Blog from GingerSnapsScotland. 

Yoga, lines & cross disciplinary influence

My fascination with yoga isn't new. It even featured in my exhibition project. The discipline, the strength, the's incredibly inspiring to witness. It's those sorts of ideas and emotions that I love to document. 

What I hadn't expected when I went along to photograph Kyle Gray and his teaching sessions at the Om Yoga show in Glasgow, was how much I'd learn about my own discipline by observing his, and that of all the practitioners in the SECC that day. 

handstand class by Kyle Gray // photograph by Calum McMillan 

I am constantly trying to evolve my own practice. The main issue being that I am a very reactive shooter. I learned by taking photos of bands. I didn't have time to compose shots or manipulate light or watch my lines. I had to find my settings, wait for the moments and hit the shutter button. 

As a result, outside of a gig environment, I end up shooting the same. Quickly. Instinctively. I don't often stop to think. To compose. To consider what I can manipulate to tell the story I want to tell with my camera. 

handstand class by Kyle Gray // photograph by Calum McMillan 

So when it came to photographing Kyle, I suddenly realised I had time. Yoga is a gradual process. It's deliberate. I now had the time to attempt to apply that to my photography, I remained reactionary but I was able to slow down enough to think about how best to react. 

What I learned when shooting this that I still need to improve on my lines. Letting lines define my photographs or lead observes into subjects is an issue of mine. The rule of thirds is a lost concept when you're in a photo pit at a show. 

handstand class by Kyle Gray // photograph by Calum McMillan

As the day went on I became more and more aware that I wasn't fully at peace with my gear when I wasn't forced to move at speed. But, as I realised this I began to react to it. I started to really take time when moving my body (a happy stylistic side effect of shooting on only prime lenses) and composing my shots. 

It was obvious that the calming nature of the yoga I was observing and the gentle, but deliberate, nature of the practice was rubbing off on how I was taking photos. Personally, I think that is reflected in the quality of the photographs taken later in the day than at the begining. 

handstand class by Kyle Gray // photograph by Calum McMillan

My exhibition project, A Series of Awkward Poses, dealt with the idea of creativity across a variety of disciplines. I hoped it would let creatives draw influence from each other in how they keep inspired and drive themselves forward. 

What I've now realised, is that the other value of observing other disciplines is how they can influence your own. In producing the black and white edits for this piece I found myself totally reassessing the photos from the day, making decisions on how I'll positively change how I shoot in future to conquer my limitations and enhance my strengths. 

Especially when it comes to those damn lines when I'm using my wide angle. I am currently pretty shocking with that type of shot. 

portrait of Kyle Gray // photograph by Calum McMillan 

If you're a creative person, I'd encourage you to talk to other creatives you know. Watch each other, pick each other's brains. I bet you'll learn something about them you can apply to yourself and your own discipline, I am pretty amazed how much I learned about my own photography from watching Kyle teach. 

A movement, a mindset, maybe a cool haircut...who knows?

As I understand yoga is a constant quest to understand your own body and mind more. It's a pretty fitting analogy for your journey into your own creativity. 

That might not be as insightful as I hoped, but it sounds like it had the potential to be devastatingly so. So that'll do me. 

portrait of Kyle Gray // photograph by Calum McMillan