We had the good fortune of connecting with Noah Klabin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Noah, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am from Los Feliz here in Los Angeles. I was born and have spent my entire life in the same house, except for when I went to college in New Orleans. Growing up in North East LA reinforced some integral values that I carry with me: honesty, kindness, integrity, and a willingness to work hard. I was raised by a single mother. Since it was just the two of us, she really wanted to show me that the sky was the limit, and that if I worked hard enough at something then there was a good chance I could achieve at it. As a young kid, I had a million different hobbies. She let me participate in all sorts of things. I was always drawn to athletics, which meant weekday practices and weekend games. I had never considered myself creative, despite being exposed to such a creative neighborhood where art and culture were the driving forces of the area. That all changed when I got my first camera when I was 10, a small Canon point and shoot. Before then, I had taken my mom’s camera, which was used to document our trips and adventures. I would take pictures of the flowers around the neighborhood, the animals at the zoo, and the sunsets at the beach.
After receiving my camera, my mom helped me start a small photography business selling greeting cards made with my photos (my current business). Being in such a creative and progressive part of LA showed me and encouraged me to follow this passion of mine. People were really keen on supporting a young kid trying to put his work out there. This time in my life reinforced my core values and taught me how to approach different people with genuine kindness and curiosity. Now, as an adult pursuing a creative career, I am driven by the same guiding forces and I try to capture them in my work. I am eternally grateful to my mom for helping me and never judging me for wanting to be a photographer, as well as the tight-knit community I grew up in for exposing me to so many different cultures and perspectives.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My personal work focuses on capturing the beautiful places in the western half of the United States. I have been lucky enough to travel to over a dozen national parks and many other wilderness areas. I love bright scenes with golden light that pop off the page or screen. My goal is to transplant people into these settings and give them an opportunity to escape from their world and into mine, even if it is for a split second while scrolling Instagram. The thing that brings me the most joy when photographing a scene (besides being there), is knowing that a portion of all of my sales is donated to different grassroot environmental non-profit organizations that work to help protect these places. At the end of the day, I feel very fortunate to be able to experience such serene nature, but the reality is that places like these are dwindling and we as humans need to put our best foot forward to mitigate some of these climate issues. I would like future generations to be able to love Joshua Tree National Park, as well as all of the other places I have visited, as much as I do. My professional journey has not been easy! I think that anytime you enter a creative field, there is a lot of doubt that makes you question every decision you make. It is especially difficult trying to sell your art, but the most rewarding thing is when somebody purchases a large piece of your work because they see your vision and love it. There have been times when I want to quit, when I think “Maybe I should get a real job”, but the reality is that I can sit at an office desk and make a lot of money and live my life with regret, or I can go all in and pursue something that I love. My advice is to go for it, surround yourself with people who truly support you, and invest in yourself and your passions. If you want to sell art, do it! Find local flea markets, text every contact in your phone with the link to your Instagram or website, and market yourself. It is truly all about who you know and how you leverage those connections.
My brand, Noah Klabin Photography, is an ever-evolving amalgamation of what is going on in my head. It is an honest effort to publish work that inspires people to get outside, to wake up at 3am and hike for a few miles to watch the sunrise, and to care about the natural places we are lucky enough to experience. Also, it is worth noting that many people are not able to get to natural places and don’t feel welcome in nature, so my hope is to donate money to organizations that promote diversity in the outdoors because we all should have an equal opportunity to experience it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend was visiting, I would absolutely take them all over the city. As you can probably tell, I am pretty outdoorsy. So, we would start with a morning hike in Griffith Park, followed by coffee at Maru on Hillhurst. We would then drive to Malibu and spend the day at the beach surfing or relaxing (if you don’t mind driving then Laguna Beach is my favorite place in Southern California). Afterwards, we would cruise back to the north east side of LA and go to one of the many breweries in our area (Golden Road, Highland Park Brewery, Frogtown Brewery). For dinner, I love Cena Vegan (I am vegetarian so all of my recs are either fully vegan or have a lot of good veggie options). If it is late and I am driving home from Malibu, I love to stop in Reseda at Vihn Loi Tofu. I would also take them on a bike ride down the LA River Trail, stopping for a pastry at Just What I Kneaded (best vegan bakery in Los Angeles) and a coffee at La Colombe. Some of my other favorites include DeSano Pizza Bakery, Dune in Atwater Village, Seed Bakery in Pasadena, Taco Spot in Eagle Rock (their avocado salsa is incredible), Homestate in Highland Park, and Salaya vegan Thai food. One of the best parts about Los Angeles is the access to the local mountains. Take a drive up Angeles Crest Highway and hike near Mt Waterman (currently closed due to fire damage). I would also take them to explore the areas around Chinatown, Little Tokyo and downtown, stopping for lunch at Grand Central Market (go to the falafel place because it is delicious). You can also go to the Observation Deck in City Hall and get great views of DTLA and the surrounding areas. And lastly, did you really come to LA if you didn’t go to Chavez Ravine and watch the Dodgers?
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to give a shoutout to my mom who has encouraged me from day 1 to pursue my dreams. Also, the rest of my family who has been buying my work and spreading the word about me for years! My girlfriend Bailey and the rest of my friends who constantly let me take photos of them, connect me with other people, and lift me up when I am feeling down. I have always appreciated the work of people like Chris Burkard, Ansel Adams, and Sebastiao Salgado (to name a few).