It’s hard to know how a woman will react when you ask her to meet you at a construction site at the end of an abandoned residential street just after dark, but Julia’s unwavering voice said simply - “Sure!” It also helps that I have known Julia for years.
The point of our meeting in this obscure location is for my ‘Painting With Prana' project. With traditional yoga photography, I always felt a disconnect with a lot of the outdoor shots. I get the idea, but seeing a girl doing a handstand on wet boulders near a stream-although impressive, seems counter intuitive to me. In my mind, yoga is all about movement, flow, and a spirituality which transcends the merely physical act - all of which are very difficult to convey through still photography.
Jules is there just before I am, we discuss outfit choices and then gingerly make our way across the construction site in the encroaching darkness. Our destination - a decrepit dock with loads of character (and splinters) - is a spot where I have spent every warm lunch hour for the past year and a half (my previous job was a foreman on a large residential build). The uneven platform is mostly submerged in a thick green bed of rough horsetail reeds, and takes a short hop to get onto.
As the blue/green glow of dusk starts to fade from the sky, we devise a plan of potential shots and sequences to try and capture the moving form of yoga. I attach two small LED lights to the palms of her hands, manually dial in the exposure and focus on my camera, and remotely trigger the shutter as Julia starts to paint the sensor with sun salutations. It takes a few tries to get the correct exposure with the right amount of movement, but soon the photos start to take shape.
With the technical side figured out, we are free to get creative with different angles, sequences, and even adding a little bit of the Jane Fonda workout in for good measure. There was a lot of laughing, a bit of rapping. Another goal of my shoot was accomplished by letting the unique personality of the yogi shine through their movements which was very apparent with Julia’s unique blend.
Painting with Prana is an ongoing personal project featuring some of my favourite yogis in unique locations. The project is always evolving and changing, so I’m not really sure what the end result will be. For now, I am just enjoying the act of creating and collaborating on a technique which seems to be new to this discipline.
- August 2014