When asked how her success happened she says “it took off very naturally,” and admits to being thankful to various donations from friends, “someone lent me their camera, someone else had a computer, then a studio, lighting.” Having started out shooting a great deal for free and then progressing to bigger jobs and covering everything from album covers to commercial fashion campaigns it seems her success has indeed been a on an upward swing. Clearly a good investment for those early supporters.
She is herself decidedly anti-technology, a point that she says she has had to overcome. Her reluctance to let go of her old Pentax now eclipsed by the desire to push herself further. She acknowledges that, “it takes a while to migrate to something else.” She remains focused however on allowing the process of a shoot to occur naturally rather than allowing the technology to dictate.
Her work is clearly inspired by the likes of Terry Richardson, Cindy Sherman, Guy Bourdin, Helmut Newton and Miles Aldridge, Saying of Aldridge “ he offers us a window into an alternative universe”
Reka’s images are incredibly sexy but there is also a subtle, underlying sense of humor about them. Being a female photographer can make quite a staggering difference in how a subject is viewed. With her photography there is no sense of voyeurism, or objectivity about these images, you get the feeling with these subjects that they know you are watching and they are quite comfortable with that. Reka’s work is a blend of both the art world and the commercial one, the two overlapping with ease and just the right amount of edge without being overtly shocking. She also tends to use women in her pictures, which in an industry obsessed by young, nubile teenagers pretending to be ten years older, is an impressive feat. We spoke at length about how the fashion industry is dictating these trends, acknowledging a well known truth: “The standards of women are now defined by men who aren’t interested in them.”
Reka herself prefers to book older, curvier women for her jobs. Believing also that you can make any body look beautiful when you take the time to explore angles and focus on what you find attractive. Having both been inspired by the images we grew up on in the Supermodel era, when bodies were bold and staggeringly beautiful yet still appeared healthy, we wondered what, if anything, would eventually make the pendulum swing back. The use of so many actors now in advertising and fashion has prompted many debates about where the industry is moving. “People want to see personality” but “now they have to be thin, and have boobs”, a tough call when all they signed on for was to play a role, not to sell perfume or lipstick.
Reka feels that by using models that pack a little more punch, so to speak, we will then be inspired to look like women rather than the young teenagers who get to play dress up while they finish their homework. The current industry bubble, we both agree, needs to burst. But the question is who will burst it. Reka? In her way she is, by seeing women through her own eyes, not as objects but as sensual creatures, beautiful in their own way. “I would rather book a girl who is 28 that looks great for her age, than one who is 17.” Having most recently shot for Korean Cosmopolitan Magazine, an achievement in itself, being an incredibly traditional and male dominated society, she is clearly a woman who has the potential to break the status quo. What remains to be seen is what her next step will be, what doors she will force open. Whatever boundaries she shifts, I am under no illusion it will be all done in a charming manner and with a somewhat knowing and rather naughty smile.
To see the full collection of Reka Nyari Photographs, visit http://www.rekanyari.com/