How can you connect with your subject?

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Pulitzer-prize winning, NY Times photographer Damon Winter selected my portrait because the photo “showed a quiet grace and a direct and intimate connection between the subject and the photographer.”
How did we connect?
Initially we chatted about his beautiful home, an old Fes al Bali mansion. Then, I noticed his dog, a cocoa brown Rottweiler, sleeping on his tether attached to the central courtyard fountain. We continued chatting as I took a few photos of them playing together.