Book Review: Light, Gesture & Color by Jay Maisel

by Anthony Morganti

 Light, Gesture, and Color (Voices That Matter) by Jay Maisel

To say that Jay Maisel is one of my favorite photographers would be an understatement. Like a groupie stalking a rock star, I’ve been known to hang around the Bowery District and Lower East Side of New York City hoping I might run into Jay. The odd thing is that I’m over 50 and Jay is over 80 — long past the age of groupies stalking rock stars. Unfortunately I’ve yet to run into Jay and always return downtrodden — my wife just shakes her head and says nothing leaving me not sure if she’s amused, annoyed or contemplating divorce.

So, with that in mind, it’s difficult for me to give an unbiased review but I’ll do my best.

For years, Jay has talked about light, gesture and color explaining that all images have those three elements in them in varying degrees. Light and color are fairly self explanatory whereas gesture is a bit more difficult to explain and understand. In Light, Gesture & Color Jay does a nice job of explaining gesture and how it relates to light and color by using examples of his own work along with stories and anecdotes about what he was seeing when he pressed the shutter.

Similarly to Heisler book that I reviewed a few weeks ago, this book doesn’t have diagrams in it nor are camera settings discussed. The book is about the art of photography and how a master photographer sees.

Personally, I loved the book and enjoyed seeing the world through the eyes of Jay Maisel. I do consider it a book for advanced photographers — those that have already mastered the technical aspects of photography that are shelved on the left side of their brain and are now looking to expand upon the art of photography by spending more time living and working in the right side of their brain. I’m not sure one that hasn’t mastered the technicalities of photography can fully appreciate this book while they’re still being preoccupied with left brain subjects such as f-stops and shutter speeds.

The book is a light read with well over 200 pictures and the material was presented simply and in a straight forward way. It may be a bit esoteric to some but I believe if you give it time as you continue to develop your craft, it will become your most valued book on photography.

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Below is a short video about Jay and in it, he speaks briefly about Light, Gesture and Color.

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