Viva Lewes: The Way We Work - Yoga Teachers of Lewes
This December I was asked by Viva Lewes to take portraits of local yoga teachers for their January issue. Katie, the editor of the magazine, suggested that we capture these portraits in a sacred place - the outdoors. I immediately jumped to the idea. What could be more sacred and beautiful than photographing women, who daily connect with their bodies and stretch their own limits, in the throne of nature. It sounded like something divine, and it truly was.
I chose Railway Lands, a local nature reserve, as I love that space so much. It has some serious pagan magic. I met the ladies atop a spiral mound and asked them to begin ours session by holding hands, closing their eyes, and listening to the wind. I wanted them to become more present and to connect to the beautiful, magical space around them, and within them. My heart sang in joy as I began to photograph what was a vision of female strength and divinity in front of me. The windswept hair, the calmness in their faces, the strength of their posture. I felt grateful to be able to witness, to capture and to share the power of their presence.
After I delivered these portraits, one of the women expressed how difficult she felt seeing how old she had become. It brought sadness to my heart. I wished that she would see herself the way I saw her. I hoped she'd see her ageless beauty, her powerful presence, the quiet strength in her smile, that look in her eyes that speaks of experience and wisdom. By no means were these women a picture of innocent youth. But that is never the only way to be beautiful. Their beauty is mature. Their beauty is divine. It transcends the inadequate standards of society. For it is the standards that fail. Not their bodies, not their beauty. Their beauty is there, and it takes your breath away.
When I photograph people I see so much beauty in them. And I hope that I can capture that and show them. But sometimes the inner critic is louder. The only thing I can do is to hope that in time that voice will grow more quiet and self-love will overtake.
I make a conscious choice to not retouch people's faces as I believe that’s what breeds insecurity in people. We are forced to learn about beauty from fashion magazines & entertainment industry, where 15 year old girls are made to look like 30 year old women, and 50 year old women are retouched to look 20. It creates these completely distorted images in our heads of how people at a certain age should look. Those standards are unattainable, but they should not even be what we aim for. I aim to capture the beauty of real women, and their natural state of being. Because those are the examples of beauty I wish I had grown up with. And because I want other girls to grow up surrounded by visions of women who possess beauty that is natural, wholesome and intertwined with strength of character, depth of wisdom, and presence of mind, body & spirit.
So here you go, the vision of female beauty.
As fitting for the start of a New Year, we asked these women:
'What is your New Year resolution?'
I share the answers below.