Safi Alia Shabaik was born and raised in Los Angeles. She discovered her visual voice at the early age of five in a children’s pinhole camera class at the California Museum of Science and Industry. She earned her B.A. with honors in Fine Art at UCLA, where she was nominated for the Levinson Scholarship and studied with many accomplished contemporary artists, including Catherine Opie, Richard Jackson, Paul McCarthy, Barbara Drucker and Mark Durant. She has lived and worked in both Los Angeles and New York. While living in NY, she became fashion stylist, photographic documentarian, personal assistant, travel companion, and confidante to the legendary and iconic Ms. Grace Jones, both in her personal and public life. Safi’s work has been featured in The New York Times, CameraCraft, Catalyst: Interviews, VoyageLA, Upworthy.com and on The Candid Frame (episode #465). Additionally, her work has appeared in Grace Jones’s book: I'll Never Write My Memoirs, on the cover of Artillery Magazine, and in The Los Angeles Times. Her work is in several private collections, and she has exhibited in both solo and group shows in galleries nationally. She is a founding member of the Los Angeles Street Collective and is a charter member and teaching assistant at Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP).
My interest in the human condition and relentless curiosity for people and things has led me on many adventures exploring and documenting daily life out on the city streets. Robert Frank once said, “I’m always looking outside, trying to look inside. Trying to say something that is true. But maybe nothing is really true. Except what’s out there. And what’s out there is always changing.” My affair with the street began ages ago during my art school college years, having been introduced to and inspired by the legacy of street photographers like Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Helen Levitt, Mary Ellen Mark, Susan Meiselas, Weegee and Garry Winogrand, to name a few. Living in both California and New York over my lifetime, I have spent countless hours hitting the pavement with camera-in-hand to build my visual voice, hone my eye, and strengthen my intuitive ability to anticipate human behavior as life plays out its grand choreography on the street in front of my lens. The portfolio above presents a small selection from an ever-growing body of work chronicling daily life on the streets of Los Angeles, from 2015 through current day. It presents my version of truth, which is constantly evolving with the reinvention and revitalization of the city itself. This is my visual creative journal marking a deeper relationship with the city in which I was born and raised, the city that I left for nearly a decade to which I eventually returned, and the city for which I have gained a profound new respect and love.