Dominance and submission

For some reason the term “dance” comes up alot when I talk about the process of making photographs. There has to be a leader, a follower and some kind of pulse that you are flowing with. Who is leading is not often obvious on the outside of that delicate and sometimes brief relationship.

But it goes deeper than that. There has to be some kind of control established by the photographer at some time or the photos don’t happen. For some this is a clearly defined management of every tiny thing that happens in front of your lens. In other situations it’s asking for permission to enter the world and confidence of the subject so that you can become invisible. Sometimes it’s finding a way to excite the subject about you vision and gaining their eager compliance in your silly idea. Either way the photographer is taking charge because we have to.

I prefer a soft approach whenever possible. That’s me. I want to get out of the way to let my subject show themselves to me so that I can show them to you. I have to have enough ego to make the photo happen but not so much that the photo is more about me than what my lens is pointed at.

So I will usually ask “Shall we dance?” then start us off on the first few steps and then let the subject mostly lead. I’ve set the tone, chosen the style and the pace but let them put in their fancy footwork so that I can capture the serendipity when it unfolds. So I’m in charge but barely.

“If you think that you are in control, you aren’t going fast enough.” Jackie Stewart

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