Magazine article Communication World

Finding a Genuine Response: Convey Emotion with Gestures, Body Language and Expressions

Magazine article Communication World

Finding a Genuine Response: Convey Emotion with Gestures, Body Language and Expressions

Article excerpt

Skilled photographers are consistently able to find spontaneous human responses that convey emotion and human values. They find energetic gestures that symbolize meaning and capture body language that may tell us what people are really like. They find expressions that create a mood.

Freelance photojournalist Jim Summaria of Algonquin, Illinois, has been doing just that for organizational publications over the past 20 years. Capturing genuine human responses are Summaria's bread and butter.

To communicate an idea, responses must be genuine--never posed or faked. Sadly, many organizations still routinely employ commercial photographers who use the language of advertising in their imagery. They regard their subjects as props or models, and often drain the vitality and credibility right out of them by asking them to fake a response.

Summaria shot the first two examples shown here. They were speakers at a conference held at the Willow Creek Church in Barrington, Illinois.

In the first example (below), Summaria finds laughter in his lens as a speaker responds to a remark from the audience. Her jaw flies open and hands smash together in a blur. Summaria makes sure to include her flip chart for context. Even though we do not know this woman or what she may be laughing at, Summaria has found a moment that gives us the essence of the human values that make up her personality: vitality, energy, warmth and humor.

In the second example (opposite, top), Summaria photographs a seated speaker jabbing the air with his index finger as he drives home his point. His expression is intense: His mouth forms a word, while his eyes open wide enough to form a series of rhythmic wrinkles on his forehead. Summaria sums up the man's character with this image. It would be hard to argue with this speaker--his sense of self-confidence seems overwhelming, and his attitude projects authority. …

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