Since working on the fine art projects Breathe in… Breathe out… Let the human in… (2014) and Animal Within (2015), my love for working with the human form has only deepened. Dance and yoga photography inspires me to celebrate my own body.And I hope that through these images the viewer will reconnect with their own bodies as well.
In the chaos of these fast-paced lives, it is easy to forget to take care of this greatest gift of all: the vessel for your consciousness. Growing up, you hear sayings like…
“A healthy body equals a healthy mind”
“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live”
…but do you ever stop to think about what this truly means?
I love the idea put forward by biologist and philosopher Deepak Chopra in his Tedx talk “Reinventing the Body”, that the human body is not material, but rather an activity or process, ever-evolving. He suggests that through activities like eating, breathing and thinking we are constantly transforming our bodies. You are not only what you eat, but also where you’ve been and who you’ve been with! In his talk, he provides insight on how we may use this to transform and restore the physical body through sleep, meditation, movement and diet.
These images are a testament to the self-love, discipline and determination of these yogis.
But setting up these group yoga group portraits were not only challenging for the yogis themselves, but also for myself as the photographer. Having never worked with a group this size before there were several obstacles that needed to be dealt with. I thought we could all learn from this experience, so here are some tips to assist with your yoga photography.
3 tips to take better yoga portraits:
Backdrop. I wanted to shoot against a black backdrop, but this was impractical considering the size of the choreographed groups. As a result, hours of careful etching were required to complete the images. I highly recommend finding a big space with minimal background distractions to work in. Spaces to consider could include a rooftop at night with the dark skies as the background, or perhaps in front of the drawn curtains of a theater stage.
Lighting. The reason I wanted a dark and minimal backdrop for these images was to accentuate the forms with directional lighting. For this shoot, I worked with four Photon studio lights angled from the back and sides, as well as two Nikon speedlights to light into the center of the group as well. Still, I felt I could have done with more lighting. So, the more lights, the better!
Directing the group. Ideally, you will need everyone to be in the full expression on the pose at the moment the flash is fired. Consider having a yoga teacher working alongside you to direct the group. They know best what the poses should look like, and you can focus on taking the photographs.
These images were captured in association with Nikon, Vanguard and Photon Studio Lighting. We made a little stop-motion movie of the process to share the joy of the day as we experiment and play in the yoga studio.
Special Thanks to the amazing people at Cheryl’s Yoga Studio for working on this project with me, especially Samantha Feher for her assistance in directing the shoot.
Capture & Retouching | Field Photography
Yoga Studio | Cheryl’s Yoga Studio
Music | “A Touch of Yoga” Compliments of http://www.purple-planet.com