Recent travels spark a yoga photo series
Hi all! After two months of international travel on a ship, I’m happy to say that we’re finally land-based again. The journey was fantastic, but it’s good to be back and getting into our groove again.
The recent trip took us to Hong Kong, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. After about six weeks of Asia ports, we then cruised over to Alaska and down the west coast of the good old U.S. of A. When we’re on board the ship, we’re teaching a class. When we’re at port, we’re out exploring and shooting.
This was our complete route, starting in Hong Kong and ending in Los Angeles.
When we are out and about with our cameras, Karen and I usually find it pretty easy to “get into the zone,” so to speak, in our shooting endeavors. This trip, however, was a little different. We’re not sure why, but despite our engaging surroundings, we had a hard time getting into shooting mode. This isn’t an uncommon thing to happen to photographers, and it can be hard to figure out how to get out of a photographic funk. So how did we do it? By starting a photo series.
One of our early ports was in Keelung, Taiwan. We had been exploring for a while when we came across this shrine. It was pretty quiet there and we were sitting on an elevated platform when Karen asked me to take a quick iPhone shot of her. She’s a yogi and wanted to do a yoga pose in front of the unique building. I took the photo and then edited it in the Snapseed app while we sat there. I ended up liking it so much that we did another shot at that shrine with my “real” camera. I ended up liking this even more. We both decided that this would make a great collaborative series and that we could seek out interesting backdrops all over the world.
The first iPhone shot that sparked our photo series. Tree pose in Keelung, Taiwan.
This was the second shot we did at that same shrine. These red doors were begging for a photo! Wheel pose in Keelung, Taiwan.
Having a series that you’re working on changes the way you approach shooting, especially when traveling to new and unfamiliar places. Instead of simply wandering about looking for interesting shots, you’re exploring with a purpose. We would still take our normal travel photos, but we would constantly keep our eyes open for interesting locations to make a yoga image. We found that the spots that worked best were ones that were fairly simple and that incorporated shapes, colors or textures. The shape aspect is especially critical because it would have to complement whatever pose Karen is doing. Over the course of about two months, we would try to take at least one (sometimes more) yoga shot in each location. It has evolved into a fantastic collection that we’re both really proud of.
The challenges: Aside from the challenge of actually finding the locations, there are lots of other variables/challenges that go into creating these images. First of all, there’s the communication. I’m not a yogi, so Karen has to show me what the pose is going to look like and then teach me what to look for and how to correct her if necessary. I also need to convey to her what needs to be tweaked or moved so that she is perfectly placed within the chosen environment. After all, she can’t see what I’m seeing and often times, just moving her an inch or two will line things up in the way I want. There are also times where she has completely rejected an image that I thought looked pretty good. That’s because there was something about her form that wasn’t ideal. The other challenge is the crowds. It turns out that when she strips down to a tank top and bare feet and then contorts in some crazy and beautiful way, people want to watch. Most people are very considerate in that they don’t walk in front of the camera, but it can be disconcerting for her when there is an audience and she can hear the mobile phone cameras going off behind me. It’s totally expected, and we’re not bothered by it, but it does add another factor when creating these shots.
As I said before, we’re really proud of what this series has become, and it’s something we plan to continue. We’re not sure if we’ll use the images for anything in particular in the future, but it’s definitely a possibility. (Lots of folks have said that they would like to see this turn into a book.)
I am keeping an updated gallery of these images on my Facebook Page, and have included a few more below. Enjoy!
I love that she appears to be diving into the water in this image. This was in Kodiak, Alaska and Karen’s palms were numb from the cold! The pose is called Peacock and she said it’s one of the most physically challenging poses in the series (so far.)
This pose is called Upward Facing Dog, and we took a taxi to this museum because we knew this sculpture was there. This is the art museum in Aomori, Japan.
Here is an instance where we WANTED the crowds! This is the busiest intersection in Tokyo, Japan. We found the spot for her to stand and as soon as the traffic lights turned red, she would get out there and hold this. I had to use a really slow shutter in order to blur out the people, and she had to hold very still. We stayed here for several traffic light cycles, taking lots of shots in order to get different variations on the blurred crowd.
You can see the rest of this series HERE.