Yoga Teacher Etiquette: Photographing Yoga Classes

Every time I see a photograph from a yoga teacher on instagram of students in Savasana I cringe a little bit inside. Let me set the scene; it’s time to move into savasana. I talk students into a state of stillness, invite them to drop everything and come to a place of total peace and ease. Then I let them stay here, soak it in, decompress from their day or their week - have this moment of quiet all to themselves before they have to pick up and go back to their day. A day when they can’t put themselves first; they have partners, jobs, children, pets and it’s not easy. So, IMAGINE when that student who struggles to find stillness, looks toward their teacher for guidance just to find me snapping pictures of them on my phone.

Am I saying that yoga teachers can’t take photos of their students, in savasana or otherwise? Of course not, we have to advertise ourselves to get the students in there to start with. But I don’t believe that picking up your phone in the middle of savasana to snap photos of your students is how you do it.

I have been photographed and been the photographer for retreats, trainings and workshops and I have seen a few things that I want to share that have shaped how I take photographs for advertising.

  1. Never take your own photos.

    Your job is to teach; be there, fully. From the moment you roll out your mat, to the moment you say goodbye to your last student. Ask a friend or partner to do it for you so you are not taking away from your students, even if you think they aren’t looking.

  2. Ask permission - DUH.

    And if possible, do it in a private way, like mentioning on your booking form that photos will be taken and inviting students to inform you privately if they aren’t comfortable with this. That way they aren’t forced to put their hand up and announce it to the whole world; super awkward.

  3. Don’t take photographs throughout the class.

    Decide on the content you need ahead of time and only get that. As soon as a photographer appears, the energy in the class will shift completely! Suddenly, no one cares about what the teacher is telling them to do and they are more worried about how they look in their new Lululemon bra. It is hugely distracting, so minimise the distraction as much as possible. As a guide, I would say that for an hour long class a photographer should be there two or three times for around 3/4 minutes at a time.

  4. Use discretion.

    If you need a photograph of you teaching savasana then make sure your photographers’ camera is silent. During class they should stay out of students line of sight as much as possible and not be interacting with them.

  5. Need a lot of content?

    Get some friends together, hire your favourite, well-lit studio space and set up for a photoshoot. I did this on a retreat in Italy last year with some students who volunteered to be photographed and that teacher has content for days now!

I hope this is helpful, and if you have any more tips or anything you’ve experienced yourself that has stuck with you; either good or bad I’d love to hear about it.

Happy snapping!