© Edward De la Torre

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Musing on Gesture

While reading Ibarionex Perello's "Making Photographs" I really honed in on chapter about gesture. In addition to the elements Perello outlines - Light and Shadow, Line and Shape, Color and Gesture - it's gesture that I find most effective and elusive when photographing subjects who are aware they are being recorded.

You've seen it a thousand times. Everyone is existing in their natural state and as soon as the camera is raised, whether traditional camera or cell phone, an alternate persona rises out of the individual in front of the lens. They become self-aware and self conscious. In this moment they'll be recorded into forever and they have an idea of what THEY want portrayed. How they see themselves.

The magic trick is making the camera disappear. Once the lights are setup and the stage is set it's my job to work my subject with intent. Am I looking for some emotional trauma, a hidden character, a joyful spirit, an inspired soul? I wrestle with conversation to get to where I see the subject in truth, in honesty.

It's within this honesty that gesture begins to take form. We have memories of loved ones the way they look. Factual things about their appearance. Their hair color, eye color, height, skin complexion. These are all descriptors that can be captured factually by any camera in any person's hands. The truth rises when we begin to capture gesture. The way they smile, laugh, cry. The way they point with their index finger, middle finger, or pinky finger. The way they move about, gracefully or not. These are the gestures that we fall in love with and build our memories about a person's personality.

Once you capture gesture you capture the essence of the person.