The atmosphere at Be Love Yoga Studio was earthy. The walls were brick and wooden. It smelled of incense.
Lots of people older than me stood around talking and drinking wine out of plastic cups. Someone rung a singing bowl, and everyone turned their attention towards Western Doughty as he began talking.
Doughty was at the studio showing one of his recent photography projects, Anga-Limb. (The word anga translates to limb.) The photos hung on two walls and varied in size. Doughty got his idea after being upset by the oversexualization of yoga, often times in pornography.
He postulated that by cropping to tight slices of the overall poses he could emphasize the artistic form of yoga without sexualizing the models’ bodies.
The photographs were all monochromatic on a white background giving the models a platinum look. He used strong lighting and contrast to accentuate the topography of the models’ bodies.The pictures rarely had more than a few body parts in them and never any faces causing the focus of the scenes to be on the posing of the models rather than their physical appearance. Very little editing was done because Doughty thought it was important to accurately depict the models. Freckles, uneven complexions, sometimes even goosebumps can be seen in the photos.
One of the more entertaining aspects of the showing was Doughty’s liberal use of orientation. The “incomplete” nature of the cropped photos made it difficult to immediately understand which direction was actually down in any of the photos. Because of this he would have multiples of the same photo throughout the studio all in different orientations. There were even two of the same picture right next to each other, one just flipped upside down. It was surprisingly hard to notice and made it seem as though there were many more photos than there actually were.
Overall I believe Doughty succeeded in his quest to depict yoga as beautiful without being automatically sexual. The intense crops force the viewer to focus on the relationship between muscles and body positioning in yoga, the subtle features of accurately depicted skin and the perfect cooperation involved in partner yoga.
The photos look a bit dry due to their unedited nature; however I think this limits the distraction that might have been caused by more liberal manipulation of the pictures and thus does not detract from the experience.
More information of Doughty and photographs can be found at www.westerndoughty.com.