Osaka, 2018 #cindyproject

The Dancing Photographer

Osaka, 2018 #cindyproject
Osaka, 2018 #cindyproject

“I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance.” – Nietzsche

Dear friend,

A practical thought: treat photography like dancing!

1. Treat shooting photos like dancing

Osaka, 2018 #cindyproject
Osaka, 2018 #cindyproject

Nowadays when I make photos, I treat it like dancing.

When I am making photos with her, I feel her energy, and I dance with her energy with my camera. I make photos, laugh, chat with her, direct her a bit, and also change my positioning when shooting photos. I dance with my camera– using different angles, orientations, and I treat every photo I shoot as a playful, fun, creative experiment. I often don’t know what kind of photo I’m going to make until I shoot it.

2. Dancing isn’t just specific dance moves; but the whole performance

When it comes to dancing, we cannot judge a dance performance with isolated dance moves. No — dancing is all about the culmination, the combination, and the whole dance performance.

Treat the same in your photography: a single photograph isn’t what makes a good photography project, or a good photographer. Rather, treat your photography as a whole performance.

Osaka, 2018 #cindyproject
Osaka, 2018 #cindyproject

When you work on photography projects, think about the cadence, the mood, the dynamic movement, the high points (treble) and low points (bass) of your photos.

And when you look at your photos, ask yourself:

Does looking at my photos inspire me to move, dance, smile, and laugh? Do my photos proclaim the beauty of life? Are my photos uplifting, motivating, and inspirational? Are my photos alive and full of vigor and energy? Or do my photos make me feel dead and passive inside?

3. Shoot lots of photos!

If you see a scene you like, don’t just take 1 photo. Rather, continually shoot. Keep shooting, and later choose what your 1 favorite photo is.

For example, here is a series of photos I shot of Cindy when we were out in Osaka, eating barbecue, and her taking a sip of sake. I initially took the first photo of her posing, then more dynamic photos of her sipping the sake (shot with flash):

To me, when I keep taking many photos, I feel like I’m dancing with my camera, experimenting with different compositions, framing, angles, perspectives, timing, orientation, etc.

4. Shoot what brings you joy

When you see a scene that puts a smile on your face, just keep moving, and shooting!

5. Discover the most dynamic composition while you’re shooting

Don’t be a static photographer. Be a dynamic photographer by shooting a lot, and trying more dynamic compositions, like the tilted DUTCH ANGLE.

Also you never know what the best composition/photo is going to be, until you start shooting it.

Which means, while you’re shooting, discover the composition while you’re shooting a scene.

For example, here is a series of portraits I shot of Cindy. Note how some photos are shot with a flash, some without, and some different angles, and different hand-gestures from her:

dutch angle cindy hallway, airbnb, osaka

Lesson: Don’t just take 1 photo of the scene. Remember: WORK THE SCENE!


Photography is a joyful art. Whenever you make a photograph, smile.

Dance when you shoot, because it is great to be alive.

Having photography is a great blessing: we can make instant art, and make photos of whatever is meaningful to us.

Never stop shooting, and never stop dancing!



Just shoot it:

See all articles >