One critical aspect of being a yoga teacher is having attractive pictures of your self readily available for promotional purposes. This ongoing project is not ego driven, but in fact necessary for career sustainability in a market driven culture. A few of my peers are featured in remarkably striking ad campaigns or gracefully adorn the cover of magazines, they are the quintessential “yoga models” and can perform many fantastic and complex poses in front of the camera with ease. However, for me the quest for the ideal image has been illusive. First of all, I lack the “bendy” body that prevents me from doing those exotic poses that are so visually appealing, and therefore feel self-conscious in front of the camera. Nevertheless, it’s been difficult to find someone to photograph me in a pictorially compelling way. Over the years, I have enlisted talented friends and colleagues for photo shoots in casual settings: notably parks, a faux finished living room, or on a stroll through downtown Los Angeles. Although I sincerely appreciated these off-the-cuff budget friendly attempts, I have never been fully satisfied with the results. Friends would always say “Oh, what are you talking about, your pictures on your website look great!” In my mind these pictures were merely suitable –to arrange a professional studio shoot someday was always on my mind.
Shortly after returning from Tokyo, I received an e-mail from Kelly Furey whom I met when I taught a community class at Lululemon in Beverly Hills. Now, working for Fluid Frame Photography, she said they were offering a special package deal for yoga teachers. The price was agreeable and so I decided that this would be the time to go for it. I spent the next weeks before the shoot preparing and practicing daily with intensity while watching the pounds. During this time, I also began think carefully about how I wanted to be depicted, considering outfits in bright colors contrasted with a slick black outfit for a touch of elegance. I even spent an entire afternoon scrounging around Danny’s Warehouse in Culver City searching for the perfect black leotard.
On the day of the shoot, the morning of August 25, I showed up with a bag of yoga attire, an assortment of jewelry, hair and make-up done by me, feeling prepared and in control for once. Me, and Jessica Kang, a colleague from my Yoga Works 300 Hr. Professional Program, were scheduled back to back and we agreed beforehand to spot each other. Placed against a pristine backdrop, I posed for almost two hours, asana after asana, until my muscles cramped up and could hardly move. People don’t realize how challenging a shoot is on the body– maybe it’s the lights, the pent-up nervousness, or the fact that you’re doing poses out of sequence repeatedly, but I would be sore days. Nevertheless, Lisa Joy LoMurray (L.J.), the creative force behind Fluid Frame Photography, was the ultimate professional, patiently and intently snapping away with a high-tech camera, 111 images in all. Young, bright and talented, L.J. has been crafting her skills in the niche of yoga photography and she is assuredly establishing her presence in the field. She has produced an abundance of wonderful images of yoga teachers in our local community.
Two weeks after the shoot as I was boarding the plane to head home to Maryland for Labor Day, I was able to see the first proofs on my cell phone. I paused for a moment and smiled. I couldn’t believe what I saw—L.J. seemed to capture a vision of me that I’ve never seen in print. She was able to make me look captivating in even the simplest and most basic of poses. In the weeks to follow, I would find it very difficult to narrow down my choices to just fifteen pictures, so I went for thirty!
When I reflect on the collection of my yoga pictures from years past, I realize that as teachers, we are always evolving–perhaps through our tireless commitment to the practice, teaching and learning, it is somehow possible for a deeper dimension of our self to shine through. Finally, I have images of myself that truly gratifying.