Beautiful scenery, unique angles, and attractive people make yoga photography a popular subgenre of sports photography. The best professional yoga photographer shows not just the athleticism of the practice, but the meditative, peacefulness of it, too.
If you want to improve your yoga photography skills, these ten tips will help you get beautiful, iconic photos of yoga.
1. Start on the Ground Floor
Yoga poses begin on the ground. Practitioners set their feet or their hands, and then they build the posture. If you start your photograph on the floor, you meet the practitioner where they are and catch the glory of the angles and the body’s strength in your photos.
Beginning on the ground simplifies the photo and puts the eyes right on the model. The background and foreground enhance the yoga with picture styling.
2. Research Poses and Places Before You Arrive
Do not head into the photoshoot unprepared. Instead, as a professional photographer, you should research the location, the practitioner, and the yoga pose they want to do. Choose a favorite yoga photo from several top photographers so you can get inspiration.
Ask your subject to show you their favorite yoga photos so you can see if they like simple shots, elaborate backgrounds, or ironic photos. In the time before the shoot, look up the pose and check them out from all angles. You might find that the pose are more impressive when you shoot them from the back or the sides.
Practitioners might have difficulty holding a pose for a long time, so knowing the best angle is in both of your best interests. Check out what top photographers are doing for yoga headshots, too. These photos catch the eye, but many practitioners need headshots for their bios, blogs, and social media profiles.
3. Slow Down and Take Your Time
When you are shooting practitioners and yoga pictures, take your time. The practice unfolds as yogis warm up. If you rush through the photoshoot, you might miss the advanced poses that the subject can do after they’ve run through some sun salutations and basic poses. If you want a perfect yoga photo, you have to be patient and professional.
Let each yoga photo unfold slowly, and you will be amazed at how an advanced yogini can get into poses when they trust that you will not rush them.
4. Find the Unexpected
Not every yoga studio is in a tropical oasis with palm trees, golden sand, and perfect sunsets. You might be in a basement or a busy storefront. The key is to work with what you have and try to find the unexpected.
If you’ve got people hustling past a window while you try to capture peaceful positions, work with the dichotomy in the yoga photo. If you’ve got a location that is not on the ground floor, work with the steps or elevators. Put your yogi in an unexpected place, because your viewers will take notice.
Don’t forget to consider the colors around you, too. If you’ve visited the studio before the day of the shoot, ask your subject to wear colors that match the setting. Or you might ask the opposite, especially if the subject is dazzling, and the environment has calm, neutral colors.
5. Mindfully Design the Yoga Photo
Yoga photoshoots showcase yogis, yoga poses, and locations. You should work with the purpose of the shoot in mind. If you are showcasing poses, ask your subject to wear fitting clothing in colors that show off the positions.
If your focus is the yogi, your subject needs to bring items that let the viewers learn about her. She should get her favorite yoga jewelry, books, bolsters, incense, and other things that showcase personality for the yoga photo.
The same goes for the location. The positions and the yogi become secondary to the site, bringing lights and other necessities to showcase why this location is perfect for a yoga practice.
6. Use the Available Light
Many yoga studios are known for having dim, flattering light. Sometimes photographers should showcase positions in full, bright light. But, there are also times when photographers should use the light they’ve got. It’s the light the yogis chose for their students. Photographers should play with light, and a studio is a perfect place to do it.
7. Play With Exposure
Along with playing with light, each yoga photographer should also play with camera exposure settings. A long exposure could create some intriguing movement amid the stillness, which is what yoga is about. With prolonged exposures, your yoga photography begins to resemble a painting.
Your exposures could be a few seconds or a few minutes. When you add unique light to similar yoga positions, the exposures could end up with some exciting blur.
Yoga is considered a sport, and the typical sports photographers tend to work with speedy shutters to capture movement on the field or the court. With yoga, you can slow down your shutter speeds because the practice does not move quickly.
But, if a yogi is attempting a challenging pose, you might need to adjust the speed to capture the asana in the instance that the yogi falls out of it.
8. Keep the Image Clean
Yoga is a practice that helps people clear their minds. So, when you choose your location, keep it clear of clutter and fussiness. Clean backgrounds will emphasize the subject in your photos. A clean set does not have to be one minimalistic color, but keep the image simple, so viewers’ eyes know where to go in your pics of yoga.
Don’t forget about the model and the props in your photos. If your model has a mat that has sweat, ask the model to use a different one. Check that the model’s clothing is clean and free of lint or sweat stains. If you miss those little flaws, they will show up in your photography and make it look amateurish.
9. Use Repetition
Yoga has beautiful angles, so if you notice a repetition of those angles, use them. Don’t just use the asana for shapes. Try to incorporate the angles of the mat, the floor, the walls, and other architectural or environmental details.
As a photographer, you should play with hard and soft elements to show off the practice’s dichotomy. Your yoga photo could become a favorite if you capture the angles and other aspects in a unique way.
10. Showcase the Smiles
Yoga practice is fun, which is why so many people enjoy it. Yes, yogis are serious about the training, but smiles make the practitioners more approachable. The best smiles are the real ones, and those often happen when the camera isn’t focused on the subject. Keep your camera ready at all times so you can capture the real emotions in a yoga picture.
While photography backgrounds and yoga clothing should look flawless, the practitioner does not. Yoginis are real people who fall out of pose and make mistakes; these mistakes make priceless photos.
Don’t hesitate to capture the gaffs in your photos. You might just catch a true gem of a beautiful yoga photo when you least expect it. Professional yoga photography should capture the whole practice, which is rarely flawless.