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.
Am I addicted?
We are all addicted to something. For some it’s cigarettes, alcohol, or taking selfies. For me, I got to say it’s Facebook.
Generally speaking, I dislike social media. I got bored of Twitter and Instagram pretty quickly (I literally had to force myself to update.) With twitter, I can’t say all I want to say in 140 characters or less, and for Instagram, I feel that if I don’t add the right hashtags I’m doomed to unpopularity. So I’m too lazy for either of them. But with Facebook, it’s a different story. I feel like it has become the modern-day version of opening up an empty fridge over and over again. The only exception being that I’m not only looking into my empty fridge, but I’m looking into everyone else’s.
I love getting feedback from the things I post, but recently it has just become so bad to the point where I’m checking it every 10 minutes. If I hear a beep, I jump right to it. For this reason, I’m really glad that I stopped using cellphones, so at least once I leave my house, I’m disconnected from the world. But still, when I get home I’m admittedly just as bad at anyone else.
But even though I think I’m bad, it’s crazy to think that the addiction level of the general population surpasses that of mine. What are we doing to ourselves? What happened to talking to each other face to face and having a normal conversation? The internet that was initially intended as a tool is now a crutch.
Honestly, I don’t know why I go on Facebook that much. To some, it might not be too often, but to me it feels like an insane amount of time. When I was younger (before the Facebook boom), I spent most of my time doing productive things like reading, drawing, and writing. But now, I seem to have fallen away with the wave of people who spend their waking hours looking at memes or staring at a screen. That’s not who I want to be. That’s not what I want to do.
SO. Since I can’t eliminate Facebook entirely from my life, I will be thinking of a plan that will help me get over the “addiction”. Because seriously, no one enjoys having to depend on Wifi for happiness.
What about you? Are you or were you a Facebook addict? If we are talkin’ past tense let me know in the comments below how you got over it.
And a current photography update: Going pretty well. I have a list of 40 pictures I want to take at some point in time, so I’ll continue to plan those out. Just as soon as I get off Facebook. Just kidding :3
Hope you are all well ❤
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.