Creativity Series: Photographer Rhea Anna
Rhea Anna is a Buffalo-based photographer and cinematographer whose commercial contracts have found her traveling the world. The narratives behind her photographs breathe a life of their own, and Rhea has a knack for creating moments of connection in even the most unexpected settings. Block Club recently collaborated with Rhea to create the Unyts “Check Yes” campaign. She was kind enough to chat with us on her aesthetic, inspiration and what makes a particular project meaningful to her.
What is your general philosophy about making art?
My philosophy on making art is pretty simple: live life artfully.
What is your aesthetic? What does a Rhea Anna project look like?
My aesthetic is born out of zestful living. In positive psychology, “zest” is essentially a component of courage, and it speaks to keeping an energetic, enthusiastic, wholehearted approach to life. For me, I try to look at every encounter, every experience—even the challenging stuff—as an adventure. To apply those concepts to the visual work, I like to keep things bright (light, high key), optimistic (natural, fresh palettes), open (visually uncluttered) and simple (well designed).
You’re known for efficiency and quick decision-making in client projects. How do you tackle an unexpected situation, like the sudden need to scale back?
Scaling back is never fun, but it happens, and I try to roll with the punches as best as I can. My goal is to always be nimble and ready to work as efficiently as possible to create the kind of work that, when seen on screen or in print, is never questioned in terms of “production value”. I align myself with people in the creative community who have the same ethos, and we really give a lot of ourselves to make sure the quality of a production is not compromised even though the vision might have to be scaled back due to budgets or time constraints.
What do you notice about yourself when working alone, versus working with your crew?
When I’m at my studio, I really love the solitude. It’s those quiet times that allow me to poke around at my own pace, process the results of the latest projects and sort of come down from the creative chaos that goes with the making of any good work. That calm after the storm is also necessary because it gives me time to plan what’s next. With all that said, though, I really do love my work life the most when I’m surrounded by a team of talented people who all bring their years of experience and skill to set, and give so much of themselves to bring creative work to life.
What was one of your favorite photo shoots or video shoots to work on, and why?
Five years ago I shot a personal project with a very small crew. We went out in a borrowed car, on a rainy day, with very limited resources and came away with a body of work incorporating both motion and stills. That project, called “MINI family” changed my thinking about my career and created so many opportunities.
What drew you to working with Block Club on the Unyts video campaign?
When I saw the Unyts storyboards and script, I knew that the campaign had great storytelling potential, and that the stories being told were important. I also recognized that working with Block Club would be a very collaborative process, and that we’d be able to really craft something meaningful together for Unyts. Knowing that we can put our creativity to work to help make a change in the lives of even just one person means the world to me.
What’s something in your industry that has you excited at the moment?
The availability of high-res, raw cinema cameras is pretty exciting stuff on the scene right now. We have access to amazing image-making tools in a way that we did not even five years ago.
In 2025, you’d like to be…
Doing more work for positive change in my community and in our world.
What is your greatest fear?
Spiders. Well, more seriously—polar ice melting, and both governments and individuals failing to act in time to halt the impact it will have on the planet.