Sarah Elliott

AGE: 27
BORN:Laguna Beach, California
RESIDES: Nairobi, Kenya
EDUCATION: Parsons The New School for Design
CLIENTS: FT Magazine, Marie Claire, Newsweek, Monocle, TIME, Center for Reproductive Rights, Médecins Sans Frontières
AWARDS: World Press Photo, third place; GLOBAL WORLD: Through the Lens of Human Rights, premier winner; PDN Photo Annual; "Prix de la Photographie, Paris" (Px3), bronze; Joop Swart Masterclass; Magenta Foundation Flash Forward
BEST CAREER DECISION: "Not only did moving to Kenya take me out of my 'comfort zone,' but I placed myself in an area where the type of stories I'm interested in telling are abundant."

Sarah Elliott interned with James Nachtwey while still in college and assisted Stanley Greene for a year before moving to Nairobi, Kenya, where she has established herself as one of the new breed of social issue photographers.

While attending the Joop Swart Masterclass in 2010, Elliott photographed a story about abortion in Kenya. That engagement with African women led to several other powerful stories including maternal mortality in Ethiopia, fistula repair in the Central African Republic, a women's prison in Kenya, and the role of women in the revolutions in Libya and Egypt.

"I do not want to pigeonhole myself by only focusing on women's stories," says Elliott, "but I do feel more of a connection to women's issues because I can relate and put myself in their shoes."

Elliott is a founding member of the Razon Collective, an international group of visual storytellers who pursue stories independently. The biggest challenge Elliott says she faces is "finding funding for personal projects." She self-financed her "Women of the Libyan Revolution" project, for instance, so that she would not miss the historic moment of the Arab Spring.

"I've learned it's important to take initiative in this business, especially given the current climate, whether it be working on your own personal projects, or pitching stories to editors," she says. "You need to be motivated and driven to make things happen." Her mentor Greene says, "To be a good journalist you have to have brains, guts and humanity. Sarah has all three."

Despite her impressive body of human rights stories, Elliott says she never forgets something Greene often told her: "You are only as good as your last picture."
—Edgar Allen Beem