French photojournalist and Agence France Presse (AFP) Paris photo staff member, Olivier Laban-Mattei was born in 1977 and grew up in Paris, where he studied geography and sociology. He became a self-taught photographer after being influenced by photos from the Vietnam War. In 1999, he started working in Corsica, the island from where his mother came, as a press photographer at a local press agency. In 2000, he started working for AFP, first as a stringer in Corsica before going back to Paris in 2005 to become a staff member. He has worked as a freelance photographer since June 2010. Laban-Mattei spends his time between Paris and countries hit by war or natural disasters, such as Iraq, Iran, Gaza Strip, Georgia and Burma, Haiti, Tunisia, and also works on personal projects. He has won two previous World Press Photo awards, a third prize in General News stories in 2008 and a second prize in Spot News stories in 2009.