The Prince of Wales has backed the 2009 Sony World Photography Awards, a contest open to amateurs and professionals which carries an environmental theme.

This year?s awards has been organised in partnership with The Prince?s Rainforest Project, set up by Prince Charles to help conserve rainforests.

Now open for entries the competition boasts an amateur prize of $5,000 cash and a trip to Cannes in the south of France.

Last year?s amateur title went to Arup Ghosh from India. UK photographer Vanessa Winship won the overall title and bagged the top prize of $25,000 in cash. Judges included Amateur Photographer Editor Damien Demolder.

Amateurs can submit up to three images for free, say organisers. The categories are Architecture, Conceptual and Constructed, Fashion, Landscape, Music, Natural History, Portraiture, Sport and Campaign Award. The latter is about using photography to ?educate and inform? and is themed on the ?global obsession with football?. Amateurs are asked to produce a single image that ?captures the beauty and spirit of football in unexpected places?.

There will also be a Student Focus prize, with the winner scooping around Euros 45,000 worth of Sony camera gear for their university.

In April the winners will be flown to Cannes where they will receive their prizes at a gala ceremony to be held inside the Palais de Festival.

Last year?s competition pulled in more than 70,000 entries.

For full details visit

Picture credit: Vanessa Winship courtesy of Sony World Photography Awards