Many times it is the little things that make a big difference in your photography. And lots of times we don’t even notice these little things despite their importance. When photographing people or animal portraits gesture is a very compositional element of your image.
Gesture is the position of your subjects arms or legs, the tilt of the head, the twist of the body. And the slightest difference can make a big impact on the overall impression of the image. The catch is that gesture is almost so subtle that it goes unnoticed. We spend so much time looking at the subject expression or the background or just trying to get the auto focus bracket where you want it we pay scant attention to the legs, arms, or hands.
Here are two pictures taken moments apart. Whenever I am doing any portraits I shoot in a burst of 6 to 8 images. This assures that I will capture the smallest differences in the gesture.
I found this accordion player on the banks of the Seine in Paris. He was surrounded by a crowd of people and having a good time playing for the people. I went up and put some money into his case and asked quickly if I could take some pictures. He smiled and nodded yes so I knelt down to get to his eye level and took about 45 shot. I kept three. One of all the player, one close up and one teaching close up. The reason I threw out the other 42 was either because his expression wasn’t the best or his hand gesture wasn’t the best. I got about 8 I liked and kept the best 2 (plus the teaching image).
So while you are taking a picture of someone or some animal after you get the background and exposure and perspective all figured out then concentrate on your subjects expression and gesture. It will make all the difference.