In September of 2017 after my son completed his treatment for Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia, I was going through a huge transition. After nearly 8 months of living my life as a Cancer Parent and all the stresses that come with it, I noticed that my struggle with being so limited as an artist, stalled in the growth of my business, and the loneliness of not being able to connect with friends, was taking it's toll on me.
I needed something to pull me out of my stagnant existence and essentially re-build the life that I had put on hold to be a full-time single dad, finish my bachelors, become a yoga teacher and a massage therapist, and then see my son through his treatment. Instagram gave me an opportunity.
After seeing a friend's post about having done her first nude photo shoot since she started modeling almost a decade ago. She spoke about the freedom of being vulnerable and how this shoot helped her overcome some body image struggles that she had dealt with for years. It reminded me of the first time I ever posed nude, Asher was about 3 months away from coming into this world and his mom and I needed money, so I was doing everything I could to keep us afloat. I responded to an add on Craigslist in Nashville and spoke with the photographer and a week later I was naked in a photography studio. That experience was more that of a necessity than an opportunity to overcome something in my life. But looking back, I could now see how incredibly freeing that was for me. Fast forward to September of 2017.
I got the name of the photographer from my Instagram friend. Mary Fehr, an incredible photographer in Birmingham, and asked her if she would want to do a nude yoga shoot with me and she jumped at the chance. At this point, "A Yoga Body," wasn't even a passing idea in my head. It was another month before the first seeds of an idea began to form in my mind. After telling a few friends about my excitement to do this shoot, a few of them spoke about having wanted to do it for themselves but they never found a time when they were happy with the shape their body was in. It was always, "After I lose 10 pounds." "After I get back into the gym." "But I have all this grey hair, and these wrinkles, and this cellulite." So many excuses that prevented them from doing something that they knew would free them of those excuses.
Then I had a few friends on the other end of that, who thought that what I was doing was great and asked if they could come shoot with me and just be involved in some way. This was where "A Yoga Body" was born. I thought about all those friends who desired to be free, I thought about all those friends who asked if they could come with me to the shoot and get some naked yoga photos. I thought...if this many people are interested in doing it either as a fun experience or as a form of therapy, could I get enough people to do it to fill a coffee table book full of Artistic Nude Yoga Photos?
My friend, teacher, and all around awesome person that I know, Melissa Scott, had written and published a book a few months earlier called "White Girl In Yoga Pants." In this book she spoke a lot on the subject of Body Image, the importance of Self-Love, and the impossible standard that society puts on people especially in the yoga world. Where the Insta-yogis, do the handstands, twist their bodies into pretzels, participate in the pose challenges, and juice cleanses. I thought, "What would it be like to have a Book of Art Photography focused on Nude Yoga, where
the participants are real people of all shapes, sizes, colors, sexes, ages, orientations, religions, with the most incredible range of beginner yogis to advanced practitioners, who all told their stories of their struggles with their own body image, and with loving themselves, and with the expectations that society puts on us?"
In November of 2017, I arrived at the studio of a well known and respected Birmingham Photographer, Chuck St. John. I arrived with Mary Fehr, my friend Jason OBrien and his Co-Director of "My Body Is Not Obscene," Faith Bruner. You can go to the A Yoga Body - Inspiration Gallery to see the product of that shoot. You will also be able to see some video of the shoot in the forthcoming Documentary "My Body Is Not Obscene." The release date has not been announced yet, but I guarantee I will let you know.
Once I got the images back, I posted a selection of them on my Instagram Page and told the same story as I just told you and I invited people to participate. By the following morning I had nearly 20 people signed up to be part of this incredible project. It has taken until June of 2018 to finally start photography on the book but it has started. Mary Fehr hopes to be able to find time to come shoot some of this book with me but her career has just skyrocketed. She is now one of the most in demand photographers in Birmingham. I'm actually really really glad she is as in demand as she is because, that forced me to finally listen to the very many friends who believe in my skill and talent as a photographer, and told me to just shoot the book myself.
If you go to A Yoga Body - Test Shoot you will see the product of a wonderful and generous friend who agreed to give me her time and her body to prove to me that I have the skill to take on a project of this magnitude. I am very thankful to this friend and the many others who see the incredible potential of this project to help those struggling with how they judge their bodies, and struggling with loving who they are, as they are.
I have gotten a hefty amount of backlash from this project and it has greatly effected me on a personal level in regards to my reputation and some business relationships. But if there is one thing that I know for sure, when people start attacking you for the good things you do, and attempt to harm your reputation when you have started to obtain a small level of recognition, then you must be on the right track. I'm going to push through and see this project to the end because the benefits that this book can bring to the lives of other human beings, incredibly outweighs the inconveniences and set backs that jealousy and misunderstanding can bring.
All the shoot will take place at Forma Arts + Wellness in Downtown Birmingham. We completed the first shoot with the first 5 people which also included a set of AcroYoga Photos on June 16. I will be offering one shoot a month until I have enough participants to tell the stories that need to be told. The next shoot will be July 14th and August 11th. Once the July shoot is complete I will set the date for September.
If you have a story of your journey with Body Image, if you've struggled with it and come out on the other end, or even if you go through seasons and cycles of struggle and freedom, if you want to tell your story and be part of this project, please email me at AYogaBody@flyservices.org.
I need bodies of all shapes, sizes, colors, sexes, orientations, ages, religions, and relationship status. I need married people, long-term unmarried people, newly married people, single parents, single non-parents, hippy types, corporate types, political types, stay at home types. I need happy stories and sad ones, I want to have stories of humor, and of anger, acceptance and loss, and I want stories of transition, and love of self, and love of your partner. I want this book to connect to everyone, even if it's just one yoga pose, or one person's story that the reader can see themselves in, out of the 30+ people and 30+ stories that will make up this book.
I'm going to tell my story, and I'm going to share my body, and I want more than anything for you, in whatever state you are in on your journey of body positivity, to join me and share your Yoga Body and your Journey with whoever opens this book.
The Participants of this Project will receive compensation for their time and participation.
Please Read the Differed Compensation Package below.
Compensation will be distributed after the release of the book. No compensation of any kind will be offered prior to the release of the book.
A Deal Memo will be available for you to sign at the time of your scheduled shoot.
- A signed copy of the finished book.
- One High Resolution Print in a Matte Frame from their Set.
- 1% of the profit from the first 200 Books sold.
- 10% of the sales of each Print Sold that includes their image for 2 years after the release of the book. (Group Prints will divide this among all participants included on the Print)