Introducing my first book in cooperation with Hanna Birna…
The Icelandic, Naked Yoga Project
The project was an exploration of Icelandic nature, yoga, and the human form. The book features a selection of photographs taken over the project’s 18-month duration. This book was created to show the beauty of yoga exercises along with the beauty of the human body set in the beauty of Icelandic nature. Iceland—because it is cold, there is an obvious contrast. Naked—because it reflects the true form of yoga. Naked is without fashion, so it’s timeless. Naked and cold are a beautiful contrast and demonstrate both resilience and commitment.
Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
The idea grew on a sunny summer morning on the Glacier Lagoon at Jökulsarlon. This was a weekend road trip and only my second or third visit to the famous glacier lagoon. I was on a mission. I wanted to photograph the icebergs under the water. I couldn’t afford expensive under-water camera housing. I bought an insect tank, which I loaded with weights and a support for my camera. The lens was pushed hard against the side of the clear perspex tank, and the tank would sink to allow the camera to be fully underwater, although protected and buoyant. On this summer morning, the icebergs were about 10 metres from the shore. I needed to wade out with my camera, and for that, I had to remove my shoes and trousers.
The Tree and the Lake
I was wading in the ice lake, taking photographs, when the idea came to remove all my clothes. I took my camera back to the shore and mounted it on my tripod. With the help of my Canon 40D’s 10-second delay, I was able to wade to a good position and pose in time for the self-timer. I started doing yoga when I quit smoking. I needed something to fill the void, and yoga was a good choice. The question was, What sort of pose? I wanted something that would stand out in the lake, so I attempted a beginner tree pose (Vrksasana). Getting it right involved several attempts. Some pictures caught me falling sideways or with my hand flapping in the air. Finally, I got everything in the right place.
Where to buy?
Directly from the publisher.Buy Now
This book was created to show the simplicity of yoga positions along with the elegance of the naked human body. All the photos are set in some incredible Icelandic nature. We advertised in the local newspaper for models to take part in a photo project. We had hundreds of replies. Then we explained that they would be doing yoga naked outdoors in the cold. About a dozen people got back. Interestingly, there were an even number of males and females.
Water features in every photo. Water symbolises life. In Iceland, you can experience many different states of water in a single day. Also, I am obsessed with the story element of ‘water’ in a photograph. Most of the pictures involve a slightly slow shutter speed to capture the movement of a waterfall, ocean wave, or river.
Being naked is a symbol of purity and commitment, and it shows that you only need the space around you to practice yoga. I was really keen to have regular people with normal bodies rather than super-slim bodies of super models. I appear twice in the book. Both times, it was the rear view. It is fair to say the guys who were happy to be full-frontal nude were rather gifted—even in the cold.
Iceland was chosen to symbolize purity and raw nature, plus we all live there. The coldest shot was -7 degrees Celsius. We were fully sheltered from the wind. I found that the naked body was fine for about 20 seconds in these conditions. We had a routine. I would set my camera up on a tripod with the composition and focus already set. Hanna would usually shoot hand-held and would be more flexible with composition. After a short practice of the poses, it was time to get naked. We did everything within 20 seconds. I would take a range of exposures with slow and fast shutter speeds. Hanna would try a few compositions and a bit of Zoom. Sometimes my pictures were not so hot, or Hanna’s were not so hot, but because we worked together, we always got a result from every session.