Sony to sponsor global photo awards

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SONY, following their entry into the serious DSLR arena with the Alpha system inherited from Minolta, is to become the sponsor of a high-profile World Photography Awards salon and event with a 2008 presentation ceremony in Cannes and support from some of the biggest names in independent fine photography.

A press conference is to be held on Tuesday October 9th in London announcing the awards. Because the British Alpha 700 launch has been timed for October 10th in London, I am not able to attend both events – with flights and train transfers, it takes a full day from 4.00am to attend a 10.00am London press conference when you are based near Edinburgh. It’s a different country after all! It’s not a zero cost exercise either. Here is the invitation:

Sony Awards invite

You are invited to the World Photography Awards Press Conference taking place tomorrow, Tuesday 9th October, at 10am at XXXXXX (I’ve removed the details of the venue for obvious reasons).

In its inaugural year, the World Photography Awards is an international showcase of the best images taken by both professional and amateur photographers. The World Photography Awards will provide an unprecedented international platform in the world of photography as well as establishing a global network for the photography industry.

The world’s most eminent photographers are involved including Martin Parr, Elliot Erwitt, Tom Stoddart, Stephen Cohen, Bruce Davidson, Mary-Ellen Mark, Kevin Cummins, Terry O’Neil, Phil Stern. The full list of international photographers involved as well as details of the Cannes Award Ceremony will be revealed at the press conference.

There is already a website in existence with email address to request further information to enter these awards:

Although the details of the awards are embargoed, I have no hesitation breaking the news today as this website is active and gives exactly the same level of advance notice.

We have been promised full information on the awards by email tomorrow morning, and will publish the lowdown on Photoclubalpha!

The photographers signed up as endorsers are familiar names from Getty, Magnum and other agencies. Sony already has a strong European connection with Magnum, paying several of their photographers to be in attendance at press conferences for the Alpha system. Since these photographers contribute very little except to say ‘hello’ and provide a few sample personal snaps taken with the cameras, Sony is hardly wringing blood out of stone in return for their patronage. It looks very much like a genuine desire to support the best in photography without compromising the commercial integrity of the photographers.

By taking centre stage with a major annual international award at the level they seem to be suggesting, Sony is aiming for a position once (and perhaps still) occupied by Nikon. The Nikon International Photo Contest does not have the same overlay of connections with big agency names in photojournalism and fine art documentary. The Sony venture looks set to upstage it and be far for media-friendly, the kind of event which might be covered by TV and national press throughout Europe and beyond.

Congratulations in advance to Sony. This is what Minolta never managed to do, and had not the resources to do. We have waited a long time to see ‘our system’ occupy this kind of position and acquire this kind of status. Add the 2008 launch of the professional flagship model, the rumoured full-frame A900, to this – maybe unveiled at the same Cannes event? – and things will begin to look interesting.

2008 is a photokina year. The porticos of the Cologne exhibition halls, the Köln Messe, provide the exhibition space which Canon has monopolised in recent years. The panels erected along the entire length of the pedestrian walk of the Rhine rail bridge have hosted exhibitions of thousands of images. The Künsthalle and galleries of Cologne have been the venues for important photokina-timed shows like the revisited Family of Man. Within the trade show, at least one hall is always devoted to photo exhibitions. No doubt Sony will have their 2008 awards in the bag and ready for photokina. Perhaps they are already negotiating the use of one of these major exhibition spaces already.

– David Kilpatrick

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