Over the last couple of years, I've had the privilege of photographing many different yoga teachers. After working with both men and women, new and advanced practitioners, in studios and at outdoor locations, I've picked up a few tips that I thought might be helpful to anyone who is preparing for a yoga photoshoot. So here they are, my top tips to get the most out of your experience:
1. Observe as you practice. In the weeks leading up to your session, try to take note as you practice of the asanas you love, the ones you don't, and those you think will photograph well.
2. Jot down a list of poses you'd like to include at your session. You'll want to think of a mix of standing poses, balances, backbends, and floor based postures.
3. Think about location. Would you prefer a photoshoot in a studio, or outside? Studio shoots are great because they make for consistent, clean images. Shooting outside can give you more varied backgrounds. I personally love both, for different reasons. It's just up to you to decide what kind of look you're going for.
4. Pick a time with beautiful light. If you're working with a natural light photographer (like me) you'll need to choose a time based on the available light. If you're in a studio, that can vary a lot depending on how many windows there are and the direction they face. If you're going outside, the windows of time 2 hours after sunrise and 2 hours before sunset are ideal.
5. Bring props to your session, little things that are meaningful to you and can add extra dimension and interest to a photo. Some ideas: mala beads, singing bowls, a journal, crystals, or a favourite candle.
6. Invite a friend. Many of the yoga teachers I work with are keen to have photos that show connection with a student (in the case of a photoshoot, this is usually a pretend student). This is typically a short part of the session, where someone else joins us and models as the 'student' while I get shots of the teacher assisting them. If you'd like to bring along a friend for this reason, make sure to check with your photographer first. Most will be fine with it, but it's best to check.
7. Decide on 2 or 3 outfits. I advise my clients to have 1-2 yoga outfits and 1 'regular' outfit for headshots/lifestyle shots. What you wear is really up to you and your personal style. Side note: the unexpected juxtaposition of a yogi wearing 'normal' clothes or even dressier clothes (like a long dress) while doing yoga poses can look amazing. So consider this permission to think outside the box and do something different!
8. Try to squeeze in a practice before your photoshoot. It doesn't have to be long, just enough to feel that you've warmed up a bit.
9. Pack water and snacks. You'll be exerting yourself quite a bit and it's important that you have good, healthy snacks to keep your energy up and water so you stay hydrated. This is not a time when you want to feel hungry!
10. Refer to your list but go with the flow. While you don't want to be super rigid, having a list of go-to poses can help when the inevitable 'OMG I'm having my photo taken and I all of a sudden can't remember anything, yoga... what's yoga?' moment occurs.
12. Relax and enjoy yourself. You will most likely feel awkward at first and that's totally normal! I find that most people start to relax about 15 minutes in and that's when it starts to get fun.
13. Play music. Speaking of enjoying yourself... For many of us, music makes us loosen up and feel happy. So if you're shooting in a studio and you have access to the speakers, consider playing a favourite playlist.
14. Take a bath! When it's all over, you will most likely be feeling sore. Most of us have a good side and a not-so good side, and when we're having photos taken we'll be doing most poses on our good side. Over and over and over again. You'll also be holding poses for longer than normal as your photographer moves around you to capture different angles. Make sure to take care of yourself and take it easy for the rest of the day, and finish the day with a long soak in the tub if you have one!
If you have any questions at all, please leave them in the comments and I'll be sure to answer you there. And if you're interested in having yoga photos taken, I would love to work with you! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org