Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: "Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review  (Read 26525 times)

ednazarko

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 42
"Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review
« on: August 15, 2015, 03:53:36 pm »

A little extra color for the review.  I've taken a few workshops from Jay, and had the same experience as most of the other photographers I know - his workshop changed my images for the better more than any other workshop I've taken, and he barely talks about "photography" as most people think of it.  He focuses on seeing - not unusual after a day's shoot to hear a workshop participant say to him "I was standing right there with you and I didn't see that!  What an incredible photograph!"  He focuses on how light and color work, technically, and then either to your photograph's advantage, or against it.  And on teaching how to find the gesture that takes a pretty picture into a meaningful photograph.

The book is essentially the one lecture he'd give during a workshop (which my notes from the workshop said he titled "Light, Color, Gesture") for decades.  If you haven't had the good fortune to do a workshop with him, this is the keystone of the workshop in book form.  (Much less salty language...)  The three times I did workshops, the lecture ran just over an hour, and when the lights came up, the room was silent for a very, very long time.

I can recommend an approach to get good value from this book, something that I stumbled on to myself, and a few friends who I've shared this with have taken the same approach.  The musings on the pages opposite the photographs can seem random, but they're not.  Inside each is an insight about one aspect of light, or color, or gesture, and about how to be a better photographer by thinking about those things in different ways, with his musings as an example.  Pick one or two photo/text combos, think about them as a direction on  how to think differently next time you're out shooting, and practice it consciously for a week.  (This isn't that different than what happens in a workshop with Jay, other than there's no brutally honest and profane review of your portfolio...)  It hit me about a third of the way through the book that it felt like the daily shoot review sessions in his workshops.  When I treated a couple pages that way... it WAS in fact like a refresher workshop.

Almost everything I've heard him talk about - in workshops, in presentations at conferences, in online videos - is in this book.  (Some of it's in the other recent book he put out.)  Almost every other photographer I've taken a workshop with has a "when I did a workshop with Jay" story, and most of them end with identifying him as a huge kick in the pants forward in the richness of their work, from making the most of color to learning to seek out gesture.

It's a book of beautiful images by a photographer who's much honored.  But it's also a set of urgings and exhortations to be more conscious of light, color, and gesture, and less conscious of aperture, lens, and shutter speed.
Logged

AreBee

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 638
Re: "Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2015, 04:06:15 pm »

ednazarko,

Quote
He focuses on...teaching how to find the gesture that takes a pretty picture into a meaningful photograph.

Please can you provide an example of "gesture"?
Logged

DaveCurtis

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 508
    • http://www.magiclight.co.nz
Re: "Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2015, 04:54:57 pm »

I remember watching one of the Lula videos where Michael interviewed Jay in his "bank". It was a favourite of mine. He's an interesting dude!
Logged

Schewe

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6229
    • http:www.schewephoto.com
Re: "Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2015, 12:18:57 am »

Jay is an American Treasure...highly recommend the book, the lecture and his workshops. The only other person I know that is even half as productive at shooting is Seth Reznick who happens to be a disciple of Jay's.

As for an example of gesture, it's a concept where the action of a person or object defines the image. An example would be the shot of a man jumping over a puddle by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Jay calls it gesture, Henri Cartier-Bresson called it the decisive moment. But Jay takes it a bit further (since he shoots primarily color) and adds Light and Color added to the form of Gesture. The best images have elements of all three.
Logged

AreBee

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 638
Re: "Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2015, 03:47:10 am »

Jeff,

Quote
...it's a concept where the action of a person or object defines the image. An example would be the shot of a man jumping over a puddle by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Jay calls it gesture, Henri Cartier-Bresson called it the decisive moment.

Thank you.
Logged

ednazarko

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 42
Re: "Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2015, 11:01:14 am »

Gesture can also be inanimate.  Even Jay struggles with the idea, but it's something that defines a moment, person, or thing.  A guy sitting in a chair selling postcards in front of a building... what's the essence of the story?  What makes it something other than a handful of nouns?  The guy's expression... that the postcards say "welcome to New York" but you're clearly in Marrakesh... that it's not just a wall but a wall with depth and richness and age and character while the postcards are slick and modern as are the clothes and styles of the guy in front.

Any or all of those things could exist, but when you compose, you have to see them, think about which defined the moment that made you want to click your shutter, and then be sure you get it.  Blow the depth of field, and you lose the gesture in the wall or the "welcome to New York" on the biggest postcard.  Miss the moment and you miss the enormous yawn.  This is the kind of thing that's almost always at the heart of the "I was shooting right next to you and I didn't see that" comments.

Gesture is the thing in an image that makes you look at an image a little longer, and smile, sneer, snicker, or shake your head in disbelief.  Jay's a master at finding it.

If you look on the web for "Jay Maisel videos" you'll find several (including two done for this book, and several he did sponsored by Epson several years ago) where he explains, with some of the same images in the book.
Logged

digitaldog

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 20395
  • Andrew Rodney
    • http://www.digitaldog.net/
Re: "Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2015, 11:42:38 am »

ednazarko,
Please can you provide an example of "gesture"?
Here's one:
  ;D
« Last Edit: August 16, 2015, 11:45:56 am by digitaldog »
Logged
http://www.digitaldog.net/
Author "Color Management for Photographers".

Telecaster

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 3686
Re: "Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2015, 04:19:10 pm »

A fine example of gesture from a photo by Allen Bourgeois originally posted elsewhere here on LuLa:





-Dave-
Logged

NancyP

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2513
Re: "Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2015, 11:09:03 am »

Thanks for the review, this sounds like a great book.
Logged

hubell

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1134
Re: "Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2015, 07:39:33 pm »

That's actually a poor example of gesture. Gesture should speak for itself. You shouldn't need to know the context of the photograph to "see" the gesture. Unless you knew that Jay has always shot Nikon, you wouldn't know why he is sick to his stomach in the photo.... he is holding a Canon!

digitaldog

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 20395
  • Andrew Rodney
    • http://www.digitaldog.net/
Re: "Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2015, 07:46:19 pm »

Unless you knew that Jay has always shot Nikon, you wouldn't know why he is sick to his stomach in the photo.... he is holding a Canon!
Unless you even know that's Jay.
FWIW, Jay would disagree with you (I know him quite well FWIW), the man holding the camera is indeed gesturing.

ges┬Ěture
ˈjesCHər/Submit
noun
1.
a movement of part of the body, especially a hand or the head, to express an idea or meaning.
"Alex made a gesture of apology"
synonyms:   signal, sign, motion, indication, gesticulation; show
"a gesture of surrender"
Logged
http://www.digitaldog.net/
Author "Color Management for Photographers".

Jim Metzger

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 135
Re: "Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2015, 10:29:11 am »

From the Master himself:

"I don't believe as the dictionary says that gesture just has to do with the movement of arms and faces and legs.  I believe that gesture is involved in everything we photograph. We've all photographed gesture all our live (sic). We just have not always been aware of it."

"Gesture will always reveal narrative, which light and color alone find it difficult to do. Gesture can tell a story."

I attended Jay's lecture at PhotoExpo a few years ago. A pivotal moment in 48 years of my photography. I believe he went to great pains to define "gesture" as the "essence" of the photograph (or any other art medium).  Removing extraneous information from the image through location,framing and time (quality of light present) and recording the image at just the right moment will, if you are lucky (or Jay Maisel and many other greats), give you half a chance at a great photograph.Preparing and displaying that image to present your "idea" is the other half.

I was lucky enough to spend a few minutes on the ground floor of Jay's legendary residence, another unforgettable moment. It ranks right up there with Sir John Soanes Museum in London as an architectural "gesture" that defines the person who lives there. It should be turned into a Foundation for Photography!
Logged

digitaldog

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 20395
  • Andrew Rodney
    • http://www.digitaldog.net/
Re: "Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2015, 10:35:12 am »

From the Master himself:
"I don't believe as the dictionary says that gesture just has to do with the movement of arms and faces and legs.  I believe that gesture is involved in everything we photograph. We've all photographed gesture all our live (sic). We just have not always been aware of it."
"Gesture will always reveal narrative, which light and color alone find it difficult to do. Gesture can tell a story."
And I believe the photo tells a story (whether you know that's Jay or not).

Yes, Jay's building was amazing, I first saw it back in 1988, after graduating from ACCD. Jay's uncle was dating my grandmother at the time, true story. I got Jay's phone number and asked if I could come by and meet him. He of course said yes (that's how Jay is, super generous), I spent several hours that day with Jay, getting the tour. Been to the site 3 or 4 times since then, absolutely astounding experience each time. I will treasure those times there and the many photo's I have of those experiences.
Logged
http://www.digitaldog.net/
Author "Color Management for Photographers".

David Watson

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 480
    • David Watson
Re: "Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2015, 12:23:14 pm »

This is one of the best and most inspirational photographic books I have seen in a very long time.  Full marks to Jay and to LuLa for publicising it.  I ordered it right away from Amazon and it will be looked at gain and again and again.
Logged
David Watson ARPS

Jim Metzger

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 135
Re: "Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2015, 04:46:31 pm »

And I believe the photo tells a story (whether you know that's Jay or not).

I agree. I think the  image of Jay with Canon tells a story with a "typical" Jay "over the top" gesture. He is one entertaining guy.

I was trying to explain to others who may not have had the opportunity to hear Jay explain "gesture", that a persons physical expression is only one part of Jay's definition of what "gesture" may be in a photograph. Every image; landscape, street, reportage, commercial, documentary, etc., has "gesture". He happens to capture it and distill it to its essence well as anyone with a camera.

It is one of the things I continue to work on with my own photography. One of the many things I love about photography, you are never quite done...
Logged

hubell

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1134
Re: "Light, Color, Gesture" Book Review
« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2015, 06:15:27 pm »

Unless you even know that's Jay.
FWIW, Jay would disagree with you (I know him quite well FWIW), the man holding the camera is indeed gesturing.

ges┬Ěture
ˈjesCHər/Submit
noun
1.
a movement of part of the body, especially a hand or the head, to express an idea or meaning.
"Alex made a gesture of apology"
synonyms:   signal, sign, motion, indication, gesticulation; show
"a gesture of surrender"


I think the last place I would look for a definition of "gesture" as used by Jay Maisel is the dictionary. In the most exceptional examples of "gesture" in the Jay Maisel sense of the term, the photograph is of a person who is not willfully attempting to communicate a message of any sort. The camera captures something that in in a sublime way reveals the person. Even a landscape photograph can have "gesture", though there is no attempt by a person to express an idea or meaning. This reminds me of Justice Potter Stewart of the US Supreme Court who famously said in 1964 that he could not define hard core pornography, but he knew it when he saw it.
Pages: [1]   Go Up