Photo: Reylia Slaby
Model: Dagny Tarver
One thing that is often packaged with youth is the underestimated complexity of truly being yourself. The amount of pressure to act with a certain disposition to fit with the social mold can be excruciating, especially when it isn’t how you truly feel. We all handle this differently, but in my case, starting from when I believe to be around 18, I was inwardly panicked in most instances where people were involved. A cloud of angst filled my chest whenever I had to chat with someone I felt I couldn’t be myself around, especially those whom around I felt I had to uphold a certain image. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling like that, and it troubled me often. I didn’t have much peace until I expressed my worries to a friend, who responded in saying that I probably had some form of social anxiety. Somehow this idea was a relief to me. It felt like I now had something more tangible to work with.
Only until recently is when I felt the intensity of these feelings drop, and I can breathe more easily. I no longer agree with the motto that says I should act how I want to feel, (e.g smile and you will start to feel happy) but instead I simply act how I feel. There is no reason for a disguise; that because it is a simple human right to to be able to express when I am sad, uncomfortable, or happy, as long as my feelings aren’t destructive.
This picture is for this current stage in my life. I can feel my mask melt away little by little, and slowly but surely I am a little bit freer.
P.S Thank you sooo much to Dagny who worked so hard to help me achieve this image!! You.are.simply.wonderful.
When I was a little girl, I loved to spend time staring at my own reflection. I remember that I did this quite often until around the age of twelve. Twelve was when I developed a nasty disease called insecurity, and looking at myself began to produce negative feelings. Prior to that, I was fascinated with looking at myself, and I did it often. I have old pictures that my parents took of myself staring in the mirror. I believe it was separate from any narcissism. All the feelings I remember having was just a simple curiosity and wonder of the body I was living in. I even remember inviting a friend to stare with me once, but he didn’t understand why I found looking into a mirror of any interest. I especially loved staring into my reflection from a car window during a nighttime drive. My face would be layered with the stars, the moon, and the sky, and I felt that in this way I was part of them. I believed that my dim reflection was not only the little me then, but me in the future. At eight years old I believed I knew what I looked like at twenty. I read it in the subtle lines of my face. I felt it as I studied myself breathe. I saw hints of my future in the depths of my eyes.
I’ve gotten a bit older, and at 22 I’ve found that this little habit has made it’s way back in my life a bit. A lot of insecurities regarding my physical appearance have been washed away, and now I find myself fascinated again with looking.
“Never Leave Me”
Photo: Reylia Slaby
Model: Dagny Tarver
Finally a new piece. I owe my “delay” to several things. One being that the shoots I’ve been desiring to have involve purchasing rather expensive things, and in that case I must wait, and one by one accumulate all that I need. The second is that this year, my focus has shifted. I see art now as the shadow of experience, and without embracing life, art can become meaningless. My prerogative now is to live.
But more about that later.
This shoot was so wonderful to do for me. Dagny was such a sport, and I can’t thank her enough for going through with it, despite the rain and the cold. She is truly a great model 🙂
As for the idea itself, it stems from my tendency to cling to the things that I love. I have felt this to the extent that it can be borderline obsessive. Despite my undying love for these things or people, I cannot make them stay. I have always known and been ok with this. When it comes to people in this equation, everyone has their own path, a stage entrance and exit. It is ok to let go, because that is the natural flow. Very few things stay.
But on the bright side, many things come back.
Today, as I was going home after work, I leaned against a metal pillar on the platform of Fuse station. The sun was rapidly submerging itself under the horizon, and spashed a colorful gradient of yellows and reds against the sky. I closed my eyes. The crisp spring wind took my hair and danced happily with it. As I filled my lungs with this air, I felt joy. I heard the announcement for my approaching train, and yet, I stood still, unmoving.
This one moment lasted 5 minutes, and was the absolute best part of today.
I like carrying my camera around. When I first began shooting out in the town, I preferred taking pictures of people’s shoes since I was too timid to shoot faces. In Japan, I don’t see much “street photography”. There are, of course, plenty of tourists with their DSLRs, although that seems hardly a substitute for a photographer whose intention is to capture the essence and heart of a people—of a city. Since there aren’t so many shooters out, I am often anxious as to how people will receive me. I become paranoid when I point my lens at a person, and a rush of wild worry flows through me. Click.
Somehow, despite Japan being more conservative, I feel that it is a lot easier for me to shoot on the streets here, than compared with the States. Confrontation seemed a lot more possible in America, whereas for here, people are more reluctant to talk—at least to me. I have never spent much time in the U.S, although, and have only visited 3 times in recent memory, so that might have contributed to my apprehension. When I did shoot, I was asked more than once “Did you take my picture?” Although it was all friendly, I dreaded the possibility that I would one day photograph someone who would react in anger.
But here, I think I will continue taking photos of the outside world, instead of simply restricting myself to conceptual shoots. If I truly enjoy both, why shouldn’t I do both?
Yesterday when I went out to take an ASL class in Kyoto, I brought my camera and shot this image along the way. It had been snowing, so it was brilliant that the sun eventually came out.
I was indeed spoiled by the California weather. It has been raining and snowing on and off ever since I came back home to Japan; ergo, I am definitely one of the happiest when the weather is beautiful.