The Sony World Photography Awards are considered one of the biggest photography contests in the world, and so it’s no surprise that the finalists and winners are always jaw-droppingly amazing. Amateur and professional photographers competed in a number of categories once again for this year’s 10th annual competition.

This year’s contest broke some records with more entries from around the world than ever before. Photographers from 49 countries made the cut, with over 227,596 photographers from 183 countries on the original shortlist. Also, this was the first year participants from Armenia, Cuba, Iceland and Saudi Arabia entered the Sony World Photography Awards.

The official winners are scheduled to be announced next month on April 20. The winner of the Photographer of the Year title receives a $25,000 cash prize along with some awesome toys from Sony!

1. Rob Wilson, Canada, Open Competition: Travel

Rob Wilson

2. Christian Vizl, Mexico, Professional: Natural World

Christian Vizl

"Silent Kingdom. Ever since I was a kid, as far back as I can remember, I was attracted to the sea. I dreamt about what lay beneath the waves, and how would it look if suddenly all the water vanished, leaving all the animals and living creatures in stasis. In this way, I could walk within the ocean and see them all, suspended for a moment in time and space. To this day I carry within me that dream; and very gratefully realise it through my photography. Each image is a visualisation of that sublime moment whereupon the beautiful marine life around me is frozen majestically in its natural environment. My intention is to capture the essence of being immersed in the experience and presence of the animal or habitat I am photographing, and to share with others their splendour and soul. I hope the images I capture contribute to the existing corpus of underwater photography in a way that energises each of us to form our own dream of preserving and creating a better world where we value and care for all expressions of life. Ultimately our understanding and celebration of the sheer beauty and poetry of life is intrinsically linked to how we communicate and bond with the myriad configurations of life energy surrounding us. In my case, it is the ocean and its marine inhabitants which inform my observance and joy for life. I in turn communicate this through my photography of the underwater realm."

3. Andreas Hemb, Sweden, Open Competition: Wildlife

Andreas Hemb

4. Luo Pin Xi, China, Professional: Sport

Luo Pin Xi

"Shaolin Kungfu, also known as Shaolin Wushu, is one of the famous Wushu schools in China. It has a long history and profound influence, is an important part of the traditional martial arts Chinese. The most prominent feature of Shaolin Kung Fu is 'Zen Wu one', namely the Zen in Wuhan, practicing meditation, so there are 'Zen martial arts'."

5. Masayasu Sakuma, Japan, Open Competition: Nature

Masayasu Sakuma

"Diamond-Dust. This picture was taken in February in Nagano-ken at an altitude of about 1,700 meters. In Japan, February is the coldest season in a year. Diamond dust can be seen only a few times during cold season. So, it took four years to make this work since I started taking diamond dust. Orange circle is diamond dust. Diamond dust usually looks white, but it turns into orange just for the morning sunrise. I expressed the diamond dust as a silent forest fairy."

6. Zhu Jianxing, China, Open Competition: Travel

Zhu Jianxing

6. Barry Tweed-Rycroft, United Kingdom, Open Competition: Architecture

Barry Tweed-Rycroft

7. Ami Vitale, United States, Professional: Natural World

Amy Vitale

"Pandas Gone Wild. Seen by few, but beloved by billions, the giant panda is one of the most recognised animals on the planet. It’s hard to imagine, but these animals, who roamed the earth for eight million years, were only discovered in the last century. Unknown, and hidden from the western world for millions of years, even today they are seen by few but known by most everyone. So secretive and mysterious was its solitary life, lived in the thickest of bamboo, in the highest of mountains, in mist and rain, governed and guided by smell rather than sight, that the giant panda has eluded easy answers, even while making its way into everyone’s heart. Giant pandas have a secret life governed by their nose, and their daily diet and breeding behaviours have made them vulnerable in today’s world. With a diet almost entirely composed of the leaves, stems and shoots of various bamboo species, their reliance on bamboo left them vulnerable to any loss of habitat. Found only in central China, the entire species came dangerously close to extinction. Scientists considered the giant panda a relic species; shy, and difficult to breed in captivity. But now there is a glimmer of hope, as years of research are finally paying off. In a region where bad environmental news is common, China cracked the code and is on its way to successfully saving its most famous ambassador. The giant panda was recently taken off the endangered species list!"

8. Nigel Hodson, United Kingdom, Open Competition: Wildlife

Nigel Hodson

9. Lester Koh Meng Hua, Singapore, Open Competition: Architecture

Lester Koh Meng Hua

10. Achim Thomae, Germany, Open Competition: Travel

Achim Thomae

11. Pier Mane, Italy, Open Competition: Culture

Pier Mane

"Walking on water. The Solomon Islands are special well beyond pristine reefs and world-class diving. It is one of the last frontiers where local tribes and indigenous populations are scattered throughout the archipelago, and proudly conduct a life where what is taken from Mother Nature is only that which is needed as a means of subsistence. I wanted a different shot than the usual underwater reef scene to capture the cultural essence of this incredible far-flung destination and its inhabitants. This is a place where it seems kids learn to paddle before they walk. I noticed canoes following my bubbles, a great opportunity to capture villagers, their canoe, the reef, and a stunning sunset as the backdrop."

12. Stacy Anguiano Cain, United States, Open Competition: Motion

Stacy Anguiano Cain

Click here to check out hundreds of incredible pics from the competition via worldphoto.org

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