Blog #220  8/29/17

Bob Greenberg, Founder, Chairman and CEO of R/GA, making a physical gesture for my camera. This portrait, made for my book “THE VIRTUOSO” ( with Ken Carbone, illustrates how engaging the subject also engages the viewer. R/GA is a pioneer in the advertising and communications field; its work spans 400 feature films and 4,000 television commercials.

In a previous blog (, I discussed and illustrated how the use of hands in a portrait can enhance the image and draw in the observer. In this blog, I expand on the idea, discussing gesture as the main feature. In some of these images, hands lead the gesture, as they so often do in normal conversation, but in other images it is the use of the body that communicates.

These images are, in a way, counter to my ideal of veracity since often the subject attempts actively to communicate something, or hide behind a physical expression, body language, action. All forms of mask, but sometimes very revealing in themselves.

Due to rather severe restrictive osteoarthritis, the late choreographer Merce Cunningham could no longer use his body to dance or express feeling. So he used his hands to express himself physically.

Eric Hoisington, dancer

Mikhail Baryshnikov

Della, at a wedding: my sweet and smart cousin, with a gesture that I’ll leave the reader to interpret.

The facial “gesture” of Cirque du Soleil actor Benedikt Negro, who doesn’t just depend on cleverly supplied face paint.

A Cirque contortionist—an extreme, near impossible gesture; don’t try this at home.

Joan Allen, an elegant face and an equally elegant hands.

Ben Kingsley, perhaps gesture mixed with veracity.

Actor Hope Davis

Geoffrey Rush

Fred Willard

Allison Janney

John Goodman

Chazz Palmintieri

Ken Jeong

David Parsons, choreographer extraordinaire.

Condoleezza Rice

Michael Buffer, ring announcer (“Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” trademarked!)

Michael Olajide, retired boxer.

Shana, at the same wedding: another of my cute cousins.

Virginie, photographer

and some couples gesturing, in their own unique ways.

Eric and Rona, theatrical gesture.

When making a portrait, do direct and freely allow gesture to communicate a message. It is an entertainment, not veracity.