So, I was asked if I would bring my camera to the yoga studio to photograph one of the classes. The goal was to get a few shots for the studio’s webpage banner. I was honored, thrilled, and petrified all at the same time.
The owner, who made this request, is a talented photographer herself. Brilliant in her ability to visit far off places such as India and Peru and “bring it home.” I would have to step it up a few notches in order for the results to meet her needs. But I willingly took it on, calling her up to get her vision for the end-product followed by a field trip to the studio to get an idea of how to work with the lighting in the room.
It should be noted that this studio is a home away from home for me. It’s not just a place I go for a work out; it is a gathering place for the many yogis and yoginis I’ve come to call my friends. The vibe is welcoming and non-shushed. From the grand opening, over 2 years ago, we were encouraged to get to know one another by greeting the person on the mats on either side of ours, to push the edge and laugh out loud when we “fall out” of the pose. It is my community – which I have been missing in these last few weeks as my back has limited me to about 30 minutes of modified self-directed practice at home. It was like a reunion showing up there again.
Class began as usual. I began clicking a few shots minutes before, adjusting the lighting, and finding my own yogic flow. I felt oddly connected – OMing along with them with my camera in hand. And a funny thing happened…
My eyes began to well up with tears. Okay, perhaps not such an odd thing – for me. These tears were NOT tears of being excluded from the class; they were tears of joy for the way I felt connected with them and with their practice. I wasn’t on my mat. I wasn’t doing the poses. But I was practicing yoga.
At the same time, I was practicing my photography. And when the sun blared through the window and the images when completely white, I used my pranayama to stay calm and ask my camera what it needed. This was my 1st time shooting in MANUAL: manual aperture, manual shutter, manual ISO, and manual focus. I studied the graphs, adjusted, viewed, adjusted, viewed, SWEATED, adjusted viewed… until I finally got an acceptable image. Intermittently, the sensor that confirms appropriate focus (because my eyes are aging) showed two arrows pointing towards each other. Whenever this happened I would whisper “WHAT?” I’d adjust to no avail. The images looked okay so I continued, taking it as message that Nikita (that’s what I call her) was throwing her hands up in the air and that her message was “I don’t know what you want either. This is ALL YOU.”
Ninety minutes later, I left the studio inspired and feeling good about what had just happened. But hours later, when I uploaded nearly 400 photos, I was completely overwhelmed. They needed a lot of work in the way of processing – another skill that I am still acquiring. I closed my laptop and took a nap. A few hours later, I marked the images that I thought had the most potential and processed only them. I liked them for their potential but was not as pleased with the processing. The following day, I processed the rest and felt even more discouraged.
Now it was Monday and I had my 9-5 job to attend to. I showed them to my photography guru of sorts, the dear friend who has been teaching me along the way. He encouraged me but I wasn’t believing him. Admittedly, I was feeling so discouraged that I was not enjoying photography at that point. Photography for fun is just that. But photography when it matters is HARD WORK.
By the end of the day however, my friend had edited a couple himself and sat down with me to show me a few more ways that Adobe Lightroom 4 (LR4) can help to bring out the part of the photo that you want to spotlight, yet hide the parts that you don’t. I went home and got to work, starting with just one then taking on another and another.
That was Monday. Last night, I pulled out my favorite 20, changed the names to describe the photograph (which often meant looking up the Sanskrit name), and uploaded them for the owner to view. I sent the her the link today and am hoping that one or two of my photos will be used on the site. Either way, I gained A LOT from this experience. I stepped out of my comfort zone, deepened my practice as well as my connection to my yogic community in the process.
For that, I am extremely proud of myself.
Note: None of the photos you see here were in the top pick which I sent to her. Those are for the studio alone.