The American Research Center in Eygpt

A Day on the West Bank

A Day on the West Bank

A Day on the West Bank

Abdallah Sabry photographing objects found during the clearing of Theban Tomb 110

Imagine waking up in the small village of Medinet Habu on Luxor’s West Bank ready to start the work day. Maybe you know what the day has in store as you set off on your motorbike and head to work, or maybe you don’t. Either way, no two days are the same for Abdallah Sabry, archaeological photographer.

An experienced fashion photographer, Abdallah Sabry joined ARCE about a year ago, bringing with him knowledge of camera equipment, a good eye, an appreciation of lighting, and an understanding of how to use photo manipulation software.

Equipped with these skills, Sabry was mentored by former ARCE archaeological photographer, Owen Murray, gaining an insight into ARCE’s photography procedures. He quickly grasped the prerequisites needed to photograph archaeological sites and the importance of photo-documentation.

Abdallah Sabry (r) with project Egyptologist Andrew Bednarski (2nd from right) and project archaeologists on site in Qurna

Sabry concedes that archaeological photography demands a massive amount of patience and physical endurance when working under harsh conditions like the scorching Luxor sun. He additionally admits that the job is not for the acrophobic, as much of his work involves scaling scaffolds. He recounted one anecdote, “One day I climbed four flights of scaffolding only to discover once I got to the top, that the scaffolding’s main support had become loose…The scaffolding was quickly secured, but for a moment I was seriously frightened…for my camera equipment. It’s crazy what enters your mind in moments like that.”

Sabry has discovered numerous professional and personal benefits to his work with ARCE. On a professional level, his adaptation to archaeological photography has pushed his skills in new directions as well as provided an opportunity to develop his teaching skills. Training others was something entirely new to him but over time he has learned to teach the young MSA inspectors and transform them into archaeological photographers capable of taking and processing pictures. While the highlight of Sabry’s day is “…shooting. Definitely…” he feels exceptionally satisfied working on the APS Site Improvement project that was designed to support the local West Bank economy by providing employment for hundreds of youth who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the downturn in tourism. Says Sabry, “This [project] really affects people’s lives.”

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