Let’s start by getting the facts straight: Reka Nyari is talented, passionate, gorgeous, and will probably intimidate your girlfriend. Born in Finland and raised in Hungary, her passion for beauty started at an early age and took on many different forms, from her time as a fine-art oil painter while in school in New York, to her years in front of the camera as a model, to her now rocketing career as a fashion photographer. Her aesthetic is sexy and raw and always tells a story. Her latest endeavor, a recently published book of her work entitled “Femme Fatale; Female Erotic Photography” is a modern and powerful look at beauty and sexuality. As a side-note, on the day that this introduction was written, Reka got engaged to her long-time boyfriend, NYC-based designer Ian Brewer, who has been a recurrent subject in her photography. Congratulations!
Please give us an introduction on who you are and what you do.
I am a NYC based fashion photographer and an artist. I’m Finnish/Hungarian (Finngarian), grew up in Finland, and have lived in NYC for 14 years.
Did you move to New York with certain ideas/plan in mind, and which were they?
I came here with my first actor boyfriend to go to art school. I wanted to be a painter. I attended SVA for four years, and then entered the world with an apartment filled with huge photo-realistic paintings. Needless to say, I ended up doing a lot of other jobs before finding photography and being able to make a living from it.
What was the decisive point for you to start making photographs as a commercial venture?
I was dating a singer/musician, who had a campaign coming up all over NYC to promote his new album… I just took some quick snaps of him in the shower, and the record label ended up using them for his campaign. That’s when I realized it could be more than just a hobby, and I could actually get hired for jobs. I started building my book, and a year later I was getting paid assignments.
How long have you been living in New York?
14 years. In the middle of it I lived about a year in London and another in Singapore, but I always had my place here, and had to come back.
What do you think makes NY special in comparison to other cities you have lived in?
New York has energy like no other city I have ever been to… and I have traveled a lot. It draws artists and alpha-types that give it a unique, fast-paced heartbeat. I love being surrounded by crazy artists. And walking fast.
Do you miss the European lifestyle?
We live a pretty European lifestyle with my boyfriend Ian… We enjoy life, travel a ton, and definitely drink our share of good wine. I’m happy to have a job that I’m happy to do even on my time off… I’m always shooting.
What makes you satisfied about a shoot, then later a specific shot or a whole series?
Well… Usually careful planning and great team and casting assures that I’ll be happy with the shoot. I usually know how things are going while shooting… There are few surprises when editing, but generally I know If I’ll be happy while shooting. I love a visually interesting and original shoots with a narrative, or something to say. I like to create beautiful things.
What could be a typical day / night for you?
I usually work at my home office in the LES, just like today… I edit, do retouching, plan shoots, and correspond with clients. At the moment I just finished three rather large shoots, so my days are long and tedious with editing and retouching. On a typical day, I could also be location scouting, having meetings with clients, or my favorite, shooting. I try to fit in a workout at least few days a week. I go out few nights a week… It could be an art opening, dinner or drinks with friends, or a party. Or we stay in, make good food, and watch a movie.
Describe your work in 3 words?
Sexy. Narrative. Edgy.
Do you prefer studio or on-location shoots? And why?
Depends completely on the shoot… Sometimes a studio is the best way to achieve the desired result, but generally I prefer to shoot on location. It’s more stressful and challenging, but there’s freshness and fun in that unpredictability.
Name a person who passed away whom you would like to shoot.
Do you have a specific playlist when you shoot?
I have several… A sensual one for sexy shoots, and more upbeat, energetic one for fashion shoots. Most importantly, I want the model to be inspired. It can add quite a bit to the mood, and really influence the outcome of the images.
What’s your best music find of 2011?
Any films that you feel have helped shape your visual aesthetics?
I grew up watching Roman Polanski and David Lynch…Definitely Bitter Moon and Blue Velvet.
What can’t you live without?
Being creative. I need to make things. Otherwise I feel like I am not alive.
Favorite place to eat in New York?
Besides our house (I love cooking)? There are so many… Mostly places that have either amazing food (Blue Ribbon), great atmosphere (Schillers), awesome cocktails and wine (Freeman’s), close-by awesome sushi (Takatachi), excellent Korean food (Dok Suni)… I love living here, with so many amazing restaurants.
What’s coming up in the near future?
Bigger, better, more sparkles!!
You just published a book. Tell us about this body of work.
It’s a 240-page, rather large coffee table book, that has some of my sexiest images from the last seven years. It’s called Femme Fatale; Female Erotic Photography. The book is available Worldwide, online and in bookstores, and translated to 6 languages. GQ Spain called it “The book that will make your girlfriend fall in love with erotic photography”. It has a different angle than most erotic books that are geared towards men.
Do you ever get odd mail from people who have difficulties accepting nudity? What does it make you feel?
Actually, I have never gotten such an email. I get a lot of emails from people with naked photos of themselves, hoping that I’ll want to shoot them. Some are quite amusing.
Share an anecdote with a sitter/model who did the most unusual thing not requested by you.
Hmmm… I guess she asked me out and then kissed me.
For more information on Reka’s work and photography please visit her portfolio.
Photography: Fette Sans
Color Grading: Ailine Liefeld