I’ve recently taken up Argentine tango. As a man, or rather, a leader (as opposed to follower) in the dance, there is a lot to think about.
I have to be a good technical dancer (knowing my steps and techniques). I have to lead the dance (plan ahead). I must also make sure we don’t crash into other couples (have an overview). Following the music is a given. Above all, I need to create an environment in which the woman can enjoy the dance and express herself. At first, I was concentrating so much about the technical stuff, that I almost forgot about the rest. That is, until I crashed into someone or the woman said she felt I was driving her like a racecar around the dance floor. Believe me, that’s not what argentine tango is about ;)
Step by step, I started to get the technical stuff down. I trained weekly. No longer was I having tunnel vision, and I managed to keep an eye on the room as well as taking care of my dance partner. All this while trying to express the music through my dancing. It's challenging, to say the least. But at the same time, it's a wonderful feeling when it all works and both of us can enjoy the dance.
When starting a new endeavour, it’s normal to be nervous. It's normal to focus on the technical side of things. Starting out as a headshot photographer, I was nervous every time I got someone in front of my camera. Fidgeting, talking too much about technical stuff, not focusing on the client. It's all normal as you start out.
You need to get the hours in. Train more. Get yourself out there. Shoot everyone from your neighbour to your kids to your grandparents and your lawyer. For free at first.
Sooner or later, you will find the peace you need. You will have the technical parts in place. You will have a plan, and an overview of the session – how to build up your shtick. And above all, you will be able to communicate with your subject in a way that lets them express themselves.
Your job as a photographer is to be like the leader in dance. Let your client enjoy the session. Let her be herself, express herself, lead by you, but not feeling forced into anything.
That – is when art appears.