How I Got the Shot: Jerry A Study in Gesture

I read an article recently (that can be read here) that I fully agree with. The article deals with technical precision versus emotion in photography (and specifically how your clients view this). The author argues that emotion is more important (especially to clients) than technical precision in photography.

When I was a student at the Hallmark Institute of Photography I shot very conservatively and did everything by the book. This is one of the reasons I graduated with the highest academic honor (highest grades through the entire year). My work was always very technically precise (correct exposures, any blemished retouched out, etc). As I’ve grown older and started to understand the craft of photography better I’ve started to realize the important of gesture and expression in photography. Even though I still try to have all my images be as technically correct as possible, adding gesture to imagery is something that I’ve learnt is very important (and something I hope to become a hallmark of my work).

In the article mentioned above the author talks about how he was originally surprised at how many high school seniors have friends (of a similar age) shoot their senior portraits. This is actually something I did quite a bit back when I was in high school. Even though I didn’t have the technical photographic ability that I would later develop at Hallmark many of the images had that gesture and expression encapsulated in my later work. This was because of the connection I had with the subject. People close to another person can more easily get good expressions out of the aforementioned person than a complete stranger can. This is one of the reasons older images of mine shot of friends still hold up because of the expression and gesture I could get in the images due to the subject and I’s closeness. This is another reason I recommend friends or siblings coming to senior portrait sessions because they can help get those natural expressions out of subjects which someone not as close to them can’t.

An example of the aforementioned portraits which have great expression and gesture is this old senior portrait of my friend Jerry. During his senior portrait he and I were joking around telling jokes and what not. This allowed me to get a genuine expression out of Jerry. This image was later published in PDNedu mostly due to the expression. The image was shot in open shade next to a barn his parents owned with a wide aperture (small f number to throw the background out of focus).

Shot using a Nikon D200 with a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens handheld in natural light. ISO 200 50mm f/2.8 1/350 of a second shutter speed.

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