Last weekend I had the opportunity to work my first shift at Lake 288 with Big SUP yoga! One of the things I’m working on right now is how to take good SUP yoga photos for the students, so I thought I’d put together a list of SUP yoga photography tips.
SUP Yoga Photography Tips
Get an idea of everyone’s favorite pose and remember it along with their name. The sweetest sound to a person is the sound of their own name. While running through an intro about what it will be like on the water, throw in a few ice breakers and invite the students to introduce themselves, share their experience with yoga and SUP yoga, and say their favorite pose (of the day or of all time). Remember this. When you’re on the water, make sure you get a few good shots of every person in the class and the pose they said they liked the most.
- Work Variations.
Also capture poses that create a similar shape to the one each student said was their favorite. For example, if someone says they like wheel pose that may mean they have a strong and flexible back. Camel and Bow pose create a similar shape with the same muscles. A first-time SUPer may feel more comfortable going into a pose like Camel, because an inverted heart-opener like Wheel may make some people feel super vulnerable and uncomfortable if they have sunscreen-slippery hands and feet. The teacher will likely sequence these poses as a warm-up toward Wheel, so catch them when you can in case the student doesn’t go for full Wheel.
- The Best Camera Is the One You Have On You.
Fancy DSLRs are great tools for professional photography. Most people who go to a SUP yoga class are looking for a fun photo to share on Facebook or Instagram. An iPhone or GoPro can take a really great quality photo for this, and isn’t as heavy as a big DSLR. It’s much easier to paddle around and shoot with a lightweight camera. Try a GoPro mount on the nose of your board for a flow video (I totally want to do this).
- Be Tasteful.
Try to take photos from tasteful angles. Usually, a photo from the side of a pose creates the best shot. Shots from the front or the back can make everyone feel awkward, for super obvious reasons. This can be extra tricky when you’re shooting a stranger in a swimsuit. What is their comfort level? Is their swimsuit doing something weird? Don’t share that on the internet.
- Chase the Light.
It can be kind of hard to see what photos look like on your screen when you are out there in the bright sun. Trust your auto settings, and line up the shot with the light source as behind you as possible. Sometimes if the sun is directly overhead, there’s nothing you can do to eliminate harsh shadows. A little cloud coverage will work wonders.
- Fill the Frame.
Each photo should have one person as the focus, or two/three people who came as a group and would want to remember the experience together. Get the whole person in the frame – no more, no less. I find that with standing poses, I have to float way further away from the class in order to fill the frame, whereas with reclining poses I can be much closer. When selecting photos to share, make sure everyone looks good in the frame. If someone looks kind of weird in the background, skip it.
If you’re using an iPhone for SUP photos (I was), run them through VSCO for a quick edit (I didn’t but wish I had). VSCO is a free photo editing app that will clean up the colors really nicely with some of their contemporary photo filters. I used VSCO Lightroom film presets to edit these photos later, but for the class I just used the iPhone auto settings. Let me know if you have any good apps to batch edit iPhone photos quickly with.
My favorite thing about SUP yoga is doing yoga in this big, peaceful environment with water and tiny (harmless) lake bugs and the soft lake sounds like the wind in the leaves and the water lapping at your board. If you like both regular yoga and being on the water, SUP yoga brings both of these things together. It really works your sense of balance on the board, which is super great cross-training for surfing.
The most important rule is to have fun! Be encouraging, smile, cheer, and do whatever you need to to make sure the students all have a great time. I’ll be out there on Lake 288 at least once a month throughout the season, but there are classes every weekend. Come out and play with us at Big SUP Yoga 🙂