Yoga refers to the union of ones soul with the universal consciousness. Yoga gives immense strength by making the Yogi’s lead a life in a very soulful way. Considering International Yoga Day is just around the corner, the Team at PhotoConcierge decided to feature some of the Yogi’s who have not just led a very purposeful life but are also photographers and are stunning at it! We are humbled to feature Robert Sturman, a Yogi and a photographer whose pursuits as an artist is larger than life itself! Stay inspired and follow us closely the entire month for we are celebrating International Yoga Day the whole of June!
PhotoCredits: Robert Sturman
Hello Robert. Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello! My name is Robert Sturman and I am from Los Angeles California. I am an artist telling our story of longing to be our greatest selves. I use a camera to do this all over the world, focusing on the expressive, poetic language of yoga.
You specialise in Yoga Photography – which is photographing other people who do yoga. How did this happen?
I grew up in Los Angeles and yoga was something that was part of life there, long before a lot of places in the West. It wasn’t until 2000, though, that I began to take it more seriously. I realised that it could be a valuable tool for me as an artist – to learn how to sit still in the fire of existence instead of trying to run from it. Some of my heroes in the history of art lived lives of self-destruction, and I had an opportunity to rewrite that story – to create a life focused on joy rather than desperation. Yoga is a valuable foundation for me to live the life I want to live. With that being said, I looked around and noticed that the expressive nature of the postures held so much humanity in them – it became effortless and natural to integrate yoga into my work.
What is Yoga according to you and how is it seen in the west? Do you see more people turning to Yogic lifestyle?
There is something immensely unique about the practice of yoga. It has the incredible ability to clear us out, reboot us, get rid of many internal blocks that are in the way of our lives. It quiets the mind, relaxes us and it strengthen the body and gets us in great shape. Those are a lot of benefits all wrapped up into one practice and I think a lot of people are catching on to this ‘feel good’ lifestyle that is so accessible to just about everyone these days.
PhotoCredits: Robert Sturman
Can you explain the difference you see in people who are into Yoga and those who are not into it?
Ultimately, beyond all those postures, there really is one aspect of yoga that I am concerned with – and that is whether a person is kind or not. I do think that there is a level of mindfulness that occurs when one practices and is around mindful people. But, like anything, all types of people make up everything.
However, one of the things that I do is I photograph yoga in prison on a regular basis. The first time I went into prison, I sat down with the warden and we spoke, and one of the things she said that I will always remember, because it was so simple and so profound: “I’ve noticed that the guys who do yoga make better choices.” End of story.
How has yoga changed you as a person and as a better photographer?
Yoga taught me how to be still. As a photographer, yoga has helped me become more balanced. There is a yoga of seeing, or photography, that I like to consider while I am working. Seeing as an artist is essential. Slowing down and enjoying what I am seeing. I do not subscribe to the concept that if I click the shutter a hundred times, I will most likely get a great shot. I prefer to be much more precise and give myself permission to stop, breathe, see, enjoy, press the shutter and then move on. Moving on in the knowingness that I experienced that moment and I was fully immersed and naturally captured what I was seeing. This way of shooting feels right to me.
PhotoCredits: Robert Sturman
How do you go about shooting Yoga poses?
I shoot yoga poses as if I am drawing the figure. I look for an angle that holds the most expression. I consider whether I can see the face, space between the limbs, integrating the environment we are in.
How do you choose the location to do such shoots? There is always this conflict that the background might take away the applause from the very subject itself.
If I had to describe a definition of yoga photography, I might say something like this: You were going to take a picture of the Roman Colosseum anyways. Yoga has the magical touch of making a composition come alive. We have seen the world interpreted thousands of times – but when an asana is in the composition, something sacred and new happens. In the name of yoga, there is nowhere I cannot go — from yogis in Kenya, Italy, Thailand, Israel, Cuba, to name but a few. From United States prisons to orphanages in Africa and the streets of Palestine, I work with all walks of life, embodying yoga poses with equanimity and grace. So many people, so many stories: breast cancer survivors, Maasai Warriors, Hasidic Jews, police officers, soldiers and inmates serving life sentences, each one a unique expression of humanity. For me, making art is about much more than a pretty picture. My responsibility as an artist is to capture the intrinsic beauty and irreducible value of every subject, to awaken compassion and to use art to inspire humanity to move forward, reaching towards our greatest potential.
What challenges you face in this genre of photography?
The challenge is a great one. There are so many image makers in the world today, that the photographer is required to dig so deep into their creativity and master our craft so that it becomes very clear that you are a professional. This is an inspiring challenge.
Tips on yoga photography
Enjoy what you are seeing and let it shine through your lens. I do offer a workshop that can be streamed: Robertsturmanstudio
Your advise to common people and photographers on yoga and yoga photography respectively, considering International Yoga day is coming up?
I would advise any photographer to practice yoga. If you fall in love with it, then shoot it. But, the practice will help you be a healthier human being and a better photographer. I assure you of this.