Laura El-Tantawy is an Egyptian photographer. She was born in Worcestershire, England to Egyptian parents & grew up between Saudi Arabia, Egypt & the US. In 2002, she started her career as a newspaper photographer with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel & Sarasota Herald- Tribune (USA). In 2006, she became freelance so she could focus on pursuing personal projects. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia (USA) with dual degrees in journalism & political science.

Laura discussed her path into photography and her choice to focus on personal projects rather than assignment work. “It’s important for me to maintain my sense of independence as a photographer. There is more than one road to doing so and given the nature of the profession and the sheer number of photographers versus work, it is important to understand who you are and what your work represents amid this influx of imagery in order to find your place,” she says. Her talk focussed on her long-term project “In the Shadow of the Pyramids”, with pictures spanning 2005-2014 covering the political and social upheaval in Cairo’s streets along with her personal search for identity in a changing country. The book is being published by Dewi Lewis and due for release in late January 2015.

In The Shadow of The Pyramid is Laura El-Tantawy's photography project of Egypt during the Arab Spring. "I am an Egyptian citizen. For the first time in my life I feel hope. The popular revolution of January 25, 2011 revived a long lost sense of pride & dignity for Egyptian people & its implications are reverberating across the Middle East.

Hindu scriptures say a person who commits suicide becomes part of the spirit world, wandering the earth until he/she would have normally died. Over the past 15 years, more than 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in India. Many had borrowed money through government lending schemes or private lenders to plant more efficient crops, but could not pay off their debts. Because of the extremely fast transition India has undergone — from a rural to an industrial, urban economy with an open market — farmers have been confronted by immense social and economic problems. This has especially impacted cotton farmers in the state of Maharashtra. “I’ll Die For You” explores the epidemic of farmer suicides using still photography, video and archival documents. The project takes as its focus the peculiar bond between man and land, a relationship unique to farmers given their reliance on the land for livelihood and the equal reliance of the land on farmers for survival. It's a relationship based on love, trust and nurturing and goes far beyond the customary attachment one has with his/her source of livelihood. This relationship is symbolically represented in close up pictures from farmer's skin juxtaposed against details from the landscape photographed in a way that attempts to blur the distinction between man and land to show in this environment the land and its inhabitants are one and the same: When one dies, so does the other. This short film is my window into film making. It is narrated by farmers who experienced the suicides first hand as it was imperative for me to attach a face and voice to this story - to humanize the issue and bring it to the attention of a global audience given the story remains largely under documented in the international media. copyright 2013 © Laura El-Tantawy / VII Photo Mentor Program

Visit her sites below to see more of her work, including her interesting use of Instagram, 'moving photographs' and the @echosight inspired collaboration with Ed Kashi.