All posts by Dave

Ramblings on Perfection and Diana in a Yoga studio:

For a while now I’ve been thinking about what I want to do photographically as an artist. I have been moving towards shooting film more and more as a way of renouncing the need for perfection. I know that I’ll never be perfect in several different dimensions, and that no one is perfect. I talk to a lot of women about doing their photos and, with only one or two exceptions, they demur because they think they aren’t photo worthy. At the root, it’s because they don’t look like the models and celebrities in the magazines. This is troubling because even the models and celebrities don’t look like their photos. The photos are routinely passed through photoshop to have years of wrinkles removed, pores pored over, limbs lengthened and thinned, waistlines shrunk, bulges disappeared and on and on. The images in the magazines have an underlying theme that the viewers will never be that beautiful, unless maybe they buy the creams and potions that the magazines have sold ad space too. The advent of photoshop leads to the expectation that all blemishes will be removed and that, somehow, a portrait isn’t done until all sense of reality is distorted. No wonder body dysmorphia is so common!

This weekend I had a chance to do some photos with Diana of her doing her yoga routine. Diana is a runner/athlete who has done several marathons and half marathons and is now  in training for an upcoming Half Iron Man competition. In addition she is a Yoga instructor. This is all on top of raising a houseful of kids and balancing a job and relationship. She is a driven woman.
Diana is incredibly fit as you can imagine. When we talked about doing some photos of her I wanted to catch her being real. You don’t get fit like she is by sitting on the couch. She pushes herself hard to be competitive, and she does yoga for the centering it gives her.  That’s hard work too. She  teaches yoga so that others may experience the peace it gives.  I wanted to strip away all the distractions so I shot her with the idea to do the photos in black and white. I wanted that for several reasons. The color in photos add distractions. Yoga is about stripping away distractions. I also wanted to have a more Life magazine gritty realism to them. I didn’t want “pretty” photos, I wanted “real”. I used the window light and pushed the sensitivity of the camera to get usable photos without distracting flash or light sources. Pushing the sensitivity involves a technical trade off in that it gives slightly noisier (less perfect) images, but, that’s the look I wanted  anyways.

I decided  that once she started her workout I’d try not to distract her by talking, and to just let her work through her workout. I responded when she talked but didn’t start anything. I wanted her to feel like she was doing it alone, to the extent that was possible. I added some grain to the photos to make them kind of timeless and to more closely emulate film.

We were going to use another space, but, the chance came up to use the space in the Yoga studio she teaches at, Transcend Wellness and Yoga, so we took it!
I suspected Yoga practitioners are as concerned with exact position as the ballet dancers I’ve shot. It turns out I was pretty close to right on that. Diana told me after the shoot and seeing some of the photos that once she got past the imperfections in her form (which were invisible to me!) , she enjoyed the photos for how they brought her back to the things she was thinking and how she was breathing in each position. I felt like I had nailed what I wanted. I got real photos. Intense photos.

I did these photos digitally because I wanted to be sure I could deliver some photos and that her efforts weren’t in vain. I was also in a hurry, but I did do some film that’ll be back in a few weeks. We’ll see how they came out too!

Pretty sure this is a warrior pose.

Pretty sure this is a warrior pose.

Diana commented on this on her FB page " Dolphin Pose: Impromptu shoot and the end result was very raw. I had just finished teaching, and it forced me to just sit, get centered and be real with my yoga practice; without fear of judgement, even when I fell out of poses and literally crawled back to my mat. After a great discussion about perfection/imperfection, it was interesting to reflect back and notice that the images of the poses I felt the most awkward and vulnerable in, were the images that resonated the strongest. I think he captured the fragility of human emotion in learning to surrender." She said it better than I

Diana commented on this on her FB page ” Dolphin Pose: Impromptu shoot and the end result was very raw. I had just finished teaching, and it forced me to just sit, get centered and be real with my yoga practice; without fear of judgement, even when I fell out of poses and literally crawled back to my mat.
After a great discussion about perfection/imperfection, it was interesting to reflect back and notice that the images of the poses I felt the most awkward and vulnerable in, were the images that resonated the strongest. I think he captured the fragility of human emotion in learning to surrender.” She said it better than I

this was between some more complicated positions

this was between some more complicated positions

This is a very vulnerable pose, opening the throat shakra.

This is a very vulnerable pose, opening the throat shakra.

I loved the intention of the moves here. Her leg in the air is perpendicular to the ceiling. I like how it intersects with the shadow behind. Love her hand position.

I loved the intention of the moves here. Her leg in the air is perpendicular to the ceiling. I like how it intersects with the shadow behind. Love her hand position.

in total control, Diana assumed this reverse push up position and held it.

in total control, Diana assumed this reverse push up position and held it.

She was slow to come to this position and slow to release it. I imagined myself doing it and flopping out of it like a dead fish. She was so far from that, it's embarrassing to my male ego. LOL

She was slow to come to this position and slow to release it. I imagined myself doing it and flopping out of it like a dead fish. She was so far from that, it’s embarrassing to my male ego. LOL

final pose

this was near the end of her work out. It was fascinating to see her control and intent. I marveled at the control and thought about the hours of practice over the years that it took to be able to do this with grace and control.

It won’t surprise me to hear some (especially Diana!) say “this wasn’t right” or “that could have been straighter” but for me, what I saw was someone working hard to perfect their technique, knowing that she might never reach it from choices she’s made , but, accepting the benefits and being humble enough to keep pushing forward anyway. When she stumbled or fell out, she just went back to it until she got what she wanted.

Thank you Diana for sharing this with me, warts and all.  Especially the warts. It’s brave to show the unvarnished truth.

Snow in Delaware

I like the snow to look at, but hate dealing with it as far as getting to work and watching out for the other knuckleheads on the road. Today, we’re snowed in, so I went out to see what I could see. I like the ideas of things in snow. When it snows it’s quiet and you can imagine what other folks are doing. There is also the idea of standing up to all conditions, as they come.

I like threes and trees so this is perfect.

I like threes and trees so this is perfect.

I love to take photos of benches.

I love to take photos of benches.

Love this barn, it's on the road to my house

Love this barn, it’s on the road to my house

I've photographed this tree several times before, love the leading lines

I’ve photographed this tree several times before, love the leading lines

The things that seperate us also unite us

Some photos from a little road trip I did this weekend. I went over to Baltimore to take care of some stuff and then went to Ellicott City, MD to see what it was all about. It was relatively warm and there were lots of folks walking about. Not ideal for the kinds of photos I like to do, but I did find these photos and had fun hanging out with a friend.

Time marches on, taking some things as it goes

Time marches on, taking some things as it goes

I liked how the stones were islands, surrounded by islands of ice

I liked how the stones were islands, surrounded by islands of ice

I'm interested in how we arrange things to suit our needs. This empty vending machine seems to be waiting for spring

I’m interested in how we arrange things to suit our needs. This empty vending machine seems to be waiting for spring