In a time where nearly any asshole with an iPhone can act like they’re photographer (uh including myself). I am constantly curious how one keeps the passion going, makes something that sticks around, and why some photos give me the feels while most of them don’t. Noah Sahady’s work does in fact give me the feels. His images remind me of being a teenager, they feel like going home to something I didn’t know was still there to go home to.
And because I always want to know more and am curious how every person on the planet takes their coffee, Noah and I had ourselves a lovely little chat. We cover such topics as how a five year old takes a photograph, what the hell is a hemp jawn, and why he moved from New York to Long Beach. It’s incredible how dynamic work becomes even more dimensional once you get to look at the human behind it.
LF: You’re working as a full time photographer, does making that money change how you view the art of it? How do you find a balance or keep a passion for it?
NS: I definitely am aware of the risks that come with monetizing any passion, but for me, working as a full time photographer hasn’t changed my view on the art of it. In a perfect world, greed and excess wouldn’t exist, but we don’t live in a perfect world, and I think it’s really important to learn how to adapt your passions to fit into today’s age. I joke around a lot with my fellow art buddies about how we aren’t out here saving lives, but I try to look at the money I make as a tool to keep doing what I do, which hopefully is helping the world progress at least a little bit toward peace.
LF: Most favorite current project or client?
NS: That’s a tough one, but I think my favorite current project is an ongoing series about water and the strange relationship humans have with it. It’s still developing, but hopefully I’ll finish it one day and be able to find a good outlet for it.
LF: Ooo I like this. Tell me more? What does this look like? What is your relationship to water?
NS: Literally, it just looks like abstract photos of water and people in water. I hope that whenever it’s finished people will see it a little less literal though. I’m just really fascinated by our dependency on and instinctual connectedness with nature as a whole. This water series is just a segment of that idea, and it’s just a way to help me realize just what my relationship with it is.
LF: Everyone has a moment where they sort of cross over into supporting themselves with art, if we’re lucky. Do you remember that moment or that project where you realized, ok I’m going to be able to do this.
NS: I don’t believe that you can chalk it all up to luck – I think if we’re honest with ourselves at the beginning of anything we do, it will evolve into what it’s supposed to be. There are moments when I still question if I’m able to do this, but that moment you’re talking about, that happened at day one. I’ve talked about this before, so I may sound like a broken record to anyone who knows me, but I used to be insanely shy before I started making images. In high school, I was asked to take photos for a friend of a friend – someone I’d never met before – and I was terrified. But I let my guard down and started picking up on some really valuable lessons in connecting with others, and I knew that no matter how much fear there would be, no matter how much I questioned my capabilities, I was going to continue this journey and make a living doing it. The things I learned by opening up to others were just too important to ignore, and I was hungry to learn more.
LF: You mentioned finding some photographs from when you were a kid, and that they’re quite good? How so, and why do you think that is?
NS: I don’t know if I’d say they’re “good” by any means. I had dabbled with the idea of compiling them into a selection for others to critique though! But, if they were good in theory, it’d probably be due to the subject matter and the innocent viewpoint from which they were made. They weren’t tainted by societal B/S, or self-doubt. They were just images that a 5 year old took of the people and things he loved.
LF: Living in long beach, love long beach. Where are you spots? What does life in long beach look like for you?
NS: I really love living down here so far. I’ve been told it was once known as “Strong Beach,” so that’s cool. It’s definitely a much needed change from my experience while living in New York not too long ago. Life’s a lot slower now – On an average day, I get up early, make my bed, and throw some slow tunes on while I drink my coffee. I force myself to get some computer work done everyday, and then head out to take some photographs, and/or skate – Lately I’ve been doing more of the latter, but I just messed up my ankle for the who-knows-what-number-time now, so I’ll probably be working more on that water series I mentioned earlier. I love cooking, but I’m nowhere near as talented as my girlfriend, so I spend most evenings studying her cooking, and usually wrap up the day with some more coffee and something creative – working on personal work at night seems to be the most productive for me. That’s my pretty normal, arguably boring life in a nutshell!
LF: Boring life is the bread and butter of a good life. You mention girlfriend- what is it you find necessary in a partner? They so often make up a huge part of this life we construct.
NS: Ain’t that the truth? I’ve been simplifying my life a lot lately, and I feel happier because of it. The ability and willingness to understand one another – I think that’s the bread and butter of a good relationship. Without understanding, it’s so difficult to navigate anything else you’ll find yourselves dealing with.
LF: Why the move from NY?
NS: New York is awesome, but it was an excessive lifestyle for me. Like I said, I’m starting to notice that in my life, simplicity is key. Stress, good and bad, kind of keeps that city pulsing, and I was starting to notice that I was becoming very far from who I truly am, and the man I strive to be. I came to Long Beach solely because I always wanted to live in California at some point in my life. I probably could have gone to 20 other cities and found the same thing that I found here, and who knows, maybe I’ll end up somewhere else a few years down the road. For now, I’m letting California heal up a few old scars and make some new ones.
LF: If you weren’t a photographer what do you think you would be, if the universe picked something else for you?
NS: I’d like to think I still had the guts and physical resiliency I used to have – the kind it takes to make a living through skateboarding. Although, I probably wouldn’t have picked up a camera back in middle school if it weren’t for that scene, so I’m kind of doing both I guess?
LF: I’m really digging the layered look on your Instagram, what is your thought process with that. And what are your thoughts on the platform?
NS: Thanks! It’s not really a linear or overly-calculated process as much as it is a jumbling of thoughts, morals, etc. I’m totally cool with someone appreciating (or hating) my work based on surface level things, like, “oh, wow, that picture of a mountain is so pretty!”, but through layouts, and a more careful selection of the work I post, I’ve been trying to guide whatever audience is left on Instagram to see something a little deeper. Whether they see what I see, or something completely different, so as long as they take something somewhat important from it. If not, then that’s fine too. I will say with conviction though, that there’s too much praise for meaningless stuff on that platform. I just wish it was used more creatively as a whole. I follow a lot of people on there that are insanely creative with it, and I want to see more of that, and less of the competitive, ego-stroking crap. At the end of the day though, its social media, and I guess you can’t expect too much from it.
LF: Do you travel a lot for work? And if so, what can you not live without on the road?
NS: I do travel a lot for work, but then sometimes I stay stationary for months. It fluctuates so much, but most photographers will tell you the same thing. When I am traveling a lot though, it’s so hard for me to function without coffee. I really dislike that I’ve gone this far down into the coffee-addict-hole so many people find themselves in, but the stuff is just too good! I wish I could answer this by saying I couldn’t live without a good book or something…
LF: How do you like your coffee?
NS: Black, fosho. Though I’ve been digging these dirty chai/hemp milk jawns they make over at my local coffee spot!
LF: What? Yum. You’re turning so California 🙂 That’s not really a question, haha.
Is that a popular drink here, or was that a joke about hemp?…haha.
LF: No, totally for real. I’ve never had one or heard of one.
LF: Life mantra?
NS: Keep it real. (in other words, be really honest and love one another)
LF: How fast do you live?
NS: Way too fast, but sometimes really slow. I’m just on a journey to find the balance *raises peace sign*