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Podcast Interview: Ulrike Reinhold

Ulrike Reinhold is a yoga photographer based in Bali, Indonesia. Born in Austria, found yoga in Canada, and now has her own business in Ubud! Ulrike is an incredible person with a lovely outlook on life and I loved chatting to her about how she found yoga and made her passion her business…

How is Bali now? It must be so quiet? It reminds me of when Mt Agung erupted in 2017…

Yeah, we recovered quite quickly after the eruption of Agung and you’re totally right. It was so quiet. And I remember for the remainder of 2017, it was quite a different feel to the place [but by] January, people would come and travel. Hopefully, we can recover as much as quickly as possible after COVID. Lots of teachers have taken their business online and yoga studios as well

You’re a yoga photographer living in Bali, it doesn’t get much more idyllic than that! How did yoga enter your life?

In 2003, I went travelling to Indonesia and met my future husband (he’s Canadian) and that’s when I decided to go to Canada. And Canada can be so cold, but I had no idea how cold it can get!

I’m an outdoor person and I love to run and I love to ride my bicycle. And when it got a little bit chilly, I couldn’t ride my bicycle anymore. Then a friend of mine said that she has signed up to yoga and I should join her. I had no idea and at this point, my English was not that great. And I definitely didn’t know expressions, like, hamstrings or quadriceps or anatomy expressions.

So I put down my mat in the front, right in front of the teacher and just mirrored what he was doing. And it made me feel great. And that was actually what he mentioned at the very beginning. He said, the only goal you guys should have or could have, is to feel better after the class than you did before. And then I got really addicted to yoga, in a heartbeat.

What else has yoga taught you?

I started to practice five days a week and was just dedicated to that practice for the longest time. My focus was on the asana and to have a deeper understanding of my body. What is going on? Alignment, gaining knowledge and language. So I learned English with yoga or yoga with English.

[In yoga] Even people who speak German, as I do sometimes. Can’t come up with the right expression and then as following the English expression, just because they come more easily when it comes to yoga it’s English is basically. Yoga is my language now.

So after you found yoga, you lived in Canada for a bit, and then you moved to Bali…

We lived in Canada for five years and I did a lot of photography there. Then the yoga studio approached me and asked me if I could take some pictures of the yoga teachers. And I was like, yeah, I would love that! And that’s how it started. It was amazing. There was an abundance of shapes I got to capture. It was early days, way before Instagram started and I didn’t really know where it would take me, but I just loved doing it. At this point. I was fully doing weddings and maternity photography, but I realised that actually my passion is, is yoga because that’s where I’ve felt the most connection.

So you moved to Bali – what happened next?

We moved to Bali and I had a baby at this point when we moved here. And if I had time, I would basically just practice, but not take that many pictures. And then two years later, things shifted. My back then-husband and I were separated and I needed to start thinking about options, how to support me and one thing I could come up with was doing what I love most, which is photography

What I really appreciate is that I get to work with people who I have a real connection with because we have the same love for yoga. So that’s definitely something I share. And in the meantime, I wouldn’t want to do weddings anymore because I’m divorced [laughs].

When I met you I was doing my yoga teacher training and I booked in a session with you as I wanted to have some special memories from my time in Bali. I love that you have the photography knowledge as well as the yoga knowledge (from doing your training yourself).

I became a yoga teacher in 2007, like I never really taught, but it really helps me to look out for the right alignment and those kinds of details.

There is no way of formula other than me really being curious about every single person I work with and getting a feel for everybody because. Some people are really flexible in the upper body, some people have very, very flexible hamstrings. So for me to, to get a feel for the person working with is the first big, important detail.

What can people expect when doing a photoshoot with you?

It’s always good for me to get an understanding of what they actually need because that way it allows me to approach a session in a different way. For example, if somebody has just done a yoga teacher training in Bali and is feeling, really beautiful and radiant flexible, we might want to go to the rice fields…

But if that person is planning on running a business in a city, let’s say New York City, or somewhere in Europe where there are no palm trees, it makes very little sense to include those pictures on the website. You want to have a relationship between the pictures and the purpose. Let’s go somewhere that we can get a bit of a feel that could be found somewhere in the Western world.

You live in Ubud, the vegan and yogi capital of Indonesia – what’s your favourite part of living there?

It attracts those that are like-minded. We have great food, yoga studios, restaurants, really good coffee, dairy-free ice cream… I feel so blessed…

If you want to go and just like have a mental and physical, so detox, Ubud is definitely the space.

And what’s your favourite part of a photoshoot with a yogi?

Photography is not just a location but a true, authentic connection. You’re not just capturing a photo, you’re capturing a personality and you’re capturing someone’s whole self. And that’s why I don’t want to work with fashion and models. I just want to work with real people.

Where’s your favourite place to shoot in Bali?

The ocean. I love the ocean… let’s call it the beach because I don’t go on a boat and I’m not like in the ocean, but you know, I come from a landlocked country, I come from Austria so I have big respect [for it]. I’m not a surfer or a diver or anything. The ocean is a powerful place and now I try to go to the ocean about twice a week.

While there’s no such thing as the perfect yoga pose or photo, what’s the best way to capture that perfect yoga image?

As much as we are all attracted to really advanced poses, like a really advanced Dancers Pose or a half-moon bind is gorgeous, or any heart-opening pose or anything like that is it’s really beautiful to look at. But just because you’re not there doesn’t mean you don’t, you won’t go home with beautiful pictures and to be perfectly honest with you, I really need to tone it down.

But often even with the advanced people for different reasons, first of all, if I look at somebody’s account or yoga teachers website, and I’m about to decide if I’m going to sign up for their class or retreat… To me, it’s, it’s, it’s a given that person is it’s advanced, you know, like most likely that person has a lot to offer and most likely, also has a lot to offer in terms of assets. So it doesn’t have to be a show-off approach and those yoga teachers [should] be able to show up as they are and there, they allow me to really capture their essence and authentic self in front of the camera.

Oftentimes the most beautiful pictures are the ones where the intention is there and you can feel it. And that’s why I love to have that connection.

Find out more about Ulrike and her services at urphotography.net