Project Description

I stand by my work as I stand by the people who share their lives with me. It is paramount that to do this work, one must engage fully, to know one’s role as a witness to history and a bridge between elements in society. We must work together, making powerful imagery and telling important stories, to influence policy and work towards a more just world.


Tom Laffay is an American filmmaker and photojournalist dedicated to issues of human rights, public health and conflict. While studying political science and Latin American studies he lived and worked with migrant farmworkers in the Southern United States, before ever picking up a camera. The human experiences shared at that time confirmed the power of storytelling as a tool for building understanding and making change, and his need as an artist to create raw, vivid images, drew him to the visual documentary field.

Since 2011, Tom has documented the Chronic Kidney Disease epidemic affecting agricultural communities in Central America where he lived for 4 years. His collaboration with La Isla Network in investigating and documenting the disease has expanded his coverage of the issue to South Asia and the United States. In addition to international editorial publications, his photographs have been published in workers’ rights manuals, medical journals, as well as in art exhibitions. His films have been shown in film  festivals, medical conferences, company boardrooms and in community settings. He mentors young photographers in CKDnT affected communities and participates in teaching workshops in addition to speaking on the issues he covers. He is driven to bring the perspectives and stories of the people affected to the forefront of the research and industry efforts to address the CKDnT epidemic.

Tom is currently based in Bogota, Colombia and can be contacted at:

@laislanetwork / @tlaffay instagram and twitter