Since I started teaching yoga, almost a year ago now, it’s been a steep learning curve. Not only was I a newly qualified yoga teacher, but I was also setting up my own business from scratch at the same time.
When you’re a teacher trainee it feels like tempting fate to assume you’re going to pass by getting a website and business plan all ready in advance. However, when I did pass, it was a case of ‘Oh – right, and what do I do now?’
The answer seemed to be take a look around me and learn from the wisdom of others, plus enlist the help of some talented friends. Both of which helped as I gradually put together a website, facebook page and instagram account. My husband helped me to set up my accounts – or rather, being an Excel spreadsheet geek – he willingly did it for me.
The trouble with having social media accounts is that you have to post things on them.
Some yoga teachers seem to either live with professional photographers in their closets, or have some kind of incredible self-timing selfie apps. My solution is to precariously prop my phone up, put on the 10 second self-timing photo mode, and then rush headlong into my pose. This solution often results in pictures of a) quite a bad pose or b)me flailing about to get into the pose.
Sometimes, when there’s another member of my family handy, I get them to take the picture, which involves me staying in quite tricky poses for much longer than I would usually, while yelling, ‘Now – not when you’ve finished your game!’ Not very yogic.
Luckily, I didn’t have to use any of these pictures for actual proper marketing, as I had some photos that one of my aforementioned talented friends had taken of me a couple of years before, and these have been invaluable as a source of professional images. However, it had got to the point where I’d used them all multiple times, and I also felt it was time to have up -to-date pictures, as well as some of me actually teaching a class.
Organising a Photo shoot
I’m a person who believes in things happening for a reason. They probably don’t, but I find it helps me to think like this, and absolves me of blame when things go wrong.
Thus, I happened to bump into one of my former yoga training colleagues, who had a sister who took photos and she suggested I ask her to take some yoga photos for me. ‘Sure’, I said, ‘when can she do them?’ May. This was in December.
I decided that May would be fine.
And, as it turns out, it was. By the time those months had elapsed, I had a clearer idea of what I needed from a yoga photo shoot. Plus, I had a core body of students who I could ask to come and be my models, as well as the fact that the weather was blooming marvellous and the light was wonderful.
Being wary of shots that looked too posed, I decided to teach a normal lesson and let the photographer roam around and take whatever shots arose organically. Then at the end of the lesson, she took some shots of me in various poses and then a couple of the piles of yoga equipment that I use as an Iyengar yoga teacher.
This approach meant that the whole day was pretty stress-free, and the volunteer students got a proper class for free, rather than an unsatisfying morning of doing poses here and there.
However, there were a couple of pointers that I will remember for next time:
Ask the students to smile! My dearest students were concentrating so yogically on their poses that they forgot to smile.
Ask to see a couple of photos during the session. I think professional photographers would get annoyed if you asked to see every single shot, but it’s only when looking at the frame that you realise perhaps it might be worth taking a particular shot again, or moving a bit of furniture out of the way.
Be really clear about what you want from the photo shoot. E.g. photos for your website, or for particular workshops, social media etc. That way you will be able to get better value for money. I did actually do this, which was helpful, but could have added in a couple more specific shots I wanted.
I’m very happy with the resulting photos. As well as being able to update the images on my website and other social media, I now have a lovely record of my yoga teaching that I can keep to show my grandchildren.
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