Hi everyone! Happy Thursday.
Lately I’ve been stumbling across a lot of amazing projects that are helping increase the general public’s awareness of acupuncture (from the acupuncture kids’ book of last post, to the amazing photos in this post, and more to come).
I absolutely love the idea of acupuncturists stepping outside their “usual” comfort zone of clinic to embrace and commit to projects that help showcase acupuncture in a positive way for everyone to see.
Naturally this is something I’m thrilled to support, because every time people witness acupuncture in a new and positive light, the public awareness of acupuncture widens and the general perception of acupuncture improves. That’s a win for acupuncturists everywhere.
Today I want to share an amazing project with you that helps showcase acupuncture as the creative masterpiece that it is.
We all know that acupuncture (and medicine in general) is both a science and an art. Everything from diagnosis to point selection to needling involves both extensive knowledge (the science) and individual interpretation of that knowledge as it’s applied to each unique patient (the art).
The Acupuncture Photography Project, founded by acupuncturist Emily Andrews and photographer Autumn Stankay, brings that science and creativity together. Their goal is to emphasize that acupuncture is beautiful, healing, and relaxing (contrary to the usual concept of needles), and to provide accurate photos of our medicine. The more photos out there that showcase acupuncture in a positive, professional light, the better for our profession as a whole.
Today Autumn and Emily share:
- What inspired them to start The Acupuncture Photography Project
- What they hope the general public will experience through their photos
- Their creative process
Can you tell us a little about yourselves?
Emily: I’m an acupuncturist. I graduated from the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine in 2010 and co-own an integrative practice in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. I’ve always enjoyed educating people about acupuncture and TCM and I’m excited to be a part of a project that can educate on a global level.
Autumn: I’m a photographer from the Pittsburgh area, self taught from the age of 16. Although I have certainly learned from some of the greats through workshops, I have no formal education in photography. I just celebrated my 12th year in business, and I’m excited about the future projects ahead, including this one with Emily. I have fallen in love with how acupuncture is not only a healing practice, but a true art form.
Thank you so much for sharing so many photos here today in this article. Where can we see all of your photos?
Autumn: You can see the entire catalog for print or digital purchases here on my website: Skysight Photography Acupuncture Photography Project.
Photos are also available to view on on my blog:
Emily: The photos will also be used on my practice’s website www.TrueHealthandFit.com and are available for purchase for other acupuncturists to use on their own websites or for art in their office and/or home.
What inspired you start this project?
Autumn: Through watching Emily perform acupuncture treatments on my own body, I was amazed at what an art form it was. I had never had a healthcare experience like it before, and fell in love with acupuncture because of the results I saw. I just wanted to share it with others.
Emily: My desire to share information about acupuncture and to help provide accurate and artistic photos of this beautiful medicine.
What do you hope that people will experience through your photos?
Emily: I want people who see the photos to feel the sense of calm my patients feel when they are on the treatment table. I also want to showcase the elegance of acupuncture that I see every day when treating patients.
Autumn: I completely agree with Emily’s answer on this, I feel that people can truly capture the sense of calm through the images and that will entice them to consider acupuncture if they have never before. I often hear people say they are afraid of needles, and that is why they have never thought about making an appointment. But seeing our images will hopefully change that inaccurate stigma that acupuncture means pain.
Who are your photos meant for? Acupuncturists, or the general public, or both?
You had quite a few black and white photos in Part I of The Acupuncture Photography Project, which are really beautiful. I’m personally a fan of full color though 🙂 Will you be releasing color photos as well?
Autumn: Yes, we actually have blogged mostly black and white images, but every image from the sessions are available in both black and white AND color! 🙂
The photos look effortless but I’m sure a ton of work goes into planning and executing these photo shoots. Can you walk us through the process, from brainstorming ideas, to set up, photography, etc.?
Emily: Yes, there is a bit of work involved but Autumn is very easy to work with so this project has been enjoyable and has flowed well. The set-up can be time consuming because of all of the supplies I need to bring to her studio but once everything is set up things move rather quickly.
When we first started chatting about the project we sat down and discussed our goals and overall vision and mission. I spent quite some time writing up an outline of points and treatments I wanted to include but ended up not following it! I was glad that I anticipated what I wanted to do but once we were in the shoot I just went with what felt right.
For the first shoot we used a professional model and a friend. The models in the third shoot were patients of mine because we wanted this shoot to be particularly authentic so that the photos would accurately represent what happens during an acupuncture treatment.
To help make things run smoothly I set up an organized table for my supplies. This helps me take care to follow CNT and to quickly get into a rhythm. Looking through some of the most recent photos I wish I had taken more time to reposition needles to help them look a little more symmetrical. Because we had more models for this shoot than in the past we had a tight timeline, and I did not give as much care to needle placement as I would have liked to have time to. This is something we will now know to take into consideration for future photo shoots.
However, I try not to scrutinize my point location when I see the photos; as long I am accurately and beautifully portraying safe treatments I am happy with my work as a practitioner in this project.
Autumn: Emily has a lot more of the prep work on the projects, and I have more of the post work, so we balance out perfectly in terms of the work load to pull off a great photo shoot. As she said, there’s a lot of preparing she must do in order to set up a full treatment room in the photography studio, so that she has everything needed, but also so that the treatment is comfortable, safe, and accurate for the patient being photographed.
Some people may not realize it, but the photos are actually taken of a real treatment on the model/patient. Although they don’t get as much time to relax, as we need to move a little quicker than an actual treatment. But we joke with the models that they get a ‘mini’ acupuncture treatment, just a little taste of it (haha). However, this makes it so that our images are 100% accurate, which is a very important part of this project for us.
Do you have any behind the scenes photos of the creative process that you can share with us?
Emily: I have very few but we have discussed having Autumn’s husband (a talented composer and photographer) film one of the upcoming shoots.
Autumn: Yes, only a few images, but we will definitely plan for more behind the scenes footage on the next session.
Where do you imagine your photos being used?
Emily: I have the images hanging in my office and patients love them and say that they feel calm just by looking at them. I will also be using them for my website I am grateful for this project because it is very difficult to find beautiful and accurate photos to represent acupuncture.
Autumn: Our initial plan was specifically for the images to be used solely in Emily’s office, her website, and on my blog. Little did we know that the images would hit the social media train with full force and be spread out to the world. We have now sold a few prints to acupuncturists in other countries, which is exciting knowing that they are being used for patients to see all around the world.
How can we purchase your photos?
Autumn: Right here on my website: Acupuncture Photography Project Photos for Sale.
Do you plan to continually add photos to your collection?
Emily: Yes! I plan on continuing this collaboration indefinitely.
Autumn: Yes, we have no plans to stop! We have some exciting ideas for the next few sessions together that we can’t wait to try out.
Any recommendations for those who want to take acupuncture photos at home, for fun or maybe for their Instagram accounts?
Autumn: My advice to acupuncturists who want to shoot their own photos would be to take a class or two to learn a little bit about photography and purchase the right lenses for the job (a macro lens is great for capturing those small needles), or team up with a local photographer in your area (perhaps a patient, like I’m a patient of Emily’s) and barter treatments for photo services.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Emily: I feel so lucky to have met and befriended Autumn. I have always had an appreciation for the art of photography and love her work and style. Autumn is professional, courteous, talented, adaptable, and a blast to work with. Autumn is a true fan of acupuncture and it shows through her work.
Autumn: There’s no words for how lucky I am as a patient of Emily’s to have found her for my acupuncturist, but even more so as a friend. Emily is a truly one of a kind individual with the biggest heart for others. I couldn’t be more excited about sharing with her the excitement this project has gained over the last several months.
Thank you for sharing your expertise and passion, Emily and Autumn! Looking forward to more amazing photos in future.
Again, to view or purchase any photos, click here: The Acupuncture Photography Project
I hope everyone reading this is inspired by their project to pursue the creative ideas that really light you up. Just maybe those ideas will be acupuncture-related and will help bring more positive awareness to acupuncture, which will benefit us all. If you have a great idea, go for it!
If you have questions or comments for Emily and Autumn, please leave them in the comments section below!