Non Human Gesture

I talk to my online classes with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct throughout the world about the importance of a gesture in your imagery; it’s one of the ways to create Visual Tension.

The actual definition of a gesture is “a movement of a part of the body, especially a hand or the head, to express an idea. It’s an action performed to convey one’s feelings.”

Visual Tension is generated when you stop an action, as in a gesture, and leave it uncompleted. I’m always on the lookout for someone using a gesture either while talking or even pointing. That said, I don’t like to take photos of people pointing unless I have positioned them close to the edge of the frame so they’re pointing out. Tha way the viewer doesn’t know what they’re pointing out.

There is another type of gesture that I also like to talk about and especially in a photograph, and that’s a non-human gesture. Non-human gestures can also portray an emotion or communicate an idea.

A list of non-human gestures would include contrast, a recurrence of objects, color, depth, shadows, light, and the element of surprise. Trees, waves in the ocean, flowers, and even rock formations can portray a sense of Gesture. The one idea that connects these objects and is usually necessary to show them in their reality is the use of elegance or grace.

The use of color or light to create a non-human expression is an unwritten language different than the intentional movement created by man or other living creatures. This demonstration of visual expression can be a complex form of communicating ideas and emotions to the viewer. The use of Light to create a non-human gesture can be more difficult since Light is so fleeting that it can come and go in a blink of the eye. When you can anticipate this moment, or quick enough to react, it can imply a sense of movement that will embody the essence of an object.

When you can combine these non-human gestures, with any of the elements of visual design and composition on my Artist Palette I refer to it’s a great way to find that elusive “OMG” photo we all strive to take.

Here are a few examples of non-human gesture:

Visit my website at:, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.

-BPSOP Instructor: Joe Baraban

Joe Teaches:

Stretching Your Frame of Mind I 

Stretching Your Frame of Mind II

The Use of Gestalt in Photography

“I just wanted to thank you for another wonderful class. I have to confess that each week when I read the new assignment, my first reaction was mild panic and a deep certainty that I would not be able to produce anything worthwhile that fit within the parameters you had set. But before I knew it, the ideas started to flow, and I quickly became obsessed (no, that isn’t too strong a word!) with exploring the possibilities. I can honestly say that the photos I produced in response to your assignments are among my favorites. Thanks for bringing out a creative side I didn’t know I had!”

Barbara Geiger
Understanding Color

“Thank you so very much for this course! It’s allowed me to take the blinders off and present my images for what I want them to be without being a slave to the “reality” of the camera. I would also add that in conjunction with your printing course, this has been the most useful course I’ve ever taken. Your notes are more than comprehensive and your comments and critiques are direct, clear, and always directed to the improvement of the art.”

After the click

” I want to thank you for this class and for your patience and availability to answer all of my questions. I have learned very much through this class. I have used LR in the past, but mostly for editing images. I now have a better grasp in the organization of my images, an even better understanding of editing images, and an understanding of the value of presets. I still have a lot to learn, but this has put me on the road to be able to improve my photography. Again, thank you! ”

Dale Yates
Lightroom Quickstart

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