Interview With Lifestyle Photographer Noah Sahady

Interview With Lifestyle Photographer Noah Sahady

I have been following Noah's work for some time now and have fell in love with every shot he has ever put up. His work is absolutely incredible and I feel everyone should take a look at this. I decided to do a quick interview with him to get to know him a little bit more.

1. Tell us a little about yourself?
I'm a 22 year old photographer from Pittsburgh, PA with plans to migrate immediately after I graduate from college in May. I'm a lover of many, many things…art, music, fashion, traveling, and most importantly, new experiences. If you're curious to learn more, strike up a conversation with me.

2. What got you started in photography?
There was a lot of artistic influence around me growing up, mainly stemming from my father. I was interested in many artsy things when I was young: drawing music, video work, you name it. The whole photography thing happened pretty organically. I wanted something else to channel creativity and it just stuck.

3. What style do you mainly shoot?
Lifestyle, but I still love a good fashion concept.

4. What equipment do you use?
I shoot primarily Canon. 5dmki/iis, Elan 7, and L glass.

5. How long have you been shooting?
I've been shooting seriously for about 2.5 years.

6. Who is your biggest inspiration?
This is always such a tough question. If i had to pick one photographer who is most inspiring at the moment, it would have to be Collin Hughes. The guy goes non-stop with producing work and traveling. It's so rad. My biggest inspiration, however, is life in its entirety.

7. Where do you see yourself with photography in the next 5 years?
Five years ago, I was 17, had weird colored hair, and hadn't yet picked up a camera. I have no idea where I'll be creatively or with photography in 5 years…Hopefully still having a blast making images.

Make sure to check out his Facebook page and website!




















What do you guys think? Like the work?

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There he goes with those '...fell in love with every shot he has ever put up...' and 'His work is absolutely
incredible and I feel everyone should take a look at this.'...

And how would you rewrite it, oh wise one?


I agree with Domagoj. He's a guy with a camera. Pretty boring stuff.

I really enjoy Noah's work, as well as Jordan Voth's. They both capture images in a way that makes me think "I really want to be there."

Nick Viton's picture

Me too.  I've followed their Flickrs (which I don't see linked in this article) for some time now and they inspire some of my work.  How is it we all kinda converge and find the same photographers?  Indeed, the really good ones stand out.

guys we should find a way to talk about these things more ... I struggle to find lifestyle photogs' communities..... maybe facebook? I jst set up a page called lifestyle photography (LOL the name wasn't taken, imagine!)


Folks can call them "lifestyle" and "fashion" photographs.... but really they're just snapshots.

That's an interesting statement as I've always wondered what lifestyle photography really is but have never found a definitive answer. What do you think? Is 'lifestyle' just a buzz word or is it a real category of photography that can be distinguished from others; and if so what are those characteristics that make it different?


Some of these could function as adverts for clothing. Some of these are just out-of-focus motion-blurred snapshots that are meaningless to everyone that wasn't there at the time.

They're photos from someone who is stuck in the middle of fashion, candid portraits, personal snapshots and advertising. I'm not sure what it tries to be.

And the colours look like something that came out of my first cheap, bright red and yellow, fixed focal-length film camera that came with the cheapest roll of film available.

Haha, well there does seem to be a lot of lifestyle photography out there that cross over into other genres such as fashion and portraiture as you said. Seems the genre is quite flexible in application.

Albi, that's a very good question. My understanding is that categorization is a process of abstraction based on mental acuity and experience. No two people necessarily have the same life experience or IQ, so that can lead to vastly different conclusions between them about how to categorize an object. Amateurs have less experience and that always puts them at a disadvantage even if they happen to be intelligent. It can also be difficult to nail down the specific characteristics of a particular genre because many are universally shared. For example, a lifestyle photo and a snapshot could both contain pretty-girls-running-on-the-beach as content. In that sense, they could both be the same. However, a lifestyle shot should display a level of sophisticated production (wardrobe, make-up, location etc) drawn from resources rarely available for simple snapshots. In that sense, they are both very different.

Firstly, what constitutes a genre? The simplest answer I can think of is "resemblance." Originality is judged according to qualities of uniqueness, but resemblance is determined by similarities. Ultimately, this means that success in photographic genres is NOT based on originality because the audience for genres already have pre-concieved expectations and standards for comparison. Any photographer that wants to be taken seriously as a genre photographer must understand that his work will be judged by it's resemblance to what already exists. In other words, the key factor to lifestyle shooting is not about difference, it's about similarity. (BTW - this is why most genre shooters are guilty of working with cliches. Cliches ARE resemblances. They are the main ingredient that makes a genre in the first place.)

Next, what qualities are particular to the genre of lifestyle? I don't think it's possible to answer this question without considering intention. Lifestyle shooting was born from advertising. The purpose behind it has always been to sell a product, an idea or a service. But, the function of a snapshot is NEVER propaganda. Snapshots simply record objects and events. Their purpose is to "solemnize" that an object existed or an event took place. When Uncle Joe takes pictures of his neice opening presents on Christmas day, he is solemnizing an event. And when he takes a photo of the snowman that she built after a snowstorm, he is recording the existence of an object in order to remember it long after the snow melts. On the contrary, when a consecrated lifestyle/fashion photographer like Bruce Weber takes a picture of a man sailing a boat, he's not solemnizing the event of a boat sailing or recording that the man existed. He is creating propaganda intended to sell clothes for Ralph Lauren. The difference between Uncle Joe's pictures and Bruce Weber's photograph is intent.  Snapshots solemnize while lifestyle/fashion photos propagandize.

Finally, the photographer is the only person that can truthfully know the intent behind his photos. Beholders can never really know a photographer's intent. However, observers can make critical inferences from the form and content of photos that point to evidence of a purpose. If a photographer is successful at conveying a message, then observers should be able to decipher the photographer's intention from the form and content of his photographs.

I came to the conclusion that Noah's pictures are NOT lifestyle or fashion because I cannot honestly infer any cohesive propaganda message that is clearly evident from their form and content. For example, the first photo of Book I from his portfolio website shows a photo of a girl smiling. Why is she smiling? Is she happy to use a particular brand of toothpaste? The second photo is of a girl splashing water. Why is she in the water? Is she on vacation and happy to be at a particular resort? The third photo is of a girl riding a skateboard. Is this an ad for a particular skateboard company? The fourth photo is a girl with her back turned to the camera. Is this an ad for the jean shorts that she's wearing? At this point, it's probably unnecessary to continue giving examples because the pattern should already be clear. There is no discernable meaning or intent behind the photos besides the simple recording of an event or an object. They solemnize, but they don't propagandize.

Furthermore, when I compare the production of Noah's photos to already pre-existing genre work from consecrated lifestyle/fashion photographers like Bruce Weber, then there are clear deficiencies.  Weber has a more polished hair/makeup, a better casting, and a more valorized location/setting along with a greater variety and distinction of wardrobe. All of these factors present in the content point to Weber's accessibility to high budget resources from advertising and propaganda campaigns. On the contrary, the locations in Noah's photographs look commonplace and ordinary. Clothing appears untidy as if it came straight out of a friend's closet. Many of the female subjects are certainly attractive, but they do not possess qualities that could make them stand apart from a typical girl-next-door. All of the make-up, hair, and wardrobe is random and haphazard. Unfortunately, all of these factors combined together in Noah's photographs point to the do-it-yourself quality of an amateur pretending to be a lifestyle photographer, rather than an actual lifestyle photographer. In the end, none of his work can ever honestly get beyond the simple solemnization present in snapshots.

My apologies for the long post. The original question appeared to be sincerely asked so I felt obligated to give a thorough response.

Mbutu this is actually a very thorough, thoughtful response full of great information. Nicely done. 

@ Trevor

Thanks very much

Wow, thanks for the detailed response. That's the best answer I've ever received for it. Looking over the images again I can now see why they would be categorized as simple snap shots. I've been shooting for a little over a year still trying to find my place (or genre if you will) within photography and have been drawn to what people call lifestyle as well as fashion photography among others. This has been a great. Thanks again.

Thanks Albi - Best of luck to you in 2013

Some very interesting points. But one thing missing is the mention of the power of a logo. The absence of logos leaves you questioning "Is this for a certain brand of skateboard? Is he trying to sell certain jean shorts?" Take away the logos from every lifestyle photographers photos and you'll be equally confused. Take that photo of Noahs with the jean shorts and slap a Levi's logo (or whatever brand they are) on it and it'll suddenly make sense...his intent is to sell Levi's.

Some day, a company will see Noah's photos and want their logos slapped on them. You'll see his photos, then you'll see the intent and not think twice about it being a "hap hazard snapshot" or not. You'll recognize it as "propaganda". Till then, give him the credit he deserves for constantly putting work out there and making himself more discoverable by these eventual clients.

It's true that the logo of a recognizable brand can add social legitimacy to work. The reason for leaving it unmentioned is because that would be part of design and is external to the photography. If a photographer must rely on outside sources (logos, captions, publishing, presentation space etc) for consecration then that means the work doesn't stand on it's own merit.

Exactly... ! I think there has to be a difference between typical fashion and lifestyle photography.... otherwise why call it any different. With fashion, if you take away the cold marketing theme there is not much left apart from the quality of the image itself. With Lifestyle it's more about the ability to present something and if needed pin a brand to it.

I really agree!

This is great stuff. Actual research and analysis.

This is what I thought I was coming to fstoppers for. Turns out this kind of content has migrated to the comment section.

"Beholders can never really know a photographer's intent. However, observers can make critical inferences from the form and content of photos that point to evidence of a purpose."YES. Inability to communicate intent is - in my opinion - when art "fails". But without the need for the audience to infer and analyze, it wouldn't be art. This is pretty similar to what Umberto Eco writes about the novel being inherently ironic, but I feel it applies to all art.

Mbutu, you certainly have helped me get my head around the whole concept. Still it's sooo vast I need to learn more... I read your explanation over and over again to really see the differences you talk about. I can't understand one thing though... You talk about Bruce Weber as an example of what lifestyle photography is.... To my untrained eye his work comes across as simply 'fashion'

On the other hand Noah talks about Collin Hughes as his inspiration for 'lifestyle'

While I certainly see some amateurism in Noah's work I clearly see he's trying to draw from Hughes. Should I be looking at Hughes as a lifestyle photographer? To me he's certainly less 'fashion' which is what I would like to avoid. How to safely explore fashion photography without admiring only snapshot YET differentiate it from fashion photography?

Hi Adam,

There's always a danger when using a "particular" as an example of a "universal." Lifestyle and Fashion are broad categories within photography and the same as universal concepts. Bruce Weber and Collin Hughes are individual photographers which makes them particulars as opposed to universals. Any attempt to cite a particular (like Weber or Hughes) as a perfect example of a universal (like lifestyle and fashion) will inevitably be a bit confusing because no single photographer can ever truly embody a broad genre. However, there are individual photographers that have been historically associated with broad genres and that's why I originally chose Bruce Weber. Weber is a good example of a photographer that has historically been associated with lifestyle photography over the course of many decades. On the other hand, Hughes appears to be a relative newcomer and has yet to prove his position with the test of time.

Generally, fashion photography is devoted to the literal depiction of an object (clothing) while lifestyle photography is concerned with exemplifying temporary appearances (events, gestures etc). In my opinion, photographers like Bruce Weber are good at producing both a literal depiction of objects and an exemplification of temporary appearances which qualifies him for the category of lifestyle/fashion. Meanwhile, photographers like Sahady and Hughes seem to be more concerned with temporary appearances than with literal objects and that might be why they could be considered more lifestyle than fashion. However, when a gesture or event is portrayed for it's own sake and divorced from the obvious connection to a literal product or service, then the average viewer starts to question if there's a purpose behind the photo besides just simple solemnization. That ambiguity is exactly what makes so many "lifestyle" photographs produced by amateurs so difficult or impossible to distinguish from regular snapshots. In fact, it's possible that all successful lifestyle photography MUST be obviously connected to a literal depiction of a product or service. In other words, there may be no such thing as a pure "lifestyle" photograph because that would effectively be no different than a regular solemnizing snapshot.


Lifestyle photography probably is the most popular product to sale, but that doesn't mean is something original.
Think about it: Every "Lifestyle photographer" have the same similar shots in their Flickr or Facebook or Tumblr with a little differences between weddings, fashion or hipsterism.
Maybe they could have a beautiful stories about their commercial success, not about any technic or artistic contribution.

Noah does a good job, but Jordan Voth does a great job with the same exact models. 

Do Jordan and Noah work together? They seem to have shots would have had them standing shoulder to shoulder when taken. Like the blurry shot of the girls running out of the water.

So many amputees! (Maybe they just had ugly feet.)

 do cut off feet and out of focus faces mean lifestyle ? I've always thought good 'lifestyle' photography is when it's shot to look natural but it's styled to project an image of a better lifestyle or brand. There's an awful lot of 'lifestyle' photography around that is just a bunch of hap hazard snaps whacked through an instagram style filter, and they are often popping up on flickr or on here.
My thoughts when lifestyle photography are mentioned always come back to the likes of Chase Jarvis and Nick Onken.