Nada Elissa, a brilliant 25-year-old Egyptian-French photographer, is climbing the ladder of success one photo at a time.
Recently selected as one of the 30 Women Photographers Under 30 in Photo Boite's 2015 exhibition, Elissa is also a member of the Urban Nile Project . She is humbled by her success and is incredibly honest about how her love for photography became more than an entertaining pastime.
Elissa's interest in photography started at a very young age.
"It all came naturally to me but I never really took it seriously," she told StepFeed.
Only after moving to France to continue her education did Elissa get comfortable with the camera and the art of photography.
"I was going to a lot of exhibitions all the time. Inspired with how a single picture can tell a whole story, I started taking pictures to document things around me and the people I meet," she explained.
"It wasn't until I came back to Cairo that I decided to take my photography seriously."
Though she loves the different aspects of photography such as fine arts, documentary and conceptual photography, Elissa specializes in documentary and conceptual photography, tending to create a unique blend of both.
"With documentary, I can tell a real story and when I add the conceptual aspect to it, it turns into a fantasy," Elissa said.
"The photo becomes both a fantasy and a reality."
"I, like every other human being in the world, have a load to deal with on a personal level and I hope that my work will not only serve as a reminder of things I've gone through, but also help me heal emotionally and psychologically from the issues I dealt with throughout my life," Elissa said.
Like any art form, photography tends to shed light on the artist and Elissa's experience is no different.
"My work reflects on how I see things and I use that to work on myself as a person," she said.
"Documenting situations revolving around me, people I love and new experiences helps me understand what life is all about sometimes."
On a broader scope however, Elissa is attempting to speak to people with her photographs.
"I was never really great at communicating with people and I use photography as a medium, a bridge to communicate my inner thoughts and feelings."
The promising young photographer hopes to inspire people, provoke thought, and enable them to understand and feel the story behind a photograph.
Whether you're a man or a woman, walking around with a camera or simply snapping a picture with your cellphone has proven to be a dangerous hobby or career on Egyptian soil and yet, Elissa is not planning on stopping anytime soon.
"In my experience, with the the regular everyday Egyptian, they tend to be more comfortable when a girl is behind the lens. They tend to be more at ease."
However, the same cannot be said to authorities or people who feel threatened by a camera.
"I got arrested a few times simply because I was shooting 'at the wrong place' or because I was reported by people on the street for walking around with a camera," Elissa said.
"I get really frustrated every time I get arrested and questioned for 3-plus hours for simply taking a photograph and it makes me think about and admire all the photojournalists that have been jailed or remain in jail for no reason."
"My heart goes out to Shawkan, the photojournalist who has been in prison for over 700 days without a trial, and every other photographer that is imprisoned."
"I think the people here in Egypt are so afraid of the camera because a part of it shows the truth" Elissa added.
Elissa doesn't have any scheduled exhibitions but she is currently working on a few projects that promise to resonate strongly with viewers or at the very least, challenge the mindsets of many.
"I am not really focusing on gaining recognition or submitting my work for exhibitions at the moment. All my focus is on a a few ongoing projects that are very important to me," she said.