Sony has announced the shortlist for its World Photography Awards 2009, with 186 photographers from 43 countries making it down to the final stages.

The judging committee, made up of world-renowned photographers, curators, publishers and critics whittled down the final 186 entries from 36,546 professional and 25,370 amateur photography submissions.

Astrid Merget, events director said: "The quality and level of photographers this year has risen greatly and we are thrilled to see many top names as well as excellent new talent on the shortlist. Every one of the shortlisted photographers should be very proud to have been recognised by such an esteemed jury".

In the professional competition, there are 12 categories across three subject genres - Photojournalism and Documentary, Commercial and Fine Art - each of which carries a maximum of ten candidates.

This is similar in the eight amateur categories, which include architecture, fashion, music and portraiture.

This year, the amateur entries went through various pre-selection rounds by inspectors from iStockphoto, before being judged by the Honorary Judging Committee.

The finalists in each of the categories will be announced on 17 March, and will be honoured at the Sony World Photography Awards Ceremony and gala dinner in Cannes a month later on 16 April.

The overall professional winner will receive $25,000 and professional Sony camera equipment, while the winning amateur photographer will receive $5000 and Sony camera equipment.

The professional category finalists and amateur category winners will also have their work showcased at the Winner's Exhibition in Cannes between 14-19 April.

For more details on the competition and shortlisted candidates, head over to the World Photography Awards website.