Tokyo Test

Maria (1 of 10)cropsmall

I find myself searching before my short trip to Tokyo. Three days. I am often here, I pop in the door, say hello to all inside, and leave. That is my relationship with this city. 

I usually come for business, and I often find myself gifted with a lot of time to be still with myself, and stir the pot of myself and who I am.

This time around, I was able to do a test shoot. Tokyo is a fairly tricky place for me to find locations that agree with me. Ironically, the Japanese aesthetic isn’t always pleasing to my eye, and the city even less. I oftentimes seek visual refuge an hour or two outside of Tokyo, just to sit within more green, more ocean, more movement of the environment that isn’t just the people. 

I discovered online, a quaint Japanese teahouse in the middle of the city. Usually places such as this can be quite stingy and limiting in their accepting of photos being taken on the premise. Must not disturb the other guests, of course. I called, and to my pleasant surprise, photos were of no issue, and even welcomed. I decided then, that this place is where we will seek refuge for our short time together.

Maria (9 of 10)crop

Being the weekend, it was slightly crowded, but not overpowering, my model Maria and I were able to navigate quite swiftly within this space. We were definitely jama at some point, or “in the way”. But the staff didn’t reprimand us, but left us to shoot and to explore the location undisturbed, and I felt grateful to them. 

The shoot in its essence was just my simple exploration of my model. Her face, her expression, how the shadows played upon her face. Getting to know her as a person. She was very animated, and made up for her lack of English ability in facial expression. Not allowing this vocal roadblock to hinder her. 

Maria (3 of 10)crop

I am excited to explore more, and take this peaceful explorers mind with me in March. I will be traveling to Vietnam, and I am giddy with anticipation to see what I will uncover. 





Day 5

A few weeks ago, I had this shoot with my incredible babe of a friend Mari. We shot in Tokyo near Roppongi under an underpass that featured a long stretch of art on its stony walls. The lighting was beautiful there, and after a hard past couple of days, this shoot with both her and the makeup artist made me feel so happy to have a few hours where I could shoot and let the stress melt off me. Such beautiful souls. Thank you so much dears.

The Face For Others

Being born and raised in Japan, I often find that there are certain characteristics that I have naturally acquired, yet have no idea how, or when. One is what we call “Tatemae”. A hideous word to me, meaning the face you put up in front of others. Socially speaking, it is a natural and almost necessary tool to survive. Culturally you aren’t supposed to stand out too much, a constant and never ending play that you are supposed to follow. I grew up fairly segregated from Japanese society, and yet I found that this concept of Tatame has naturally infiltrated my personality. When meeting someone new, you must have a different face, must talk in a specific and decided way. Naturally of course, most countries have varying degrees of this, as it’s not a completely foreign concept. And yet, Japan has found a special place for this word, and it is threaded into the spirit of the people. So for someone like me, who looks nothing like the masses, is quite an overbearing task navigating the social scene in a way that is understood. My task is to unthread it, and to see what remains. Who was I before all of this started? Hopefully 2019 will show me.



Reylia Slaby

Fine Art & Fashion Photography

Website |


Day 1.

So here we go again.

From today, I will endeavor to start again, what I have failed numerous times in the past. To create and upload an image of any nature and quality. Just once a day.

It seems simple enough, but I find my own disposition to be in resistance to habit and simple daily patterns.

One year. I have never done something everyday for a year. Can this be my time?

In some sense, I am proud of my leniency towards my own shortcomings. In the past I have berated and punished my mind for falling short, but I now realize that while discipline is a virtue, so is kindness towards the self. Let this be a year of new realization, epiphanies, and peace.



Reylia Slaby




Photo Copyright© Reylia Slaby Photography and may not be used without written permission

Each day, I am again trying to experiment. For the longest time, it feels, I have been in transition mode. Experimenting, teaching myself, learning from others, and trying to figure out what it is I’m after in my work.

I’ve been thinking of weekly challenges for myself in between my studio shoots. This week I’ve decided it would be 7 days of Food and Photos, and even that for the simplest image, takes a certain amount of scrambling and figuring out what it would be.

I find myself wondering, a waterfall of thoughts, if I should go about it in this way. Would it be beneficial for me to show the places where there are cracks in my work? Should I be uploading things that aren’t my main work?

These thoughts do tend to leak into my main frame of thinking, until I realize that I do enjoy talking, and sharing the process and the progress. There is a freedom in showing what you do without worrying about what you’re showing.

And I feel now, so much better than before. I felt weak, and very much not in control. Sitting day by day, wondering what to do, feeling so stuck in the mud. But with this, I feel I am coming out of the funk again. And if I do return to that bad place again, as most people tend to do, I hope to come out again, feeling just as good and as sure of myself as I do today in this moment.



Reylia Slaby

Fine Art and Fashion Photography



Our Strangeness

Photo Copyright© Reylia Slaby Photography and may not be used without written permission

It is important to fully explore the unique, unusual, and strangeness of ourselves. To marvel at our abilities to be odd. There are so many of us who feel out of place and awkward, if not all of us, and it takes us years to finally settle into ourselves.

I say to you, dear artist (aka everyone), be that part of yourself. Don’t push it away, but give it the spotlight. Figure out more ways you are weird, and then let it bleed into what you create and how you design your life.

I am 25, and I am continuously stripping away the layers of my anxiety that insists on a steady regrowth of insecurity and lack of confidence. I feel my limbs shake, and give way to awkward pauses in my speech. When I would stand in front of people, be it during a seminar or just momentarily at a party, once my stream of words was interrupted, it was guaranteed that I would be tripping consistently throughout the rest of the talk. Kind of like the runner at the Olympics that after one hurdle just kept fumbling over each one after that. Basically, everyone was glad they weren’t him. But I was him, in my daily life.

Now though, I find I smile more at those trip ups. I find more I am comfortable with where I lack. I recognize them, and see more clearly where I should try to fill. I feel aware of myself, who I am, and make more decisions based on what I am comfortable with.

I do things that match my strangeness. Match it today, tomorrow, and every day forever.






The Fearful Artist

Fear seems to be a big part of why I don’t create. Over the years, my own fears have eroded my desire to create and to push on. It is a strange thing, to be so in love with your craft, but to be terrified of it once you are faced with it.

One afternoon I was sitting in Starbucks. My time there was one continuous sigh. I go here to get away, to find time to relax, to allow my brain a release and a chance to recharge. And yet, I find myself in a panic each time I visited. Thoughts such as Nows the time I must create. You don’t have much time. What do you want to do? No one will create you future but you blah blah blah. A phenomenal rainbow of thoughts, each color a different shade of fear and pressure. I don’t know how it happened, but in my adult years, I have totally lost the ability to relax and to allow my own self to drift through my work and what I do. My confidence was slowly stripped away by own own doing.

When you are sitting in a cafe, the last thing you want to be doing is thinking of this. Questioning yourself, who you are, your own competence and abilities. And yet without interruption, I have somehow made criticism my daily meditation.

I looked back at my accomplishments, and felt nothing. All that I felt was what I hadn’t done, and what I should do from now. I looked at my goals from this past year, and all had yet to be accomplished.

Why is this? Is it because my crushing pressure and high standards of myself were taking its toll on me? Was it because I was messaging my boyfriend too much? Was looking at too many images of artists who were doing better than me? Was it because I still didn’t have the equipment that I wanted and needed? Or could it be that I didn’t actually believe in my own abilities, and was just biding my time. Or, maybe this age of digital wasn’t actually for me, and my world and creativity had been stunted by the endless possibilities. They did say that more choice was worse than fewer choices, didn’t they?

I knew it was ridiculous. None of them made any sense when I thought it out. The pressure wasn’t real, I didn’t need to do anything I didn’t want to. I was free to create anything, or to create nothing. That’s the thing about art, it shouldn’t be rushed and it shouldn’t be forced, no more than you can make water run down a stream quicker. You can only remove the rocks.

As for my boyfriend. Yeah, probably. I tend to lose my own personal focus when I’m in a relationship. I can’t help but think of the fate of two lives than just my own. In a way, its my own creative project, thinking about what the future will be like and what we could and should do. It was also a slight addition. I find solace in having a partner, its fun, its always wonderful to have someone that cares about you, its just not healthy to be careless about it.

Images though..the vast endless array of impeccable artists with incredible lives. They all say its possible too—to be like them, to do what they do. And of course it is, there is always that sliver of possibility that says if you follow the blueprint perfectly, you could do it as well. But its ridiculous to say that to someone who has an opposite life in a completely different situation. It’s not fair, and it’s not reasonable. I always felt like they should put their focus on telling people that they shouldn’t aspire to be them. Different people need and want different things, instead of continually getting bombarded with propaganda that tells them what their lives should look like.

As for equipment….yeah maybe. That one could actually be possible to some degree. But it was still implausible as to why all my art suffered, and not just the side that required equipment.

One thing, I thought to myself, I was hardly ever creating. It was rare that I created, and it was rare that I made mistakes. I didn’t allow myself to. Something about it was too painful, coming short was painful.

But maybe, what if, it didn’t have to be? What if I didn’t even think about it, and allowed my body to go on auto pilot with the art, forcing the side of the critique out. So long, you have overstayed your welcome in the gallery. And just let me.

Perhaps I was afraid to do things wrong. To share too much, to give too much away. To reveal pain and failure was to be one. Maybe though, just maybe, it wasn’t.