Laura El-Tantawy was born in Worcestershire, England and grew up between Cairo, Egypt and Dammam, Saudi Arabia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in Athens, GA (USA) with a dual degree in journalism and political science, worked as a staff photographer with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Sarasota, Florida, before becoming a freelance photographer in 2006. Having her roots in newspaper photography has played a critical role in shaping her development because the simple nature of being a newspaper photographer — covering a wide range of assignments, including sports, spot news, business portraits and feature hunting â€“ stimulates flexibility, creativity and a mind set where the photographer has to make a picture regardless of the situation he or she is in.
In 2008 she was selected as one of 10 photographers to be awarded a spot in Reflexions Masterclass, a two-year photography master program directed by Italian photographer Giorgia Fiorio and French curator Gabrial Bauret. In 2009, she completed a research fellowship at the University of Oxfordâ€™s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism where she explored the concept of freedom of expression in contemporary Egyptian media and the role played by Internet bloggers and independently published newspapers to push the boundaries of free speech in Egypt.
El-Tantawyâ€™s work has been published in National Geographic Magazine, Harperâ€™s, Saudi Aramco World Magazine, The Guardian, Thailand: 9 Days in the Kingdom, Bangkok 101 as well as several online publications. She lives between London and Cairo, where she associates most of her childhood memories.