This is part 2 of our traveling yoga teacher interview series. Each Wednesday we release a new interview of a different traveling yoga teacher. Expect to learn their secrets for success and to gain an understanding of what it’s really like to be a nomadic yoga teacher. If you know someone who would be a good interview candidate – email us at [email protected].
Today you will hear from Tony Felgueiras from TonyFPhotography.com. Tony is a traveling yoga photographer and has his 200hr RYT. Tony saw tremendous personal growth through yoga and decided to pursue a career in the field. Today Tony teaches yoga at Studio Blue in Toronto, Fitness classes in Toronto, and travels to yoga festivals like Wanderlust and Hanuman Festival to document the experience through photos. He is also the lead photographer for Yoga Journal LIVE.
It was crazy to interview Tony because we both have so much in common. From how Tony manages his life on the road, to his personal yoga journey, and even his breakfast choice!
If you have additional questions for Tony, please leave them in the comments and he will answer them!
What was your life like before traveling the world as a Yoga Photographer?
My career straight out of high school began as a video producer, director, videographer, and editor for an online Men’s Lifestyle website. I produced and created a variety of videos on lifestyle topics from food, drinks, music, celebrity, comedy and more. I was heavily involved in the media and entertainment world, interviewing celebrities, covering red carpets, shooting concerts, and all kind of exciting adventures.
- 1 It hasn’t been an easy transition over the last few years, but it’s certainly been worth it!
- 3 When you know WHY, when you understand the intention behind what you’re doing, your personal style will organically develop from there.
- 4 Another question for Tony? Leave it in the comment section below…
It hasn’t been an easy transition over the last few years, but it’s certainly been worth it!
Eventually I started getting heavily involved in creating fitness content, which led me to yoga. One column I wrote for the site was a weekly blog documenting my first 30-Day Yoga Challenge, which kick started my path down this world of yoga. I saw incredible change not just in my physical self, but mentally as well. I stuck with my practice and then next thing I know, I’m heavily involved in my local yoga community, creating videos and photos for yogis and friends at my local studio. After a couple years practicing yoga frequently, I applied to a teacher training to deepen my practice. At the same time my Teacher Training began, my job at the website ended and I took this opportunity to launch my business as a freelancer. It hasn’t been an easy transition over the last few years, but it’s certainly been worth it!
What’s one thing you never leave the house without?
A fully charged phone, haha. I have all my class playlists on it, and I enjoy staying connected to my online communities and friends. Also, I have a pocket point and shoot camera (a Sony RX100) which I take everywhere so that I never miss an opportunity to capture a potential shot.
What does your typical day look like? Any particular positive routines?
My days vary depending on the month or time of year since I travel frequently. When I’m in my hometown I usually wake up, eat breakfast (5 eggs with spinach, mushrooms, onion) with oatmeal and healthy shake. I make a post on social media, then spend a couple hours doing work, whether editing photos for clients or replying to emails, planning shoots, etc. I’ll then do a home workout, something like P90X, or Insanity (I love hardcore exercise training!) then eat, get more work done for a few hours, and teach any afternoon or evening classes depending which day of the week it is.
There’s an interesting conception that photographers have an exciting life that they’re always out shooting and having fun, but a HUGE part of the business (especially as a solo freelancer) is a lot of boring computer work, administration, editing images, and very non-glamorous tasks that make the business train run onward. The great thing about it, though, is that I get to set my own hours, which usually leads to me staying up late into the night, where I find myself most productive.
What is a purchase under $100 that has had a huge impact on you?
My Mophie iPhone case, haha. Yes, I’m very attached to my phone. I use my phone frequently, so battery life is sometimes an issue. Having a case that gives me extra juice is incredibly helpful, especially when I need to rely on my phone to contact clients, look up locations, or do work while on the go.
How do you support your lifestyle? Does yoga photography pay the bills?
Yoga photography pays part of the bills, while teaching yoga, and fitness pays the majority. Since festivals and yoga events are seasonal and not major sources of income, having a stable teaching schedule allows me the opportunity to earn money but have a flexible enough schedule to travel often without being limited to only two weeks “off” which a typical 9-5 job offers.
As a yoga photographer, it’s also important that I am part of a yoga community and this is why I feel I am so passionate about what I do and have carved a sort of niche market with my work. I practice yoga, I teach yoga, I photograph and film yoga, and LIVE yoga!
What tips can you share with those interesting in following a similar path?
Certainly. Always ask yourself WHY you are doing what you’re doing. Are you passionate about yoga? Are you passionate about connecting with people? Do you love documenting the human form? Are you doing it to make money? Are you doing it to seize travel opportunity? — When you know WHY, when you understand the intention behind what you’re doing, your personal style will organically develop from there.
When you know WHY, when you understand the intention behind what you’re doing, your personal style will organically develop from there.
If you’re going to photograph yoga, you better be practicing or teaching yoga as well, because alignment is important, but also working with yogis and cuing/directing using yogic terms can make a big difference between a good shoot and a great shoot.
Also, have FUN and don’t take it too seriously. Everyone’s individual yoga practice will look different, so celebrate that unique person in front of you and do your best to capture their authentic self in your images. Get to know who they are so that you can aim to capture that in the photographs.
Ok, let’s get heavy for a minute… what’s your favorite yoga related festival?
This one’s tough because each festival is special in it’s own way; it’s like asking a parent who their favourite child is! Haha.
- Hanuman Festival in Boulder, CO is special because it’s intimate, mostly outside, and has a warm and beautiful community feel.
- Wanderlust is always great because it’s vibrant, full of variety, and an abundance of love and joy can be felt in the air.
- Yoga Journal Live is wonderful because the experience in each of the cities offers something different, whether a beach atmosphere in Florida or a beautiful mountain landscape in Estes Park, CO, each Yoga Journal Live is a special experience full of knowledge and connection.
On a scale of 1-10, how weird are you?
I think most people would consider me quite “normal.” Though I do have high energy and a tolerance for staying up super late to get work done. So, I think I’d consider myself more eccentric and outgoing rather than weird.
Being a traveling photographer is not all sunshine and butterflies – can you tell me about a time when you were struggling with the lifestyle?
The hardest part about traveling so much is maintaining a personal practice and proper nutrition. I love a good routine when I’m home, meal prepping, working out, practicing and teaching yoga, etc. But, when I’m shooting an event the hours are long and I’m up late into the night editing photos for the organizers to use the following day for social media and marketing. So, it throws my whole training and nutrition routine for a loop.
After 3+ days photographing others doing yoga, the first thing I need most when I return from a trip is a personal yoga practice to get my body feeling it’s best again. Especially with long flights/travel. Airline delays and long travel times can sometimes be tough, but generally I don’t mind airports.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I’d like to take my business more commercial and do more corporate and branding related photography for fitness and yoga brands. To be able to live solely off of a photography income shooting what I love is the dream! Maybe one day even shoot a cover for Yoga Journal Magazine. I look up to photographers like Robert Sturman who can make a living off of shooting yoga as an art form, or Jasper Johal who creates stunning commercial work and ads.
Connect with Tony
Media professional turned yoga teacher and fitness junkie, Tony Felgueiras merges his talents in photography and video with his passion for yoga to create artful images of yogis, sharing their practice, story, as well as capturing expression, connection, and inspiration at yoga events. His experience and understanding as a yoga teacher makes photographing yoga a distinctive, collaborative experience. Tony captures his subject’s authentic personality and story through a playful, naturalistic, collaborative and curious approach to photography.