State Street, Santa Barbara, California, 2014
As Santa Barbara’s main street moves downhill towards the sea, its exclusive shops and restaurants gradually give way to less expensive pursuits. These locals were enjoying a friendly chat as I watched and waited for a gesture that would draw the eye and tell the story. As the woman turns towards the fellow whose hand rests on the back of her bench, she extends her hand, adding emphasis to her tale. I moved my position to frame the man within the red background panel. Two primary colors drench this image – the blue costumes and signs, along with the red panel, combine to warm the image and intensify the neighborly feeling.
Crash Landing, Palm Springs, California, 2013
Gesture plays a major role in this advertisement of a young boy holding his nose and grasping nothing but air while plunging into the stylized waves at the bottom of a promotional sign placed just outside of a souvenir shop. There are no ocean waves anywhere near Palm Springs, which adds irony to this gesture and may change its meaning for some. While someone normally might grasp their nose to hold their breath, this kid seems to also be incongruously inferring that landing on a hard sidewalk really stinks. Meanwhile, celebrities past and present indifferently observe his plight from a nearby postcard rack.
Student celebration, Valletta, Malta, 2011
These are local pharmacy students, celebrating an event by marching through the streets of Valletta carrying balloons and blowing whistles. I was able to capture their exuberance here, spontaneous gestures expressing feelings of joy and prankishness.
Revelry Valletta Malta copy.jpg
The students in the previous shot -- http://www.pbase.com/image/140361476
-- were part of a large group of revelers that were roaming the streets of Valletta, singing, blowing whistles, and chanting slogans. I abstract them here as they headed up a hill under the city’s holiday decorations. One of them raises her arm to extend a finger – her gesture seems intended to guide and inspire those who march behind her.
Greetings, Ricaurte, Ecuador, 2011
While visiting this small village just outside of Cuenca, we were exuberantly welcomed by a pair of schoolchildren. One of them waved a scarf, grazing the head of the student standing next to her. The flying scarf complements her arm gesture, while the gap-toothed grin of the other schoolgirl adds another dimension to the image.
“I’m over here,” Depot, Durango, Colorado, 2010
A throng of tourists crowds the door of Durango’s depot shortly before the Durango and Silverton railroad’s morning steam train departs on its three and a half hour run to Silverton. One fellow apparently caught in the middle of the hubbub is frantically trying to hail a family member – his gesture provides the focal point of this image.
Thought, Scottsdale Library, Scottsdale, Arizona, 2010
These women had stopped just outside the Scottsdale library to have a discussion. Expressive images can come out of such simple events as this. As the woman in the background took out a notebook to jot something down, the lady in the foreground suddenly brought her index finger to her lips, closed her eyes, and simply focused on whatever she was thinking about. The gesture she uses here symbolically seals her lips, forcing her to converse with herself for a moment through the power of thought.
School’s out, Kayenta, Arizona, 2009
The six children in this image offer a striking contrast in gesture. Three of the children are waving at our cameras, which we were shooting through the windows of our van as it moved through the town. Three others stare at us as if we were aliens from another planet. The focal point of the image is the expression on the face of the child in middle of the image. As one of the older children, she realizes what is happening, and is making the most of an opportunity to make a memorable impression on us.
Visitors, Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey, 2009
Three Muslim women share a bench in the park that runs alongside of Istanbul’s most important mosque. Their gestures reflect their feelings at the moment. The woman at left seems tired. The woman shrouded in black looks intensely at the camera, her gaze intensified by the fact that much of her face is veiled. And the woman at right adjusts her head covering at they wait their turn to enter the mosque. By relating multiple gestures to each other, I strengthen the image’s message: although sharing a common experience, each person responds in their own way.
Callers, Montreal, Canada, 2009
Phone conversations often produce expressive gestures. In this case, the sharp person in the foreground seems to making an appeal to a higher force, looking upwards and using an open hand for emphasis. That hand holds a cigarette, and so does the hand of the softly focused woman in the background, who is also talking on the phone. The subject is forceful, while the contextual subject is relaxed. Yet in our mind’s eye, we can imagine them talking to each other.
Family, Newburyport, Massachusetts, 2009
Gesture, body language, and expression are at the heart of this image. An abstracted man cradles a child in his arms. A little girl wearing an oversized hat throws back her head as she seeks approval from a man who thrusts his open hand towards her. Another child seems to see none of it as she retreats into her own domain. Meanwhile a woman nurses an infant behind them. Such is the nature of family life, as human responses flow back and forth around the vividly colored shopping bag anchoring the image.
Decision, Ipswich, Massachusetts, 2009
Folded arms and pursed lips can indicate deep thoughts leading to profound decisions. In this case, it seems to be a matter of choice. The young lady in question is studying a rack of clothing at a village craft fair. To buy or not to buy? This decisive photographic moment invites the viewer to stop and ponder the question along with her.