Tell us something about your style

My work stems from the opportunities I’ve had to get to know myself more.
Photography is a way to control what I see and create a reality that I would love to live in.
I feel that the way the people look in my photos is how I wish people looked all the time. I love the idea of growth and comfort through discomfort.
My style is based on the models relationship with the larger composition and how I can make them exist as one.

What’s your background?

Growing up in NYC I was lucky enough to have a father who was very knowledgeable on contemporary art.
New York allowed me to see the most powerful works of art in the world. I fell in love with creativity and self-expression early on and it just shaped my love for the abstract.
I started shooting when I moved from NYC to a small town in South Carolina in 2008. It was an extremely difficult transition, which  led to a very exhausting 5-year depression.
This is when I was randomly placed in a digital imaging class and I learned about photography. My history teacher saw how happy photography made me and soon gave me my first film camera!
I moved to New Orleans in 2012 and fell in love with the city and how colorful yet gloomy it is.
New Orleans is like a dark film with bright colors.

What influences you in your work?

I gain so much from painters like Benny Andrews, William H. Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, Milton Avery, Joan Miro, and Kazemir Malevich. I think they inspire me the most because there’s no limit to what you can do with the body within that medium.
It's a great way to push my models to really contort and stretch how we see the human form. I also see my subjects as shapes within the composition: a green square, red rectangle, yellow circle… it's again all a part of the subject becoming one with the full frame.
I am also inspired by kid culture and children in general. I think children are the best artists because their ego doesn't get in the way of their art. 

When you are shooting how much of it is instinctual versus planned?

I would say it’s about 50/50.
I have a very expansive wardrobe only for shoots, I usually check out the location before we shoot and I do have specific shots I want to get. But as the shoot evolves improvising plays a huge role.
Images are constantly coming to my head! I want the vision of how the body functions or should look to be turned upside down and sideways.
It's all about challenging the reality that I live in and the battles I face whilst doing so.

 What's your message?

I want people to be comfortable with doing things that make them stand out within the world.
I feel it’s so important to be able to express yourself confidently and unapologetically.
I think there’s beauty in doing the things that scare you and it allows you to really grow and learn to accept who you are.
My photos are an expression of growth and self-awareness.
My Photos are all me! 
instagram: @relbw