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Safi Alia Shabaik


Love Letters to Life in the City

My interest in the human condition and relentless curiosity for people and things has led me on many adventures exploring and documenting daily life on city streets. To quote Robert Frank, “I’m always looking outside, trying to look inside. Trying to say something that is true. But maybe nothing is really true. Except what’s out there. And what’s out there is always changing.” My affair with the street began during my art school college years, inspired by the legacy of many street photographers – Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Helen Levitt, Mary Ellen Mark, Susan Meiselas, Weegee, Garry Winogrand, etc. I have spent countless hours hitting the pavement with camera-in-hand to build my visual voice, hone my eye, strengthen my intuitive ability to anticipate human behavior, and capture life’s grand choreography as it unfolds in front of my lens. This is an ever-growing body of work chronicling daily life, ranging from 2015 to current day. It presents my version of truth, which is constantly evolving with the reinvention and revitalization of the city itself. This work has become my visual creative journal marking a deeper relationship with human existence and big city living, a dynamic for which I have gained a profound new respect and love. 


Safi Alia Shabaik is a Los Angeles based Egyptian-American interdisciplinary artist. She earned her B.A. in Fine Art with honors at UCLA, followed by an apprenticeship with Catherine Opie. She became fashion stylist, personal assistant, documentarian, travel companion, and confidante to the legendary icon, Ms. Grace Jones. Her work explores the human condition: identity, persona, transformation, daily life, and the humanity of all people.  

Safi exhibits her work nationally in solo and group shows, and has been featured in numerous publications, such as the New York Times, Black+White Photography, and Lenscratch. Her work has been the subject of several podcasts, including The Candid Frame (episode #465). Her collaborative body of work with her father during his end-of-life journey, Personality Crash, has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and PhotoLucida’s Critical Mass Top 50. She is a founding member of the Los Angeles Street Collective, and an award-winning mortician. Her work can be viewed at 


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Photo by Melanie Chapman