Shell Within Shell.

I AM PAPER SERIES ©Reylia Slaby 2016



Today I was again caught in a whirlwind. A cruel, blustery tempest. These past few days have been full of me chasing after myself, but then running away from it as well. I fidget all day, carrying this anxious feeling within my chest, that threatens to choke me. It seems to say: When is it good enough? “It” being the art I produce, or rather, myself. I spend so much time fixated on it’s perfection in my mind, rather than production of the physical art itself. I am aware of this in myself, and it leaves me in even more suffering and guilt, stuck within a vicious circle. I tell myself that perhaps this is growth, but I find myself trapped within shell within shell, like a matryoshka doll.

Even as I type, I am fearful. Will even this be good enough? Where have I developed this abnormal fear of imperfection from? Perhaps it was something that naturally permeated and stained my being after being birthed and bred in the Japanese culture? A slow trickle of poison. Undetectable in small doses. Could that be the culprit?

Because when I was younger, I remember not fearing anything. I remember what it felt to be inspired by a piece of work rather than intimidated of or jealous of it.

Can I reclaim that sense of self? Hopefully I can find it again this year.




A walk


Besides conceptual photography, I also have occasional walks where I have no planning with props, models, or ideas. I enjoy walking alone. I have a personal love for the native elegance in nature, and today especially gave me more reason to increase that love. It was so beautiful. When I am within that sphere of serenity, everything seems to come alive and my struggles in this struggling world melt alway like dew before the sun.

10 Things Photography Teaches.

A few of the things I’ve learned from photography. I usually re-learn them all each time I have a photo-shoot.


1. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t.

Sometimes I’d go on a photo-shoot and know from the start that it wouldn’t work out. The models weren’t right together, I compromised the prop or location, or I just wasn’t feeling the idea. This has happened a lot. But I grow from the mistakes. If you aren’t feeling it, then there is something you should change. This applies to every facet in your life.

 2. There will always be another photo-shoot

I’m usually in a  bad mood if I don’t have a photo-shoot planned. If I get lazy and don’t make plans, I ask myself, I have about 50 ideas drawn up in my sketch book, why am I not making any plans to have them materialised? Then i get out there, shoot, and feel a bit better. When I finally do finish up a photo-shoot and have it edited, a deep satisfaction rests upon my soul and I can sleep well that night. But then the next day I feel like I have to create something just as good or better. I ended up repeating the same cycle where I was depressed because I didn’t have anything planned. There will always be another photo-shoot.

3.Everyone is more beautiful than they think.

So many people tell me “I could never model, I don’t have the look for it.” Being a good model has very little to do with how you look, and everything with your attitude. It is the ability to pull emotions from deep inside you and show that through your expression and body. It is being willing to wade in dirty waters and stand in the rain because you believe in the artist and the idea. That means more than a pretty face.

4.You will get stuck, but you will get out.

At this period in my art, I get stuck a lot. I don’t have the resources I wish I had and I can’t travel to beautiful locations. So I find myself using the same area again and again, and trying to squeeze everything I can from that particular place. I end up losing inspiration. But, I always end up finding another location close by that I missed, but is just as beautiful. It is an art to see old things in new ways, and I use that to escape from my rut.

5.It’s OK to use your breakup for inspiration

I’ve shamelessly used my ex for ideas. A lot of people have commemorated me on this, because they wouldn’t do it themselves. They would be scared about how it would be received. They wonder if it is healthy to display your feelings where everyone can see. Let me tell you, if you can find healing through it, it is healthy. As long as you don’t disrespect anyone through your images then feel free to use your pain as an advantage. If I can take all my negativity and turn it into something beautiful, then that is a hope I will carry with me for the rest of my life. That there is beauty in pain.

6. Art helps you understand yourself

Art reveals to me my weaknesses and my subconscious struggles. There are so many questions I have, so many problems I don’t know why happen, but when I throw art into the mix, things became a lot clearer. Or when I am having problems thinking of new ideas for photography, how I am during those times reflect my current state of mind. Can’t focus? Are you scatterbrained? You want to do everything at once? It is rarely art’s fault, but helps you discover the side effects of something that can be poisoning you.

7.A failure isn’t a failure.

When I had my first “failed photo-shoot” I was devastated and I felt incompetent. I was so scared that I would never take a good photo again. But I found out that my so-called failures had nothing to do with my talent, but everything to do with my state of mind and how well I planned out the shoots. I was rushed, I wasn’t thinking clearly, and what I created was the product of my sloppiness. I’m lucky because when it comes to my conceptual photography I can afford to be sloppy, because it is all about understanding yourself and finding out the things you need to change.

Once I had a shoot fail because I had no soild idea attached to it. I didnt see the path in how I would edit it or what the story was. But about four months later, I saw it differently, and I managed to create something that meant something to me. So the shoots are never a failure, either you learn something from it or you save gems for later to re-discover.

8.People don’t see the mistakes as well as you do

Don’t freak out over the mistakes, because the chances are, you are the only one who can see them.

9. Simplicity is key

Whenever I think that I need fancy equipment or extravagant props, I always look back on my most popular photos. In “To Cut Your Ties” all I used was a some string and a scissors as the prop, and yet I balanced it in a way that it was aesthetic. You don’t need more than you need to create something beautiful. All you need is your idea and your determination to see that idea come to life.

10. Just do it.

Do not procrastinate. This has got to be my biggest downfall. Some days I spend so much time feeling low that I end up getting nothing done. They say that procrastination is the fear of failure. I would believe that. You fear that what you do won’t effect anyone, that it won’t mean anything, that no one is going to care. Prove yourself wrong.



Don’t Make Art

Don’t make art, I told myself.

I’m not creative, so I will never be able to be a good artist. I will never be able to reach the level of all those other people. I know I haven’t drawn since kindergarten, but I was always told I wasn’t “the artistic type” so I know for sure I’m not. Sure, all the kids that grew up to be artistic used to be just as bad at it too, but I remember being really bad at it. I know, I know, criticism comes with the territory of the art world, but I know that even if I put in the hours of actual art training, I still wouldn’t be good. Besides, I’m more left-brained.

Don’t make art, I told myself.

There are so many people in the world who make art, why do they need more? It’s not like my drawing will change the world. I might be able to change myself, alter the course of my whole life,  and impact the people around me, but still, that wouldn’t be worth it. If the whole world doesn’t know, what’s the point?

Of course, when I do meet those people who are artistic, I will compliment them on their spectacular talent, and make sure to add that “I’m not creative at all”. But also mention that I wish I was, just to seem a bit more open minded. Maybe even crack a joke about my stick figures.

Don’t make art, I told myself.

I walked through the art store and saw how much that canvas cost. Is this store insane? Don’t they know people have dreams here?! I also took a stroll through the electronics section in the store and saw how much that camera was. Are you kidding me? Do you think I can afford that? Sure, online I could probably find one for less than half the cost, but I won’t bother searching because I need the newest and best one on the market. Otherwise I won’t be the best I can be.

Don’t make art, I told myself.

If I ever wanted to *god forbid* sell my art, then thats another range of skill sets I need to acquire.

I wouldn’t be able to make any money on it. I know that the main purpose of art is to not only inspire others but also yourself, but I will stick with the idea of success before I even start anything.

Don’t make art, I told myself.

I’m much too busy. I have so many things to take care of. Not to mention, I’m stressed. Sure, there are scientific studies being conducted on the health benefits of visual arts therapy, music engagement, and expressive writing, but I shouldn’t take that chance. I might accidentally make more stress.

Don’t make art, I told myself.

I’ve met those artists. You know, the types who end up quitting their job to “pursue their passion”. Then they never have a fully stable job after. Who wants to end up like that, all oozing with passion and all?

Don’t make art, I told myself.