The summer of 2017 marked a somewhat special moment for me. I got asked for my first commercial photo shoot. Ok, I’ll admit, I kinda hinted at the possibility of me shooting at a certain location.
The yoga school where I practice, announced that they would be organizing a 5-day teacher training at a spectacular location. I let it slip that I would love to shoot at that location and if there would be a way for us to collaborate, benefitting the both of us. And guess what, they were looking for a photographer to document the training. Again, I got the reassurance, that if you want to know something…ask! You never know what opportunities will present themselves.
Having said that, this was exactly the moment I got a bit nervous. I had never shot on assignment before, so that was phase one of my unnecessary nervousness. To make things even more challenging, I decided that I wanted to do the shoot 100% analogue.
As the location would be a magnificent church, which now functions as an event location, I knew lighting could be an issue. So I organized a scouting day with the venue. This gave me the chance to walk around and do a bunch of test shots, experimenting with lighting and trying to figure out how I would go about shooting on THE day.
It felt quite spectacular simply walking around the location, without anything happening on the premises. I could take my time, never felt rushed and there was this calmness radiating from the different rooms in the church.
How different the energy levels were on the day of the actual shoot. I arrived crazy early, so I could take my time gearing up, packing film in me cargo shorts and talking to the people working this event. As the main room filled up with yogies, it became clear that there would be hardly any room for me to move. This worried me as I was supposed to shoot from multiple angles, vantage point, distances, etc. Actually, the way I would usually brief a photographer for my day job.
Being a beginning yogi myself and having a dance background, I was quickly able to “read” the people and their movements and by doing so, anticipating their next move. Which comes in handy when trying to walk around without having the room to do so and when waiting for THAT ONE MOMENT to shoot. As it was a 10 hour shoot, people got used to my presence as the day progressed and I got more used to actually being there. I got my nerves under control and wasn’t hunting my frames.
A major part of the training meant that the students were physically active, which already energized the room we were in. More fascinating though, was that everybody involved was absorbing information, digesting that information and by doing so learning through physical activity. It seemed as though this actually fired up the room and as I was observing the day’s progression, focusing intensely on documenting this day, learning from what Shiva Rae was teaching, I couldn’t help myself but feeling very fortunate about being part of the experience.
Eventually, I walked away with 4 rolls of 35mm film, 8 rolls of 120 film and, ok, also some digital shots. I just didn’t want to put all my eggs in the fragile, analogue photography basket. In the end, it’s the story that matters and the medium is a means of telling it. But I know now that I could go all film in the future.
But more importantly, I was on cloud nine during my bike ride home, as I left the venue after an amazing new experience that will stick with me for quite some time.