This month we feature a wonderful portrayal of tango music by Tango Photographer, Екатерина Денисова from Moscow, Russia.

The image is of the hand of the renowned musician, Pablo Montanelli, El Cachivache Quinteto taken at a recent performance in Moscow during their world tour. The tango band played at Milonga Me Gusta on 25 April 2017.
Екатерина Денисова took the shot using a Nikon D750. Her aim was to find the passion for the music; to show how it feels inside the musician’s intimate space between only himself and his piano.

We love the energy rushing out of this image. The light and shadow from such an interesting angle, the details of the hand, muscles contracting, poised amongst the piano keys. The graininess adds authenticity to the image. A fraction of a second in time and yet…

Can you hear the music?

The SHOOT International Tango Photography competition sets the challenge to amateur and professional photographers all over the world to find their personal interpretation of ‘The Spirit of Tango’. The judging panel are looking for one beautiful, technically excellent, truly original and creative image that portrays what we all know very well is an intangible, completely unnattainable ‘thing’ that can never be perfectly captured with words or by even watching the dance itself. Equally, is there just one ‘thing’…? So… where to begin? What images to enter?

Here are some tips:

Remember that the winning image must achieve two things; it must portray the photographer’s interpretation of ‘The Spirit of Tango’ and it must be deemed by the judges as an excellent example of photographic imagery. A wonderful image of, for example, people riding bicycles to a milonga in Amsterdam, is NOT an image of ‘Tango’ unless it can definitely be perceived by looking at the image that the people are in fact tango dancers riding bicycles to a milonga.

Read the competititon » Terms of Entry to ensure your image fits the criteria and is not disqualified. The terms are important because they make certain the competition is fair to all participants. It would be such a shame to disqualify any image because the photographer neglected an important detail.

The SHOOT introduces the panel of judges with a series of interviews and examples of published work. All of the judges are professional photographers forging successful careers in their own genres. Some dance tango, some do not. Others are journalists, editors or similar with years of experience in linked industries. Consider the judging panel. How do you think they will view your images collectively?

Look back at the » Previous Finalists. The judging panel is different this year so it won’t help you to copy them but just browsing through the images that did well will give you an indication of the kind of benchmark that has been set and be inspired.

It is true, the judges are all 100% human so make your images ‘connect’ with them in some way. Imagine that they will spend hours considering, sorting, debating and filtering all the images to find ‘the one’. Stand out from the crowd! Choose images that are compelling and evoke an emotion. Use striking colors, unusual and strong compositions, play with light and shadow, movement or stillness. Aim to make the judges stop and look again. The judges kept coming back to look at » Philippe’s Winning Photo too many times to remember. They debated it for hours, pulled apart every pixel, compared it to every other image, left it alone and kept returning to look at it one more time.

Join in and be proud of what you submit. You don’t need to be a professional photographer or have fancy equipment. Use your phone, an old manual camera or anything else. The SHOOT is about celebrating our passion for tango, sharing ideas, being inspired and above all recognising and appreciating the talent and skill it takes to shoot Tango well.

We are delighted to present the overall ‘Spirit of Tango’ Award 2014 to Philippe Gauthier for the image ‘Cindarella’s Dream’. Philippe receives £100 in gift vouchers to the photography store of his choice.

Congratulations Philippe, its a wonderful shot!

“This is such a great news! I’m very honored. I know the competition was tight and I’m very happy my picture could get so far.” Philippe Gauthier


The judges said: One of the best images so far. Its editorial quality! If I took it I would be delighted. The dancers stand to the side to let the central focus through. The image is beautifully lit. The thin line of light coming from under the couch draws my eye to the subject and ties the dancers on each side together, creating a line of motion.


FROM: I live in Paris, it’s a great city for tango and photography so I’m quite happy about it.

GENRE: It’s a difficult question, I like them all : street, night, portrait, macro, … and of course tango !

STYLE: It’s something evolving, and I’m just discovering what is my style or styles. I like deep blacks, warm reds, textures, but maybe more importantly giving a sense of depth. Technically, I like to be discreet, to be unobtrusive and not alter my subject, to capture it as it is. Then, it might sound cheeky, but there is something about love and optimism… Trying to find the best framing, the best color, waiting for everything to be just right, to make you love the subject. It’s like the half-empty/half-full glass dilemma, but I try to make everyone see the glass…, full.


Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the northeastern suburbs of Paris in a little house, with a front and a back yard, and a park nearby.

What do you do when you are not taking pictures?
I’m also a computer engineer in a state research institute for health. I do a LOT of tango. I’m also in an amateur band. We play for theatre. Sometimes I play piano or ukulele. I love to travel and watch movies.

Why did you start doing tango photography?
Well I started photography for tango! Something was so fascinating about a couple dancing tango, so many delicate emotions kept within, yet, sometimes so strong. I wanted to fix that somewhere and prolong the fainting moment.

Why do you love being a photographer?
It’s my personal therapy! I’m a bit shy, so that’s my way to say I love you to the world, and you should too !

What was your first camera?
My father gave me a compact Olympus Lumix LX3.

What type of camera do you have now?
I have an “hybrid” camera which means it’s very compact, without any mirror mechanisms like reflex cameras, but I can still change lenses and have good image quality. I trade the operability and auto focus system the pro cameras have for something cheap, light and that I can carry everywhere! I work mostly with legacy and manual lenses, I lose auto-focus, but there is something self-rewarding by doing all that manually and the camera still helps me.

What catches your eye and compels you to take a shot?
Usually emotions like a smile. Or something you can guess but not quite see yet. Sometime just sunlight beaming at grass makes me run on my knees to take a shot. :p

What is something you are still learning?
I have learned most technical aspects of photography and now I’m learning what is my style, what I’m naturally good at, and am pushing it to the max. I’m also allowing myself to get out of it sometimes and try something new, even if the result is bad at first, it gives contrast.

What advice do you have for photographers just starting out?
To try to find a camera he/she can have fun with. Something easy at first. Smartphones are getting better and better if your geeky or an Instax camera that can give you a real photo you can share. So yes, something to get the result, a photo, fast and be able to quickly re-try. Ok, night photos and interior photos will require a better camera but you can still do long exposure shots, and it seems I won with a long exposure shot. The most important thing is framing, the line of a photo, a pro camera won’t teach you that but could lose yourself in all the parameters available.
Then be curious about everything. Ask yourself, ‘what do I like about this photo?’ Then ask your friend. Then try to make that photo again. Look at others’ works, painting, …

What do you think is the greatest challenge for a tango photographer?
If can mention three of them. I would say it’s about scenery, light and patience. The light is usually so dim inside milongas that it restricts the scene possibilities. Then it’s to renew that scenery, its scale, to find a new story to tell with the same couple, something original. Finally patience is key. I usually choose my frame and wait for a good scene to form itself in it. I sometimes get tired of waiting. But that’s exactly how I made the shot of Cindarella’s Dream, so it’s worth it !

Nothing will stop this man from dancing!

I like the ghostly shadow of the dancers as the glide around the room.

I like how the line of the arms leads the eye to the young mans face.

Couple performing with full passion.

Three Ladies waiting for next tanda.

The Passion

Ah.. we take ourselves too seriously, too much of the time. Tango can be fun. Angelica (L) is organiser of the friendliest, most relaxed monthly milonga in the Yorkshire region.