Tobias Hutzler on photographing “mindfulness” for Time magazine

For this week’s cover story, Time magazine takes a look at “The Mindful Revolution.” “If distraction is the preeminent condition of our age,” writes Time’s Kate Pickert, “then mindfulness, in the eyes of its enthusiasts, is the most logical response.”

But how do you photograph mindfulness? The magazine’s photo team decided on the concept of a walking meditation—literally a meditation that you do while on a structured walk—in a bustling New York City park. And they asked Tobias Hutzler to bring this concept to life.

“We talked about how there would be ‘normal’ people in the park having picnics, etc., and there would be a bunch of meditation participants wandering slowly around these other people,” explains Tobias. “We wanted to capture this scene with some nice sunlight to get at the idea of the story.”

Tobias worked closely with the photo team—director of photography Kira Pollack, senior photo producer Bridget Harris, and associate photo editor Neil Harris—to create a lighting concept and a precisely defined window of time window for the shoot.

“My approach was to translate the aspect of meditation into light/light flare and reflections, so light was the key in my visual concept,” says Tobias, who carefully scouted and planned the location: Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. “I was working with sunlight in a specific angle. We built huge custom special reflectors to create a vey distinct light-feel, and we used a newly developed reflection surface to create a very magical real light.”

Though he directed the meditation participants, “the scenery is natural,” says Tobias. “A documentary view onto a New York City park.”

Below, the image published in Time, plus two outtakes…
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Photo by Tobias Hutzler for Time, February 2, 2104, issue.

Photo by Tobias Hutzler for Time, February 2, 2104, issue.

Tobias Hutzler_mindfulness 2

An outtake from Tobias’s shoot.

Tobias Hutzler_mindfulness 3

An additional outtake.

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