A Huddersfield photographer, he was born on 13 Februaru 1849, the son of a Lockwood cloth finisher. At the age of five he joined the High Street MNC Sunday school where his father became the superintendent. He later attended drawing classes at the Mechanics Institute, working part-time as a textile warehouseman. He developed a photographic business, specialising in artistic photographs and portraiture, which grew into the towns leader. From a temporary studio built behind his Manchester Road house he later moved to Burlington House, purpose-built premises by Greenhead Park.
Shaws life revolved around the High Street chapel where he was a trustee, Sunday school teacher and a member of the Connexional College Committee. He was a founder member of the towns YMCA and for a time was chaplain to the Huddersfield Free Masons Lodge. He died in Huddersfield on 3 September 1916.