Environmental Portrait: Zoe

For my environmental portrait I will be working with one of my best friends, Zoe, who also happens to be  my yoga teacher. I will be shooting her in her different worlds: teaching at Yoga Vida, shooting a music video for her musical career, and enjoying downtime in her East Village apartment. Zoe is one of those spiritual beings who is always at peace in her surroundings and unfairly photogenic. Growing up between Westchester and New York with a father in the music industry forced her to adapt to to grown-up worlds early on. Instead of becoming jaded or harsh, she is immensely kind, humble, relaxed, and loving.

Zoe recieved her training at New York institution Jivamukti. A yoga phenomenon, Jiva is the studio one would find in movies. Robotically zen, it is its own type of yoga combining the asanas (physical poses of Ashtanga yoga (a set series of poses based on the teachings of Krishnamacharya Pattabhi Jois) with chanting and meditations by teachers at the front of the studio wearing headsets. Sharon Gannon, the co-founder of Jiva, is a friend of her fathers. After receiving her extensive training, Zoe linked up with student Michael Patton to begin teaching at Yoga Vida on 12th street and University Place at the age of 19. Wise beyond her years, Zoe is now teaching teacher training at the new branch of the studio opened last May on Broadway and Bond street.

In addition to teaching yoga, Zoe is also a recording artist with a strong pop-sounding voice.  She is shy about her career because of the humility of her yoga self, but I have been lucky enough to see several videos which blew my mind. They are dark, art-house inspired montages that beautifully complement her vocals and mysterious air. She is not a camera whore although she knows when to put on the performance face which is why the videos don’t show that many images of her directly on. She spends time in between teaching yoga in teh recording studio and shooting videos which are edited by her boyfriend Michael (not from Yoga Vida) a film producer from Maryland.

Residing in a two bedroom apartment in Stuyvesent-Town in the East Village with her friend Danielle, also a yoga teacher, Zoe is a homebody. At the end of the day she is no longer interested in parties or the “scene” she grew up around. Rather, she cooks beautiful meals and watches movies. A lot of our relationship takes place at her home. It is a safe spot, not only for her and me, but for all of her friends. Her door is unlocked and an open invite is always pressed. I have been instructed many, many a time to just come over and take a bath. When I am in pain, scared, sad, happy, confused, I find myself here as it oozes love and serenity from the madness of New York. And to think, she’s only 21.

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