Reya Karthik: Externalizing and Internalizing the World Around Her

by Catherine Gonzalez ‘22 

Source: Collage from Catherine Gonzalez ’22, photos from Reya Karthik ’21

Published Apr. 5th, 2021

MHS senior Reya Karthik is known for the photos she’s taken that represent far more than meets the eye. Recently, she’s had her work featured in different gallery spaces and has received many commendations. 

Reya’s photography career began by chance in 2018. Reya, who has been involved in art for most of her life and loves working with “every medium [she] can get [her] hands on,” wanted to try out the Photography 1 cycle offered at MHS. “I ended up loving the class so much,” she said.

Photography 1 propelled Reya forward in her work not just as a photographer, but as an artist as a whole.

“I go through spurts of things,” said Reya. “For the past couple months, I’ve been crocheting [and] before that, I was painting; [photography] is something that I can always do that isn’t easy for me to lose interest in [because] what makes photography so special is that it’s so universal for me that I can use it to process any topic.”

The journey Reya embarks on to create photos all starts with an idea. “I watch a lot of media, and I’ll fixate on one topic. I [then] think of a bunch of characters who emulate that archetype and those characteristics,” she said.

Reya’s different photoshoots are all connected through a few general themes: “All of my work is about empathy and what it means to have connections with other people. People are the coolest ever.”

When she is with her models preparing to capture an idea, the process in doing so deeply involves both her models and Reya herself as the photographer. However, “a lot of it is up to the models. Generally, I’m not making many modifications; it’s more like suggestions,” Reya explained.

Despite her fear that her attempts to bring her visions to life won’t always meet the expectations of others, Reya carries the mindset that “I’ll always be my harshest critic, and that’s what is putting the emphasis on needing to be the best at anything else in the first place.” 

For other photographers out there, Reya’s advice is “to keep creating. Not everything will stick, but something will!” She believes that creating art is “the act of practicing appreciation: even if you don’t like it, the fact that you put that one foot forward is something to commend and celebrate.”

To see more of Reya’s work, you can check out her Instagram page @reya.k_.

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