“Photography is not a hobby for me. It’s a way of life,” wrote Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, better known as “Shawkan,” from the infamous Tora prison. Shawkan has been imprisoned since August 14, 2013, when he was arrested while covering the dispersal of a protest of ousted President Mohamed Morsi supporters, one of the most violent events in the country’s modern history. Shawkan, who was 25 years old at the time of his arrest, has now spent more than 1,000 days behind bars.
Shawkan’s photos are a poignant reminder of the early optimism of the Egyptian revolution and the uprisings which swept the Arab world. From celebrations in Tahrir Square to revolutionary graffiti, the fact that his last photos feel dated is a visual testament to how long he’s been behind bars. Shawkan’s arrest is a marker of dramatic change in Egypt, which has since transformed into one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists.