I first heard Jay Maisel discuss this concept in Orlando in 2010 at that year’s Photoshop World. After walking into a room not really knowing what to expect, I walked out with my entire worldview changed.
The starting point is that a good image is defined through these three components. Light, Color, and Gesture.
LightPhotography is the art of light. At its most basic, a photograph is capturing light and recording it on a two dimensional plane. As one proceeds down your photographic journey, you begin to recognize hugely varying qualities of light, and how light, and the absence of light, can define a scene and am image. As my friend Rick Sammon often says, “Light illuminates, Shadows define.”
ColorColor and light are as intricately linked as, well, electricity and magnetism. My geek readers will appreciate the analogy… or lack of analogy. 🙂 We see color as interpreted by cells in our eyes and our brains read those signals to tell us what they see. Some of us see colors differently than others, and others are unable to see some colors at all. But for any who can see colors at all, the range and strength of color can draw your attention, bring memories to the forefront, or drive your attention to vacillate between two complementary colors in a scene. Even the lack of color in a black and white image is important, as our expectations and experiences will let us fill in what we expect to see in our mind’s eye.
Light and Color are the two aspects for which most photographers and viewers are most familiar, even if they have not thought of them as explicitly defined in this way. The final component, however, is just as important but less commonly thought of as a direct function of an image.
GestureWhat is Gesture? Gesture is movement, an expression, an essence. Gesture is most easily explained in the context of an image of a person but is not constrained there. In fact, what I personally found the most moving, and challenging, is the extension of Gesture to inanimate objects.
In a person, Gesture is the expression, a hand, a look on someone’s face, or the expectation of something happening. It is “telling the story” of the object through the expectations of the viewer. I am curious about further exploring how the concepts of gesture translate across cultures and languages, and if there are images of gesture that are universally or not-universally accessible.In exploring the concepts of Gesture and sharing images, Jay introduced each image with the simple phrase, “The gesture of…” and completed it with a single word or concept. The gesture of a sunset, the gesture of a city, the gesture of love. There is, of course, no single gesture for any of these concepts, but there are images that do and do not capture a gesture. Later this week I’ll share some examples that capture these concepts.
If you are interested in learning more, check out Ibarionex Perello’s interview with Jay Maisel from September, 2011.