Alban, Shake

1940s-1970s (active)
Nationality: Armenian/Egyptian
Place of Activity: Egypt

After his return to Egypt soon after WWII, the noted photographer Aram Alban hired a young woman named Shake to help him run the operations of the Alban studio in Cairo. Very quickly Shake became Alban’s right-hand person and would eventually take the reigns of the business. They were not merely colleagues but also life companions after Alban proposed marriage so that Shake could become his legitimate heir. It would be safe to presume that Shake authored most of the photographs taken in the Alban studio from mid 1950s onwards. After Alban’s demise in 1961, she would add her name to studio, which remained open until Shake’s retirement in the mid 1970s.

Shake had a more subdued and subtle approach to studio photography. Her portraits are gently lit, less theatrical and glamorous than those by Alban. She seems to have been particularly in demand as a wedding photographer as many of her surviving images are of newlywed couples.

Vigen Galstyan, 2015