But first...I wanted to talk about the email I just got from a "someday wannabe professional photographer" (lol) regarding my belly dancer images. He was just starting to do some of those types of images and felt like there was a lot of not-so-great work out there, and that his own vision of what great shots of belly dancers should look like, appeared a whole lot like MINE. Aww schucks, blush :)
So as I'm writing a reply, I take the opportunity to get introspective and long winded. I mean when your writing an email (or a blog for that matter) nobody can interrupt your winding thought process and everything just spewing out.
So here's sorta what I wrote, which turned into MY APPROACH TO PORTRAITURE!
Thanks for your email...belly dancers are so dang gorgeous in person that I suppose some photographers think it would be easy to take an excellent picture of them. A picture of something BEAUTIFUL is not the same thing as a beautiful PICTURE, I think all us photogs learn that. I think it really shows your photographic "chops" when you can create an image that rivals how it feels to be in the presence of the real thing. When I was approached by my very first belly dancing client, she explained that she did not want to look like a "harem girl" and showed me examples of images she liked. I looked at the kind of work that was out there and just took note of what I thought was gorgeous. I encourage you to keep doing the same!
I think it's also important to note that I'm very serious about my approach to portraiture and the energy exchange between the client and the photographer, the trust that needs to be built and the ability to allow the client to feel beautiful and shoot it. It's a very psychological thing, a photoshoot. I need their trust as well, so that I can relax and allow intuitive ideas to surface. Though obviously critical, I care less about f-stops and ISO, and care more about what fleeting moments happen that make me excited at the beauty I'm seeing and how much I want the client to know how beautiful they are. The shoot is not about us, the photographers, in my opinion, or satisfaction for our OWN sake. I mean maybe if your shooting inanimate objects or landscapes, but not portraiture.
I try to take myself out of it, to an extent. Ideally for me, I just let my style flow and my client shine. I try to think about just the things I have to, and empty my mind of anything I don't.