Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Light, Gesture and Color by Jay Maisel

Lately I have been reading the newest book by the extraordinary photographer Jay Maisel:

Mr. Maisel has long talked about light, color, and gesture as making up the components of a succesful photograph.  Color and light are relatively easy to understand (at least on the very surface....digging deeper can take you to all sorts of hard to reach places).....but gesture, that's not easy, even from a superficial standpoint. It's not easy because it doesn't mean the gesture we first think's not the movement of a hand or body part.  So what is gesture?

Maisel explains it as the essense that is at the heart of any 'thing' we photograph.  More specifically:

 "Gesture is the expression that is at the very heart of everything we shoot.  It's not just the determined look on a face; its not just the grace of a dancer or athlete.  It is not only the brutalized visage of the bloodied boxer.  Neither is it only limited to age, or youth, or people, or animals.  It exists in a leaf, a tree, and a forest. It reveals the complicated veins of the leaf, the delta-like branches of the tree, and when seen from the air, the beautiful texture of the forest

It reveals the essence of each thing that we look at: human, mineral, or animal, or brick, stone, or metal. It doesn't stop there.  We see it in clouds, crowds, magnificent mansions, and humble huts."

The book is filled with both Maisel's gorgeous photographs as well as his wit and wisdom.  Those who might have heard him speak are familiar with what I mean!

It all got me thinking about which of my photos combine all three qualities in a way that I feel reflects what Maisel means in his book.  The answer was obvious to me as one image popped right into my mind. It is one that I have posted some time ago, but I feel comfortable posting it again in relation to what Maisel's book has made me think about.  In fact, I reworked the image slightly to bring forth the qualities of light, color and gesture a bit more.

But before I get to that image I want to post a really great video I found that describes what Jay Maisel is all about...then on to the photo:

That really sums up a lot of what you will see, read, and feel in his book.

And now the photo.  I don't usually walk about in the free wheeling and tripod unencumbered way that Maisel does.  But the last time I did, this image, as Maisel often says, came to me.  That happens when your mind is open and receptive, which, unfortunately, happens all too infrequently.  When you are in the right mindset though the images do, indeed, seem to find you instead of the other way around.

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by Howard G

© Howard Grill