I agree with Michael's assessment. In the first place I don't think photographers are artists. I think that is an ego driven term. Ocassionally we may turn our art but I believe we are craftsmen.
We all started out by being attracted by someone's work and we tried to learn to copy it. Along the way we learn technique and skills that eventually help us to shoot to our occasional satisfaction. To create a successful photograph we must be in a mode that I think "heightened awareness" describes very well. The word trance I don't really like.
I think there are many technical photographers who are in fact technicians who probably turn out perfect, wonderful negatives. However since we don't sell negatives, who cares. I think the joy in photography is in turning out wonderful prints and that must include a photograph that has "impact" and a fresh look.
Since most on this forum are landscape photographers I would suggest try being a technician and photograph a six year old. You may get a great negative but will probably get a lousy print
Photographing people requires a constant rapport and intimacy. If you spend your time thinking and messing with your equipment you will miss the magic every time.
I will use the analogy of playing hockey, my other passion. You play at a heightened state of awareness because of the speed, flow and also the possibility of injury. Very little is scripted, so it is all very creative and improvisational. The plays you execute are done at a high speed so there is no time for thinking. It is all muscle memory, and instinctive because of years of practice. The skates, stick, puck and the ice are all just tools that allow you can arrive at this place in your head that gives you this feeling.
I treat photography the same way. The photographic equipment is a tool. Our knowledge is a tool. Once I get behind the camera I treat them as tools that allow me to arrive in this place in my head, my creative side, to hopefully make great photographs.
Just an opinion,