The new project marks a natural progression from Laura's previous series, the award-winning Wild West Tech, funded by a grant from the Magnum Foundation, which explored the tech industry culture in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
"That project was aimed at documenting what I saw as a modern-day gold rush," says Laura.
"People were coming from all around the world with an idea but no money, living the dream for a couple of months, and then flaming out. For example, I photographed some guys who were couch surfing the whole summer while they were working on their app. One night, they had to sleep in their co-working office because they didn't have money for anywhere else. I felt that side of things was being overlooked by the media and needed to be documented, as an important moment in the history of this boom-bust town."
Laura sees this not just as a local issue, but a pressing national one. "In America, the gap between rich and poor is the largest since the Roaring Twenties," she says. "Since the 1970s, inequality has been growing and it's estimated the top 1% now controls almost as much of the nation's wealth as the bottom 90%."
Laura is grateful for the prize that will enable her to bring this important issue to light. "More subtle stories, as economic issues often are, often take immense amounts of research and time in the field to tell properly," she points out. "So I'm very thankful to Canon for sponsoring this award, which will give me the opportunity to dive in and give this project the time it needs."