Yoga, butt naked

March 25, 2014

New York, United States

By Shannon Stapleton

When I was assigned to photograph a naked yoga session my first thought was: how am I going to illustrate this in a way that people will actually be able to publish?

I had to take pictures of a room full of naked people without showing any frontal nudity, and I wanted to do the job in the most artistic way possible without allowing the images to become voyeuristic. 

When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find both the yoga students and the instructor were totally open to what I was doing. They didn’t seem to have any inhibitions about being photographed while naked – and while participating in a very strenuous yoga session at that.

It was a good-sized studio and there was space to move around relatively freely in the room, where the heat was turned up very high. The energy was palpable. Even though I wasn’t actually participating in the class, I felt as though I had had my own little workout once the hour-long session was over.


Avoiding getting shots of people’s genitalia and other un-publishable angles was the most challenging part, but I found that, by keeping a careful eye on the viewfinder, it was possible.

After the shoot was over, I was confident that I had a nice set of images which portrayed the class in an elegant way and defined the positive, spiritual energy that emanated through the room. Everyone was clearly very comfortable with their nudity and being photographed didn’t deter them as they focused on the class.

Following the session, I had the class sign a model release form that would give us the right to use the photographs for our Reuters newswire service. Everyone signed with no hesitation.

The edit was a difficult one – more difficult than actually shooting the pictures – and I spent several hours going through it with my manager Adrees Latif. As careful as I had been during the session to be aware of everything in the background, it proved hard to stop un-publishable items finding their way into the frames.

After some time though, we were able to come up with a set of images that met our guidelines and we put out a series of images that I was very proud to see with my byline.

During the process, someone asked me if I got naked as well. I politely said that I had declined.


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Posted by SBEP | Report as abusive

Good way to express yourself with the peace of mind and no hesitation. without thinking about what you are wearing or what not only one concentration in God. Trying to know about yourself. Good photographs expressed greatly. Thanks Shannon

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive