In a year that saw over 122,000 entries from 170 countries - the highest number of submissions to date - the judges have selected a shortlist of photographs that stood out beyond all others for their impressive high quality, originality and modern appeal. Topics ranged from haunting shots of the Syrian conflict to the Obama presidential campaign; an intimate study of cinema-goers in Kabul to quirky and witty shots of the animal kingdom.
Bringing together the very best international contemporary photography, the shortlist offers a unique insight into 2012 through the eyes of some of the world's best emerging and established photography talents. Photographers returning to the awards include Javier Arcenillas (Spain), Robin Hammond (New Zealand) and Paolo Pellegrin (Italy). Exciting up-and-coming photographers new to the awards include Ed Kashi (USA) and Andrea Gjestvang (Norway).
Catherine Chermayeff, Director of Special Projects at Magnum Photos, chaired the Honorary Jury that selected the Professional shortlist. She comments: "What an invigorating three days - which resulted in lively and passionate debates. I think we, the jurors, all began this process and felt overwhelmed. I am delighted to say that by day three, each group proudly presented and argued for our respective shortlists and found surprising strength in the shortlist submissions across all categories."
Astrid Merget, Creative Director of the World Photography Organisation, adds: "The World Photography Organisation is dedicated to finding the best international contemporary photography from across the world. The shortlist is a clear indication of the exciting photography which is out there and, as we do every year, we are looking forward to presenting this collection of photographers to a global audience."
The work of all the shortlisted photographers will be exhibited at Somerset House, London, from 26 April - 12 May as part of the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition.
The images will also be published in the 2013 edition of the Sony World Photography Awards book.
The Open and Youth category winners will be announced on 19 March.
Professional category winners and the coveted L'Iris D'Or/ Sony World Photography Awards Photographer of the Year title will be announced at a gala ceremony in London on 25 April. The L'Iris D'Or winner will receive $25,000 (USD) and the Open Photographer of the Year will receive $5,000 (USD).
All winners, including category winners, will receive the latest digital imaging equipment from Sony.
For more information on the Sony World Photography Awards 2013, click here.