Wednesday, January 4, 2012

YOGA STILLS . . . OF ME!

2011 came to a close with me on the wrong side of a camera lens. Not my favorite place. But the end result was a perfect way to conclude the year. It's uncommon for me to like—let alone be delighted with—photos of The Self. But these? These images from my yoga shoot with Ashey Thalman? I love them. I love them because the shoot was about something I love to do, and Ashley's photos are masterful.


It might seem narcissistic and showy, this photo shoot, but it's been on my to-do list for a while. Because yoga is a significant part of my life. It's what I do. It's what I've done for years. And I wanted mementos showcasing the fruits of what I do with my time. No, yoga isn't about the aesthetics; but aesthetics are a inevitable byproduct.

My exercise is also my hobby, and my hobby is beautiful. Beautifully intriguing.



But I didn't only want to display the beautiful; if I only wanted glamor I wouldn't have done the shoot. What's great about using me as the subject for these pictures is that my body, though satisfactory to be sure, isn't perfect—and neither are those of the other yogis I practice with. Real yogis. We like to say that it's a practice not a perfect. What you see in these images is the real me. And I'm actually astonished that what Ashley created can make me enamored with this real me.



So why this photographer specifically? Ashley isn't the only photographer I know. It's not like I chose her by default. My friend Ashley Thalman is a great photographer, and what I like most about her photography is her ability to snare nuance, and that's a big part of my practice—just as it is in my life. Ash sees things other photographers don't—the slope of a back, the grip of a hand—and while still showcasing the big picture she manages to capture those subtleties.

Ashley does detail like no one else. It's exactly what I wanted.


The shoot itself was fun. Ashley was eager. Her enthusiasm was palpable. And necessary. I needed her to want to do this; it wasn't the easiest thing I've ever made myself do. When I said that I was nervous she replied, It's okay. Be nervous. And keep in mind that you might not like these (she knows me), but you'll like them in 10 years. Lucky me, I like them now. (How can you not like photos where a smoke machine's involved?) Ash was also accommodating. She cranked the heat to foster my pliability. Has your photographer sweat for you lately? 

My sister Mal came and assisted, and without her it wouldn't have worked. I appreciate that these images are the product of teamwork, and that my sissy was a member of the team.


Lighting played a major role in this project, and I have a new respect for the complexities of light and the difference a teeny shift can make. Whenever I get to experience Ashley at work I learn things and leave crazy impressed with her knowledge. Light isn't just light, people. It's a tool. A tool that's no piece of cake to use.


Right now I'm crushed beneath gratitude. I'm grateful that I finally buckled down and did this shoot. I'm grateful that I know a photographer who could capture what I was looking for. Grateful that this photog is my friend. Grateful that my sister was there. Grateful that my sister isn't just a flashlight holder but has artistic skills of her own. Grateful for my practice. And I am grateful for yoga. It's changed me. Because I let it.

(Aside from the one of Mal fixing my clothes, I took these images from Ashley's blog. They're just a sampling of this great stuff. You can see the rest in the Instaproof gallery if you're so inclined. Dazzling as they are, the images are worth your time. I may have to post some of my faves soon.)




Namaste.

8 comments:

~j. said...

Wow. WOW. Beauty.

My25Cents said...

Why is it that I feel I know you better after viewing Ashley's entire gallery of your session?

I've been following you for years and it's only now that I feel I have a clearer picture of a more complete Megan.

Beautiful work. Artists on both sides of the camera.

Katharina said...

THank you, thank you. That is absolutely lovely. This new-to-yoga wannabee wants-ta-be like those images someday.

Sparks said...

Phread, Thank you. She did a great job!

Twenty-five, iiinteresting. I mean I guess we can attribute it to the fact that you've never seen that much of me . . . but I know what you meant. If the picture is clearer it's because the photographer did her job well.

Katharina, thank YOU! I wanted these pictures to showcase the aesthetic bits, but the real value, is--as dumb as it sounds--on the inside. Keep up the practice. It's a wonderful way to live.

Megan and Keli'i said...

Gorgeous: you and the photos and your craft.

Sparks said...

Megan, you're always too kind to me. But thanks.

dirtygirl said...

What a great partnership between you and the photographer. The lighting is really amazing. What a great documentation.

Sparks said...

Thank you, Jody! So looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!