Day Two. The last gift summer gave

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From this project, one thing I hope to learn would be new color pairings that attract me, and use them for inspiration and reference in future photoshoots. It happens on occasion that I see certain colors that intensely grab my attention; they look like what poetry would, if poetry was a color. For several moments I admire it and muse that it would be nice to use it for a new piece. But I rarely document them, and it goes unthought of and forgotten.

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But today, as I walked down my street, small purple flowers floated above my head, and quietly landed on the cemented road below; a gentle proclamation of the forthcoming winter. Before I came across this subtle scene, I had been quite upset, and was very raw with emotion. But as this slow dance of the relinquished season was demonstrating itself on the road, just by watching the natural array I instantly felt separated from my sadness, and was able to just look and enjoy the simple beauty that was there to publicly enjoy. One of the last gifts summer gave.

Always,

Reylia


http://www.reyliaslaby.com

http://instagram.com/reylia.slaby

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One Year of Pictures. Day 1

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Image ©Reylia Slaby 2017

It surprised me about how fearful I was about this project. The idea of just taking one photo a day, an instant of my life, and then posting it. There was a sharp resistance that flooded through me, and within minutes I recognized it as the fear of the imperfect.

Somehow I had built it up in my head that everything I shared online had to be a spectacular, fully formed, and completely thought-out piece. And to keep my “reputation” as a photographer, nothing had to be anything less. I couldn’t strive for anything but my ultimate best each time.

This way of thinking came slowly over the course of my life as a photographer, sharing piece by piece, and rarely disclosing the numerous images that failed. The concepts that I hadn’t been able to do justice.

I had been wanting to do a 365 day series for a while, but each time my thoughts played with the idea, I had dismissed it because of my obsession with perfection, and creating an image with multiple layers of meaning. On top of it, I was also a bit skeptical about the idea of a “series”. This distrust stemmed from a phone call I had with a gallery owner in California several years ago. We were talking about my work, and he commented on how the flow of my pieces wasn’t consistent, that it didn’t feel complete as a series. And to be honest, while I eventually compiled my pieces under a single series title, none of them had been intended to be constricted into one series, but to stand on their own two feet. Because I was younger, and quite green in the Fine Art world (I still am), I felt instantly inferior because I couldn’t create a streak of homogeneous images. I had attempted to make a series several times during the course of the year, only to come to the conclusion that me in my present state didn’t make art in that way. I couldn’t create in accordance to what fit the mold of what a gallery wanted.

So eventually I associated the idea of a series as something constricting, a confine that prevented me from creating work in the way that was in harmony to my spirit and style.

But then, something changed.

It started by me feeling bound by the precision I felt my own work needed to have. Creating become a chore, instead of something I desired to do. I felt that the way I wanted to make my pictures was unattainable, and therefore eventually didn’t create as much. I had in essence trapped myself within a cage of who I felt I needed to be. I didn’t know how to enjoy myself within what I was creating, was terrified of failing, wasting resources and people’s time. Failure was my antagonist.

Eventually, after separating myself a bit from Fine Art, I’ve come to have fun with fashion and beauty photography. It’s something I enjoy, and am learning to incorporate more of myself into it. It does take a very long time to learn what is you, and what isn’t. Because I have found this new outlet, I have come to peace with my inconsistency with Fine Art, and for some reason, feel more inspired than ever to create pieces. It’s an enigma, a colorful and confounding puzzle. It feels wonderful.

And so, somehow today I decided it would be the day that I collected pieces from my everyday life. And to be ok with people perhaps seeing them as less than artistic, tacky, and maybe even unprofessional. All I know is that finally today, I am more excited about the future and of life than I have been in the past several months. It brings tears to my eyes, and I feel joy because I am finally taking steps to my convalescence. I know that this type of illness will always come and go, but the healing does indeed feel miraculous.

So for my first image, behold, flowers. Not exactly normal flowers, like roses or a lily, but something a bit weird, and a little imperfect. Just like me. And maybe just like you too.

Always,

Reylia

The Red Era

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Some time ago, about two years now, I was at a festival. This particular one I had looked forward to every year. It was here that I had discovered a part of myself that wasn’t scared or anxious. It was during this one day, my brain allowed myself to transform.

It wasn’t until the evening, that a man came up to me. He told me he was a friend of my mother’s. He was friendly, but looked at me intently. We chatted casually about the day, him a drink in hand, and me sober. A state to remember everything. “Oh Reylia.” he said, suddenly changing the topic. He cupped my face in his hand, and then briskly stroked my cheek. “You could be so beautiful…if your skin wasn’t like this.”

Pain and shock erupted in my gut, but left me speechless. Because of this man, the skin trouble I had been dealing with for years might have finally broken me. Every morning, the first thing I would do was to look in the mirror and to see if it was gone. Every night, I would check the mirror again to see if it leveled out through the day. It rarely did, if not get worse with the sun, air, and sweat. Despite all the things I used to try to heal it. And here at the festival where I felt the most confident, I had in front of me all my demons, all my insecurities, in the form of just one man.

In my daily life, once I stepped out of the house, I tried to never mind my skin too much, and to remind myself that there were worse things to worry about than how I looked. In that way, I was confident, and concerned myself with matters that involved my art or my education. Unfortunately makeup had the tendency to hurt my skin more, so it was always me naturally, bare skin to all.

After the words had come out of the man’s mouth and his hand had fallen back to his side, I realized that all my friends were walking ahead back to the station, so I had no time to react properly. I rushed to my group, and was quiet for a while, processing how his comment, his physical gesture, made me feel. I touched my skin gently as the train swayed back and forth, the texture rough to the tips of my fingers.

It was then I realized how much I didn’t care. But that I did want to turn it around and make something through this time of mine. The Red Era. Maybe that’s what it’ll be called. Whatever this time of mine is, I won’t let anyone take away my joy at just living, breathing, and being alive. Here, now, and in my skin.

Always,

Reylia

 

 

Recent Studio Shoot, Recent Thoughts

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Recently, I’ve been working with a team to create photography pieces in-studio. It is all-in-all a wonderful experience, though it can be conflicting. In the past, I had predominantly done Fine Art Photography, and lately it has been harder and harder to create within that realm. Almost as if I’m not quite ready for what that next step is. I am still preparing myself for what direction I want to go to. But I do know that I am starting to adore the sphere of fashion and beauty, and I am learning. Painfully so. I’ve spend so many hours staring at thousands of images in admiration, imagining the process of how it was completed, but only to have it like a skeleton in my brain, incomplete. I’ve been overwhelming myself with going over the processes, the possibilities. This dream, I’ve come to realize, has the capacity to destroy me. But when it doesn’t, I adore it. Creation is complex in that way, and in some respects contains elements of Stockholm syndrome. It takes you captive, gives you pain, but you stay. Perhaps that’s why I sometimes feel locked in, and unable to move.

In some ways, it’s a wonderful thing, to love something so much, that even when it hurts you, you choose not to leave. I’d like to think that that’s how you know when it’s real.

But admittedly I am fearful. I’m afraid of showing exactly how this field of mine controls me emotionally, and how it makes me feel. Its gut-retching to see everyone try to present themselves so confidently, whereas I quiver, so prone to honesty. When all I wanted was to just make beautiful things, and to not have to feel like I had to succeed online, have a stance, have a following. Popular on this social media, that social media, until it chokes you. It’s just so saturated that it’s painful.

But I hope that one day it can all come together and be beautiful. That even with all this excess, we can merge together and make sense of this all together. Can you imagine what a murmuration looks like? An enormous, overwhelmingly breathtaking flock of starling birds flying together in unison. Once you see it from afar, it makes sense and it’s awe inspiring. I hope that that’s what we look like as well, once you step away far enough. A flock of creatives, doing what they can, flying and soaring. Doing what they naturally do, with the by-product being beauty.

Always,

Reylia

© Reylia Slaby
Fine Art Photography
WEBSITE http://www.reyliaslaby.com
INSTAGRAM: @reylia.slaby

Photography, my teacher.

no-faceI have often said that photography teaches me things. It helps me understand where I need to grow as a person and how I need to live better. How I act within the sphere of my art is often in correlation with my daily life.

One problem that I’ve had many times with photography is sacrificing the idea I have in my head for convenience, which usually ends up horribly. A basic example: In my head I see my model in a red dress, but I don’t have a red dress, I only have blue. So I use the blue instead, and I end up being quite disappointed in the end product. Just because I didn’t want to wait to get the red dress.

This has happened a lot, and In the end, I become depressed because the photo-shoot didn’t work out.

From the beginning I usually know if it will turn out or not. On the day of the photo-shoot, I can feel my blood pumping, the adrenaline rushing through my body because I’m scraping my brain for an idea, an inspiration, anything. The model arrives, and I explain the idea that I no longer feel passionate about. In my head, I’m thinking “I wish I had a better prop”, “I knew I should have changed locations”, or “Shoot, I didn’t know she dyed her hair…”. But I was never brave enough to admit that I knew deep down that because of my own mistakes, the shoot would probably never materialise into the finished product.

Except last week. I was scheduled in all morning, and my last plan was a photo-shoot. Because of the busy day I didn’t feel fully equipped and ready for it. I was exhausted, I had a headache, and wasn’t feeling inspired at all. Also, because of complications with the first location we had to switch to Plan B. Turns out, my Plan B location had a make-over and all the beautiful vegetation had been chopped down for the summer. Now that place wouldn’t work either. I then began to furiously scribble ideas into my sketchbook to somehow fit in an idea. The familiar rise of slight panic and frustration visited me once again. When my friend, the model, arrived, she saw how tired I looked.

“Do you want to sit down and relax somewhere before hand?” She asked. I responded with an eager “Yes!”

We found a Starbucks and we sat down outside in the spring chill. While she went to get her coffee, I contemplated this feeling of deja vous that I had; I knew that I had it before many times. It was the sign for when my photo-shoots would ultimately “fail”. It was a mixture of anxiously trying to make a story out of nothing, and feeling like I’m letting my friend down. It was me feeling incompetent and unconfident, so any child that is born from those two parents would be the epitome of bad art (Or so were my worries).  She would never see the picture.

I made the decision to brave up for the first time and admit that I didn’t think the photo-shoot  would be good to have today. After I told her, she understood perfectly, and I felt a huge rush of relief.

Of course I can’t do that with everyone. I was just lucky that my model that day was a good friend, and that she understood my limitations. I think that is something all artists need.

Art is tricky business, I found. Not only when it comes to business, but it affects you strongly on a personal level. You set up imaginary consequences if you fail produce something amazing. You convince yourself that if you don’t reach the quota of pieces per month, your happiness will be withheld from you. You must get that shot.

I found out the hard way that you need to be kind to yourself. That even though you should aim for perfection, perfection shouldn’t be the ultimate goal. That isn’t what great art is made up of. You need learn to understand…you. That is our motivation in what we do.

Always,

Reylia

http://www.reyliaslaby.com

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.

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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.

Always,

Reylia

http://www.reyliaslaby.com