Finding Beauty: My start in conceptual photography
December 6th 2013
I believe that deep down, we are all artists. No matter who we are or what we enjoy doing, we all have a spring of creativity inside of us. No one had to tell me this, I just understood it as natural. And how I came to call myself a “conceptual photographer” seemed just as natural.
I’m Reylia, and I’m a conceptual photographer, but that isn’t all I think I am. I am also a graphite artist, a poet, a dancer, a model, a writer and a reader. Not because I do all of those equally as much, or that I’m spectacular at any of them, but because I love them all equally, and have all had their place in my life.
It started with the pencil, but when my interest in taking pictures started to overpower it, I put drawing on the back burner and flung myself into photography. I loved natural light, but then felt I needed to learn how to manipulate it so I experimented with soft boxes and other things, and gradually got comfortable, only to realize again how much I loved being outside and in the sun. Still up to that point, I was sticking with portraits and beauty shots, but I felt like it still wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be.
But in the spring of 2013, I had my first intentional conceptual shoot and entitled it “Our Lives”. I don’t even remember how it happened exactly. It was just a small idea I had, and the concept meant something to me. But from that point on, I knew that I had found something I loved. To me it was something wild, something that just happened, like a storm. It felt like magic.
Since the photo-shoot, the concept, and the editing came easy to me, I figured that the next one would be just as natural. But it wasn’t. The creating process was still fun, but in the end, I knew that the concept was drawn out for the sake of having a concept, and I couldn’t personally relate.
What went wrong? I didn’t know, but I would keep trying.
It wasn’t until not long after, I ran into a problem in my life. And while that was still going on, despite not being emotionally strong, I was still committed to going out and shooting.
I clearly remember the day of the photo-shoot that changed my whole view on photography. That day I had no idea what I wanted to shoot, and the model was going to arrive soon. I was sitting on my sofa, becoming slightly more depressed by the minute. I had no clue as to what what I wanted for the concept and everything seemed to be falling apart before my eyes. And in that instant, I saw an image of a young girl, cutting a string and cutting the problem away from her life. In my head, it was so beautiful and peaceful, a stark comparison to how I was feeling inside. I had the idea, and I literally jumped up and down from excitement; this was my ray of sunshine.
The shoot itself was perfect. Simple, fun, and besides the set up, it probably took less than 30 minutes. And when I put it into the computer, I began to see how I felt inside become a picture.
What I didn’t know before was that I can’t just take concepts with emotions that I’ve never felt. I can experiment with them, but until they come to me, I can’t fully know them, thus limiting my expression. I realized that I needed to photograph what I felt and loved, and KNOW what they were. I also discovered that finding beauty beneath the rubble is not only possible, it sometimes even calls for you to pull it out.
I hope you also will learn to find beauty as well.