The judges of the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards have announced the photograph “Bonfire Night 15th August 2016 in Derry” by Bernard Ward, as the winner of Ireland’s National Award.

The Sony World Photography Awards which is celebrating its 10th anniversary is the world’s largest photography competition, and the National Awards is a global program open to photographers of all abilities. It aims to find the best single photograph taken a local photographer in 65 countries. 227,596 images were entered into the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards across all competitions

Bernard Ward’s winning image “Bonfire Night 15th August 2016 in Derry” is a notable entry and winner this year due to its somewhat controversial view. Bonfires have been part of Catholic and Protestant cultures for generations, and they’ve come under much criticism since troubles have subsided. This such instance was captured in the Catholic/ republican Bogside area of Derry on the day of the bonfire. In the picture, you can see lots of locals gathered to the left watching the youths of the Bogside build the bonfire made mostly of wooden pallets. In the foreground you see cars approaching. This bonfire stirred huge controversy as it blocked a public road.

Bernard Ward is 34 years old, a father of one from Derry in the Northwest of Ireland. He comes from a historic city which has seen amazing changes over the past 30 years, from horrific violence as part of “the troubles” in Ireland and Northern Ireland to the relatively normal and co-operative society today. He loves to document the streets of Derry and tell the story of his hometown, its history and culture through pictures. He works as a marketing manager but his dream is to become a full-time photographer.

Commenting on his success, Bernard says: “To win such an award like this especially in the Ireland category is such an honour for me. I enter the Sony World Photography awards every year and I have always dreamed of winning such a prestigious award. Winning this award means everything to me and makes all the years of hard work in photography worthwhile. Photography is a passion and to win an award like this is overwhelming for me. I have always admired the level of talent every year across all categories and to be considered a winner is one of my biggest achievements to date.”

The runner-up positions for Ireland’s National Award were given to:

2nd place: Gillian Hyland for the image “The Road Less Travelled”
3rd Place: Aaron Dickson for the image “Untitled” from the series Notes On Hospitals
Winners and runners-up’s across all 65 National Awards were also announced and can be viewed here.

The winning work will be shown alongside the awards’ other winning and shortlisted images at the Sony World Photography Awards & Martin Parr – 2017 Exhibition in London from April 21-May 7 and published in the annual winners’ book.

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