139,554 photos from 166 countries were submitted to the seventh annual Sony World Photography Awards, and now the organizing committee has revealed its shortlist of the very best. Split into professional and amateur groups, the images span the full breadth of wild, still, and human life: from Kenyan wildebeest to Inuit whale hunters. While the photos themselves are invariably compelling and emotive, their subjects are not always beautiful, touching on serious themes like deprivation alongside more sanguine levity.

The entire shortlist will be exhibited in London's Somerset House for 18 days in May, though the winners will be announced earlier, with the Open and Youth category victors announced on March 18th and the Professional section getting its own gala event announcement on April 30th. Sony's contribution to the cause will be to award digital imaging equipment to the photographers whose images are chosen as the best.

Here you will find our favorites from the selected shortlist, alternating between the pro and amateur photographers. The competition's rules do allow for some photo retouching — and modern cameras are capable of boosting things like shadow detail and color vibrancy at the moment of capture — though there's a separate Enhanced category for cases of extreme post-processing manipulation.