Sony will award $5,000 cash to the best amateur in the Sony World Photography Awards, a contest in which enthusiasts account for more than a third of the entries. The announcement from Sony came after the closing date for the competition on 31 January.rnrnPicture credit: Fabiano Busdraghi, Italy, courtesy of the Sony World Photography Awards

Sony will award $5,000 cash to the best amateur in the Sony World Photography Awards, a contest in which enthusiasts account for more than a third of the entries. The announcement from Sony came after the closing date for the competition on 31 January.

Originally, only the winner of the professional category stood to win a cash prize ? in this case $25,000.

Asked why the amateur cash prize was not announced until after the closing date a spokeswoman for the organisers told us: ?This exciting addition to the amateur prize reflects the way in which the awards are rapidly growing, as well as further highlighting the commitment that is given to both amateur and professional photographers internationally.?

Almost 26,000 of the entries hail from amateur photographers, representing around 37% of the total.

An exhibition of finalists’ work will be held at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes from 21-25 April.

The awards are now backed by Saatchi Online who will sponsor an exhibition of 100 of the best amateur shots in Cannes and feature the images on its website, offering the pictures for ?commercial sale?.

Organisers have confirmed that amateur photographers ‘will be paid for any images sold on Saatchi Online’.

The amateur winner also wins a VIP ticket to the awards to be held at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France on 24 April.

The awards are backed by galleries, curators, picture editors and renowned photographers such as Tom Stoddart who will help judge the best entries and form part of the World Photography Academy.

Academy members also include Amateur Photographer Editor Damien Demolder.

Elliott Erwitt and Martin Parr are among the high-profile photographers supporting the project.

For full details visit www.worldphotographyawards.org

Fabiano Busdraghi, Italy

Picture credit: Fabiano Busdraghi, Italy, courtesy of the Sony World Photography Awards

NEWS UPDATE: Amateur finalists named