The Face For Others

Being born and raised in Japan, I often find that there are certain characteristics that I have naturally acquired, yet have no idea how, or when. One is what we call “Tatemae”. A hideous word to me, meaning the face you put up in front of others. Socially speaking, it is a natural and almost necessary tool to survive. Culturally you aren’t supposed to stand out too much, a constant and never ending play that you are supposed to follow. I grew up fairly segregated from Japanese society, and yet I found that this concept of Tatame has naturally infiltrated my personality. When meeting someone new, you must have a different face, must talk in a specific and decided way. Naturally of course, most countries have varying degrees of this, as it’s not a completely foreign concept. And yet, Japan has found a special place for this word, and it is threaded into the spirit of the people. So for someone like me, who looks nothing like the masses, is quite an overbearing task navigating the social scene in a way that is understood. My task is to unthread it, and to see what remains. Who was I before all of this started? Hopefully 2019 will show me.



Reylia Slaby

Fine Art & Fashion Photography

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Day 24 | Skin


Image Copyright © Reylia Slaby

Today has been a bit more unusual for me. I have been out and about in Osaka, taking care of errands, meeting with a make-up artist I often work with, and also gathering a few things for shoots. While the things I have done are brimming with banality, what changed the pace of it was just that: My pace. I’ve had a bit of a running injury, in that I’d worked the muscles of my calves so fiercely that now I am unable to walk, but instead now am forced to shuffle. My annoyance was that I was unaware of how badly I had pushed my legs. I had only gone running for an hour, and was at my usual pace and route, so it was surprising to me how badly my legs hurt the following day, and even worse today. Alex thought that I might have been exaggerating my walk, but I am sincerely immobile. A walk that once was ten minutes is now thirty.

While I hope that tomorrow is better, I must say that part of me has found this outing to town in this state almost refreshing. There wasn’t for a moment that I had a chance to rush along with the crowd, but instead had to carefully navigate my feet up stairs and through the twists and turns of city roads. I had time to read posters, and to look at people. I felt myself think, instead of having my thoughts brushed away with the breeze of my pace. I never thought that something like this could be pleasant, but in all if it’s irony, it is. Maybe the secret to happiness is slowing down after all, allowing enough time to feel and absorb all that is happening around you.



Recent Studio Shoot, Recent Thoughts


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.



© Reylia Slaby
Fine Art Photography
INSTAGRAM: @reylia.slaby

Last Fine Art Piece of 2014, “Rain, Rain”

“Rain, Rain”
Photo: Reylia Slaby
Model: Hiromi

I can’t believe that 2014 will be coming to an end in just one day (Wow..). With that being said, this will mark my last fine art piece of 2014.

Before I go into detail about the piece itself, I want to talk a bit about “Teru Teru Bozu”, the little doll made out of cloth. It is a very common to see them here in Japan. They are amulets against the rain, and children make them as crafts for when they are wishing for sunny weather.
For a bit more information on it, please follow this link:

This year has been a whirlwind for me. So many amazing things have happened. Because of my schedule and new responsibilities, I haven’t been able to think straight for the last couple of months. Now that the dirt has settled a bit, I feel like I am slowly coming back to myself.

2014 was a mix of the good and bad, as it was for everyone, I believe. We all had things that weighed us down and made us feel less than happy. In my case, I brought certain ghosts from 2013 into 2014 and let them haunt me the whole year. I wished for sun for a long time, and despite knowing that it was up to me to push away any dark clouds, I didn’t, and continued to make personal choices that didn’t bring any happiness.

This image is a bit different from my usual style. It was shot only yesterday, with my beautiful Nikon d7100 and 50mm lens. It was the first time for me to work with someone so young, and I loved it. She was such a fireball of energy, so curious, and so decided on doing what she pleased. She asked me so many questions, questions I didn’t always have an answer to. She helped me remember a bit more clearly what having fun looks like.

The title comes from the song in English “Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day”. Now this picture encapsulates all I want from 2015. It has been raining for a long time, but now it’s about time for a bit of sunshine. Not saying that there won’t be other storms, I’m sure I’ll receive my fair share in 2015, but there are one or two things I need to let go.

I want to walk into 2015 with a heart of a child and with a hopeful spirit. To look forward, but not to be afraid to look back and to learn. To keep dreaming and to keep on growing.

And a special thank you to EVERYONE who has been supporting me, encouraging me, and loving me this year. I owe everything to you.

Have a spectacular 2015, everyone!! Here’s to the New Year!!



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On “We Were Blinded”

Love-blinded2-smallHave you ever been in love? It is definitely a beautiful experience like no other. As you step into the world you see that it is a magnificent mass of twirling, twisting fabric and leaves. You are empowered, and you feel as if you can do anything just as long as you continue dancing. The light makes it’s way through the leaves of the trees and gently touches the floor and your skin. The world that surrounds you becomes kaleidoscopic and fills your body with it’s resonating energy. The music that plays is the beating of your heart and the whistling wind.

You take your parter’s hand and you are whisked away into a reverie of forevers, dreams, and  “Never let me go”. You are sure that this would be the dance of your life; you can feel it.

But then your partner trips. That’s OK, we all forget the steps sometimes so we forget and forgive and continue to sway and move together. It is hard to pick up the harmony again, but once again you move together as if the beat had never been broken.

But you never realized the one problem during this splendid dance: You are blinded. Through the madness of the moment, you can’t see the person for what they truly are. Their flaws fade away before you eyes in a rose colored fog.

So this is love.


sketchIn my own attempt to describe and understand romantic love, this picture was born. It started in October of 2013, I believe, with a simple sketch. I thought of my previous relationship and how it ended, but also the times in between. When they say that Love is Blind, they really know what they are talking about. It is not anyone’s fault, it is just that sometimes people have different dances. Sometimes too different. So then they end up spinning away from your life. When this happens, you are catapulted into reality and everything becomes a thousand times clearer. Then you ask yourself “What was I thinking?”  But cest la vie, it is in the past.

This idea had been sitting in my sketchbook for about 5 months until it was actually materialised. It gave me a chance to properly plan it out. Also after 5 months, my Photoshop abilities had got to the point where I could manipulate it almost identically to how I saw it in my head (At least this image). It wouldn’t have been the same picture if it had been earlier.

1382790_583131335067238_2139790226_nI then contacted fashion designer Michelle Hebert ( Upon viewing her portfolio, I knew straight away that I wanted to work with her, so I sent an email to see if she would be interested in making a gown for this project.  I told her my idea for it, and then off we were. Since this photo was about love, I knew I wanted the dress to be red. But I also wanted it to be long. Really long. She definitely delivered. The dress she designed turned out to be perfect.  I had such a fun time working with Michelle on this collaboration. Also along the way, we became good friends. I’m looking forward future collaborations with this wonderful woman!

For the model, I had my friend Ayumi come in. She has modelled for me before, so I knew that she was the only one for this shoot. She works as a dancer and has the ability to be any character I give her. The guy for the shoot, Araya, was also really great! It was my first time modelling him, but his fun personality made photographing him a pleasure! Bascially, both of them were wonderful!

I was a bit worried about this photo-shoot, because it it quite different from the pieces I normally post. Sometimes I can be scared of exploring my full expression because maybe it won’t look “Fine Art” enough, or that it will deviate from “my style”.  But then I knew that I loved the picture myself, that it expressed the feelings I once had, and that is what matters. Sharing art is about sharing parts of yourself, even the fears you may have. It is about understanding yourself as an artist and person, and inviting people along on your journey.  Thank you all for coming on it with me!

If you have any comments, critiques, or questions, please post them below! I would love to hear what you have to say!



Yesterday I Was Kidnapped

Yesterday I was kidnapped. Don’t worry, it was only in my dream. Dreams can sometimes be a mirror into your thought life, and through this I got to understand an important part of myself.

The dream was still fresh in my memory when I woke up, but I couldn’t remember how it happened and I didn’t know exactly who my kidnapper was, but I saw the faces of the people who were also captured. As I looked around I realized one thing. We were all women.

Apparently I had been there one month, and I was struggling endlessly to get out. But one day I decided to turn around. Behind me were a set of stairs laced with hundreds of blue butterflies that lead downwards into a forest. I knew this was the way out. I floated down and beckoned my fellow captives to come with me. We all escaped. I found my family (who apparently didn’t notice I was away) and begged them to call the police.

I started to live my life normally again until later in my dream, I saw two of those same women willingly get back into the car of their captors. I was shocked. I tried to remain hidden just in case they saw me, but I couldn’t understand why they would want to go back to that horrible place.

After I woke up, I asked my sister to look up dream symbols. What does it mean if you are kidnapped?

To dream that you are being kidnapped denotes feelings of being trapped and restricted. Someone or some situation may be diverting your concentration and your attention away from your goals.

It made sense to me. Recently, I got out of an art block. Of course I have them often, but this one was different. This one was attached to a thought pattern I’ve had for about a year. The feeling of being not good enough. Being quietly obsessed with how people perceive me. That no matter how hard I try, no one will care or understand.

I realized in that moment that that was my kidnapper.

Recently it feels as if I broke out of that pattern of thinking. I may have not rid it of me completely, but it does weigh on me less these days. But like those two woman who got back into the car, it is easy to relapse into negativity. You are doing it to yourself and no one is forcing you to think in that way.

No matter how different we are, we all have similar worries and fears. The desire to be loved and accepted reigns strongly within us. It is natural. But maybe the key is understanding yourself first. I struggled with that idea, because I would often depend on people for confirmation. While that isn’t necessarily bad, there is one person you should never exclude in that group. Yourself.