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Documentary photographer Sarah Pannell wins the Send Anywhere Awards

© Sarah Pannell

Pannell plans to visit Egypt and explore the decline of its once thriving tourism industry in the aftermath of the Arab Spring

After a lengthy judging process, Sarah Pannell has been selected as the winner of the Send Anywhere Awards

We would like to thank everyone who submitted and congratulate the nine other photographers who were shortlisted for the grand prize: an all-expenses paid trip to their chosen destination. A free e-book of all the finalists’ work can be downloaded here.

Pannell plans to travel to Cairo, Egypt, to work on a project investigating the decline of tourism in the country and how this has affected individuals who once depended on the industry.

© Sarah Pannell



“Over the past six years Egypt has undergone intense political and economic upheavals,” says Pannell, when we speak to her following the announcement of the Award. “The idea for this project began on the last evening of a trip I had taken to Japan, after meeting another traveller who was from Egypt. We spoke for hours about his country, including the decline in tourism, once the backbone of the country’s economy, and the effect of this on the general population. From that moment, I knew it was something I wanted to explore further and have been researching around the topic ever since.”

Sparked by the Tunisian Revolution of late 2010, which marked the advent of the Arab Spring, Egyptian citizens took to Cairo’s Tahrir Square in early January 2011 protesting the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. Culminating in a dissolution of his government, during the following six years the country has undergone a tumultuous transition, to the detriment of its tourism industry.

© Sarah Pannell

“During my research I observed that the decline in tourism to this once popular holiday, was affecting the many citizens whose livelihoods depend on it,” explains Pannell. “I want to travel to the country to look at how this industry has been impacted by the Arab Spring and the instability that has ensued.”

An Australian documentary photographer based in Melbourne, much of Pannell’s work observes how landscape is marked by both history and modernisation, exploring the relationship of people and communities to their surroundings. For this project, she plans to visit Cairo’s tourist hotspots  – including, the Pyramids of Giza and the Valley of the Kings – during Winter, traditionally Egypt’s high tourist season.

© Sarah Pannell

Through photographing these locations and the people affected by the decline of the tourist industry, the resulting work will, she hopes, present an insight into the realities of life for everyday people and a society in transition.  

Along with her proposal, Pannell entered a collection of her travel and documentary photography for consideration, which she has developed over the past two to three years in a range of countries including, Iran, Japan, Turkey and her homeland, Australia.

© Sarah Pannell

© Sarah Pannell

Commenting on the submitted work, Simon Bainbridge, editorial director of BJP and one of the members of the judging panel, observed: “Sarah is an emerging photographer with a highly developed visual language and an acute eye for composition and detail. So, wherever she travels – Europe, Asia, the Middle East or her native Australia – her signature is apparent. She’s versatile, equally at home making portraits, landscapes or reportage, shooting loose-form photo essays that draw you into the fabric of the places she photographs, observing surprising nuance among the ebb and flow of everyday life.

Her pictures convey wanderlust and curiosity, but also a sense of the complexity of the places and communities she makes her subject. So it seems apt that she will use her prize to photograph tourist spots in a country that has long held an exotic mystique for foreign travellers, but whose recent history has thrown all of that into a very different light.”

© Sarah Pannell

Other members of the judging panel from Send Anywhere added: “Sarah’s photos are alluring and captivating at the same time while maintaining a unique point of view from the photographer herself. We are curious and eager to see what images she will capture in Egypt, a nation that is full of history, intrigue and a rich culture.”

Pannell is determined to delve into the heart of this changing society and produce a visual documentation of individuals working to reshape their lives amidst these upheavals . BJP are excited to see what she produces and will be showcasing a first-look of this work on its completion.

© Sarah Pannell

Send Anywhere is a new and innovative file transfer system, allowing photographers to instantly share their images no matter where they are, without compression.  A free e-book of all the finalists’ work can be downloaded here.

Sponsored by Send Anywhere: This feature was made possible with the support of Send Anywhere. Please click here for more information on sponsored content funding at British Journal of Photography.