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.
“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.
Yesterday I had another photo-shoot for my series “The Mystery of the Girl in Her Garden”. At the moment, I don’t have the desire to say much on the series itself, but I will write a bit on the individual photos and the process.
Once before I asked my sister if I could break her violin for a photo-shoot. Understandably, she wasn’t fond of the idea, so I didn’t push it, even though the violin itself had fallen into disuse and it had been cheap. Today, although, I felt the need to ask her once more. This time she didn’t seem to mind as much, just as long as I eventually replaced it.
I had never broken a violin before, so that was a strange experience.
After I had done the deed, I packed up for the shoot. Along with the violin, I had a black dress, my camera (Nikon D7000+50mm), tripod, and umbrella, and then I was off.
The air has been slowly getting cooler. Along with this new chill, it had been sprinkling. I thought that it would surely rain before I reached the garden, but it hadn’t yet started by the time I reached my destination.
I began working straightaway.
In the moment of brokenness lies a magic that, I believe, cannot be discovered elsewhere. I have found that in my darkest moments laid a blazing fire of hope and inspiration. Once it had been revealed, it was a place I kept returning to, and more importantly, it was a place I could return to. This image, to me, represents those times of trouble, both external frustration and internal struggle.
I was shooting for about an hour, although it only felt like minutes. In the moment I decided I would stop shooting, a downpour began. A beautiful autumn downpour.
This new Ikebana series is wonderful for me, because I am allowing myself to work with whatever happens. Even if one picture seems to differ extremely from the other, I know that that is what will unify them. I want this series, in a way, to match up to the characteristics of nature. To only be concerned with growth, and to be abundant in variation and beauty. My aim is to mimic it’s tendency towards the unpredictable, along with it’s cries for elegance in it’s simplicity.
We shall see what happens.
One thing also to mention about this series is that I am trying to focus on the person in the image being part of the Ikebana piece and not separate from it. That if she was removed from the scene, the image wouldn’t be complete, and vice versa. In a way, it is my own little message about how we should live in our world.
I shot this image in Nara with my very fun model Ayako. She has appeared in my “Tales From Japan” series, and I was pleased that I was able to work with her again. (She is fabulous!)
And a little background story on the title. Reylia comes from the name “Aurelia”, which was my grandmother’s name, and it means “Gold” or “Golden one”. I have always been attracted to that color, and of lately completely enchanted by it, so for this image I thought it would be fitting.
Please enjoy the piece! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask below, or on my FB!
How can I describe what has been on my mind the past few weeks? I have been so full with thoughts that it is impossible to for me to say everything, so I end up revealing next to nothing. In a way I prefer it that way though, at least for now.
At the moment photography obviously constitutes the whole interest of my life, but I have felt the need to aim creative energy elsewhere, so I decided to choose Ikebana (生け花). Which somehow ended up going back to photography again.
Certain frustrations with myself have been piling up a little, so I’ve been falling back on the things I’ve loved most of my life. Simple things like reading or stretching can oftentimes bring me more peace of mind than anything else, so hopefully that consciously adding Ikebana to that list will be a good thing. But I don’t want to force it, either. My main source of stress has been the pressure I put on myself to produce images when I was tired or uncomfortable, so I am doing my best to avoid that. It needs to be a fun thing, and it is necessary for it to come smoothly and effortlessly. The thing you love should never be also something you can come to hate.
The meaning for this image came about as soon as I finished my Ikebana. When we do something for so long, we feel like we have reached a place when growing or getting better stops; all the flowers have already bloomed, or so to speak. But as I was arranging the flowers, I noticed that there was still one bud left. In that sense, there will be always something left to grow. There will also be winters in our lives, but we must never forget that Spring is around the corner and we will again have the freedom to blossom.
This was a funny shoot. I had missed photographing myself for my conceptual shoots, but this time it could work. I loved every moment.
In the beginning I removed the washi doors from my tatami room to the living room where where was a bit more light and balanced them against the wall. I had my sister stand in front for 5 seconds at a time so I could set my manual focus. In the beginning I didn’t know where my other settings should go, so I kept changing them as I went along.
For about 30 minutes I danced with the sensu (Japanese fan) before my camera as the shutter clicked on and off. Twisting and turning, arms flying, and hair being gently moved by a electrical fan that I had set up in front of me. This time I wanted to capture a certain type of emotion. I also wanted it to look painterly.
This picture comes from a part of my identity, being born and raised in Japan. There have been quite a few who didn’t believe me based solely on how I look. I don’t mind too much anymore, it is understandable. I still wanted to create a piece that told that story of that slight hint of the oriental. That vague essence of a Japanese identity.
Definitely want to try this style again.