Day 7 |Soul


Image © Reylia Slaby. Image may not be used or revised without permission.






Recently I had a shoot with a new friend of mine. I contacted him about a shoot last August I believe, but since it turned out that we lived oceans apart, we would have to wait. Finally got to meet him last month.

My set-up is always simple. One light facing to the side and a backdrop. Elements of this shoot would be new for me, because I had never worked with smoke before. Not to mention, I rarely get to work with male models. Females seem to dominate within the sphere of my profession. Luke was a real sport, though. Hopefully sometime in the future we’ll get to have another go at a shoot!

Also, I am definitely in love with black and white shots these days. There is something captivating and mysterious about it that I can’t explain well with words. The way it hides and reveals. It’s simplicity. The way it balances everything out, and leaves you feeling fulfilled without being overwhelmed. Yes, I am definitely going to be working with it more this month.



The Facebook

On “They Called Her Ame Onna”

The more I do photography and write about it, the more I realize how hard it is to be honest in today’s world. There is so much pressure to be perfect that it can overwhelm you and even turn you into a really negative person. I feel the pressure daily, as we all do.

 One of those pressures for me lies in identity. People who are born into the same culture as their parents can’t truly understand the mindset of the third culture child. While I don’t want to dramatize it, it is true that the older I become, the more I am aware of it and the more it affects me. When I was younger, I remained blissfully unaware that I was different than the other kids, but now even when I’m in the store and the clerk says “Enjoy your stay in Japan!” I have to physically stop myself from explaining my whole life story of how I was born and raised here. I want to cry out, “This is my home”, “I’m not different”, and “I belong.”

 It can be painful, but I do by best to push the negative side of it away. But what about the people who take the negative things about their lives and carry it wherever they go? The people who wear their pain like a medal of honor and never let anyone forget what they are going through?

 “Ame Onna” 「雨女」in Japanese means “Rain girl”. It pretty much refers to any female who brings the rain wherever they go. So if you are going to a picnic, and it happens to rain on that day, you could be an Ame Onna. But what about a rain that others can’t see or feel?

 Sure, pain can be beautiful and we can’t ignore it, but there are so many people who choose to dwell on the problem instead of working on it. I can be that type; I tend to over-think painful experiences and feelings. But it is never good to carry your pain around. Only by putting down the umbrella can we realize that the rain has stopped and that the sun is now shining.

 Any comments or questions please message me at  🙂



What Art Taught Me: Passion

What Art Taught Me: Passion

Originally written on: December 31st 2013 

Previously, when someone used the word “passionate” to describe themselves, I always felt a bit uneasy. I never knew why for sure, but I suspect that it is because I felt that on some level word was sacred. Using that word would be akin to calling yourself a genius or a prodigy. To me, they walked hand in hand.

 Despite loving the arts my whole life, I could never bring myself to say that word. I loved everything I did and immersed myself in it all. But to me, it wasn’t being passionate, it was being natural.

 I do think that society has used that word so much that the meaning has been lost, so now most of us are left with a bad impression or no impression at all when it’s used. I think it’s a pity, because when you really look at the word, you realise it holds so much meaning and depth that is usually taken for granted.

 But I didn’t have to look through a dictionary definition to understand it.

For the most part, I found it through the times I was taking photos. It was a slow process, though.The first time I caught a glimpse at it was when I took my first intended conceptual photo. It was there, my feeling was being reflected in my model and I felt it for a moment. But it was only for an instant and it passed by me.

Then after being hurt by someone I cared about, I found it again through heartbreak. It came to me and I saw how I was feeling as a picture. I felt it, and nearly breathed it. But not in the way that Hollywood depicts it, but the way you see it in a beautiful dream. After you wake up, all you want to do is return to all those heavenly images that were dancing before your closed eyes. That’s how it is for me. I feel in images.

 I’m lucky enough to kind of understand passion. I don’t have a very tight grasp on it at all, but I do think it can be in all of us. My question is, is it wrong to say you’re passionate when you don’t know how or why you are? Is passion something we can have? Does it reside in us innately? A free gift to each person as we go through this funny little thing called life? I don’t know. I don’t hold all the answers. But I do hold a few questions. And maybe if we all ask loud enough in one big booming voice we will find an answer ringing back to us.

 That is what I hope to do though art. To find understanding about the life that surrounds me. Something inside me wonders that if I take all the influences, good and bad, and then echo back with art, maybe I will be able to see it more clearly.

 In the end, looking back at my body of work and the experiences I had with each one , I do think I can be passionate. But not all the time. Sometimes I can shut it out, but it keeps knocking until I open up to it again. It is very understanding.

 I found passion in many places during all of my photo shoots. I’d like to share a few with you.


 In To Cut Your Ties I found passion in the spur of a moment and the beautiful short hair of the model.

 In Wait I found it in the fact that my model had been a ballerina as a child, and I saw it in the graceful placement of her arms, even though it had probably been years since she danced.

 In It Can’t Protect You, I found it in changing my clothes on a public road in front of a friend in the rain, just because I needed the shot.

 In A Bleeding Heart, I found it in hardly wearing anything at all, nearly slipping on the rocks and dipping into a cold pool of water that I momentarily shared with spiders and water-bugs.

 In Running From Yourself, I found it in a field. I walked about two hours there and back, with all equipment over my shoulder. I was alone, and at the end of the photo-shoot I found myself running through the field and jumping, yet I didn’t know why. I was just happy. Even though no one was there to see it.

 In Your Promises, I found it in my model, who was an embodiment of passion herself. To the way her mouth moved and to the way she clutched the stems of the flowers. I wished I could be like her.


 So many…so many. There quiet experiences lead me to a place inside myself that I wouldn’t have been able to discover otherwise.

 Hopefully one day I will understand passion better. But not to use it as a tool to explain how much better I am than someone else, as if passion is only reserved for an elite few. No, that isn’t why it’s here. It is meant to fuel us to make more of itself. For what purpose? I still have yet to know. Maybe one of you have the answer




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.

Finding Beauty: My start in conceptual photography

Finding Beauty: My start in conceptual photography

December 6th 2013

lena3xI 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.