In the digital age of mega-pixels and photo-editing software, it's reassuring to discover that a photographic genius can be discovered in anyone.
Take Arup Ghosh, a doctor from West Bengal in India, who first picked up a camera - a simple point-and-shoot - in 2002 and was immediately smitten, trawling the web for inspiration while honing his art on his local streets.
Six years later, Ghosh can now claim to be an award-winning photographer of international renown. His arresting black-and-white image of a local backstreet barber shaving an elderly man helped him become amateur snapper of the year at the Sony World Photography Awards.
No longer an enthusiast known only to his subjects, or in the online galleries where he shares his work, Ghosh, who beat off 25,000 rivals for the gong, will be flying to Cannes, where he'll receive his prize ($5,000) at a VIP gala evening later this month. Competition judges, including the celebrity snapper Rankin, will also reveal the identity of the winning professionals at the event.
Other pictures that tickled the judges' fancy (carried on this page) include a close-up view of a zebra's face taken by Thorsten Schrader of Germany, which came top in the Nature category, and a playful picture of muddy young footballers, by Nimai Chandra Ghosh of India, which took the Sport title. Judges chose a powerful depiction of a hand clutching at flesh, taken by UK amateur Martin Kharumwa, as the winner in the Abstract category.
For Mary Ellen Mark, the American photographer and judge, choosing winners was no easy task. "The calibre was outstanding," she says, "far higher than I had imagined."
Ghosh, meanwhile, who had hoped to be a painter before the death of his father pushed him to a more reliable career, will carry on shooting. "I get very little time to take photographs," he says, "but I am hungry, so whenever I can I get out with my camera. I just see images, good or bad."