Speaking with pictures ft. Laura El-Tantawy and Sheila Burnett

Today Sam’s joined by two of the UK’s finest photographers: Laura El-Tantawy is an Egyptian photographer whose work explores themes that cross the boundaries of East and West. Sheila Burnett came to London in the 1970s as a illustrator before becoming one of London’s most esteemed theatre photographers.

Laura: "Words for me say things I can’t express in images and images says things I definitely can’t articulate in words”

Sheila:“If an actor sees you being sentimental they’ll be out the door like a shot!"

Laura explains how her Mum’s artistic work inspired her to grow away from the small Worcestershire village where she was born. She aims to marry words wth image in her creative journey, travelling the world working and teaching as she follows projects she is passionate about. She also explains how the camera makes her braver and less introverted.

Sheila also shares her travelling tales, having started with a theatre company, where she caught the bug for photography before going professional in 1985. They discuss the sentimentality of photography and how you can’t bring emotions to every shoot!

Sam hears how Sheila developed negatives in dark rooms in the pre-digital era. She started taking her dark room on the road and developing in hotel rooms, whereas Laura shoots a lot on her phone! It gets a bit technical, but we’re sure you can keep up ;-)

Sheila also tells us about how another woman photographer helped her find her own potential and inspired her work today.

Laura tells us about how Umm Kulthum: The Star of the Orient. This Egyptian singer became the voice of a nation, rising from conservative roots in 1920s Egypt to sing and speak to the hearts of the country’s people. Laura reveres how this musician used her art to enact political change.

Sheila’s inspirational woman is Christina Broom who captured Edwardian London with her camera and tripod to earn money whilst her husband was unable to work. She photographed soldiers leaving Waterloo station for the front during the First World War, captured stunning photographs of the suffragettes eye to eye as well as royalty, cavalry and historical events, creating pictures that transcend time.

Follow our guests:

Laura el-Tantawy


@laura_el_tantawy on Instagram

Sheila Burnett


@sheilabphoto on Twitter


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