"Just what the hell is gesture?" Students often challenge photographer and teacher Jay Maisel with this question because "gesture" is one of the central themes explored in his book and workshops titled "Light, Gesture and Color." Jay is the first to admit that his unorthodox use of gesture is confusing but gave up trying to find a better word after exhaustive searches of dictionaries and thesauri.
For Jay, gesture is not limited to the common definition of "a movement of part of the body, especially a hand or the head, to express an idea or meaning" but the Zen-like expression that is at the very heart of everything we shoot -- the "it-ness" of our subjects.
In the introduction to his book, he writes "You will, in time, see and show others not just the superficial, but the details, the meanings, and the implications of all that you look at: the wetness, reflectivity, and power of water; the subtlety of clouds; the texture of the bark of the tree; the delightful surface of a finished piece of wood; the smoothness of a baby; the rough, ragged face of the aged; or the aerial perspective of diminishing clarity in a series of mountains."
Gesture is at the heart of this week's photo -- from the misshapen trees warped by the harsh climate to the ghostly mists clinging to the icy stream to the evergreen forest entombed until spring. There's even an example of gesture in the more common meaning of expressive movement -- the two larger foreground trees seem to reach out or bow to each other while the smaller tree turns away.
I would never have taken this photo before attending Jay's workshop in 2011 but it's become one of my longtime favorites. Thanks Jay!