Separation and Gesture

Culling through an amazing amount of imagery after a long day of shooting can be a daunting task.

Whether on a long weekend or on an extended trip, we all go through this in one form or another. You may have one image that you remember on a shoot, that was particularly eventful that sticks in your mind.

You quickly go to that one shot as soon as you upload your images. You look at it and you’re not quite sure why it sings louder than the rest.

Chances are, you’re catching something with good separation and gesture. There could be a number of things for study in your photo if you’re not already conscious of this theory.

For example, if it’s a wildlife photo, it might be an engaging turn of a head or sweep of the wing or splash of water that attracts attention. You might’ve also made good eye contact with the animal as well. This is always important for a striking wildlife photograph, in addition to a great background that has a strong relationship to your image.

Your photo is balanced and doesn’t cause any visual stress and makes a strong statement all in one shot! You most likely have a few others on this particular shoot that come close but don’t quite make it.

If it’s a landscape photograph, you might’ve captured a strong separation between the mountains and the trees and not overlapped your image’s features. This is good. In addition, you don’t want to be cutting tree trunks in half along the edges of your frame leaving your viewer straining to see more of the story in your capture.

It’s always tempting to include less than perfect photos that don’t quite make it into your portfolio or post multiple images on social media along with that one particular perfect shot.

My suggestion is to hold back, don’t feel you have to include every associated photo. This will bring down that great one and expose a weakness in your overall portfolio.

Be happy, you have successfully constructed a good story in one shot, whether this was intentional or not. Careful study of this one successful capture will save you much time in future outings and be a learning tool to build on.

You’ll find yourself contemplating more about what you’re doing before pushing the button. Use your viewfinder, not live view as your composition stage. Carefully add your supporting actors and have that obvious leading role shine with good separation and gesture throughout!

All the best,

Mark Jansen

Explore with us this summer on one of our photography expeditions and learn more about separation and gesture from us first hand!

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Mark’s interest in photography and love for landscape photography draws him into some amazing places and he freely shares this knowledge on his photography workshops. He researches his subjects extensively, making many trips to selected areas waiting for the perfect light, an interesting approach to the subject, and just the right moment. His goal of "freezing time for others to enjoy" is what drives him to create his visions and teach workshops.

Mark offers photographic workshops in numerous U.S. and International locations with his business, Jansen Photo Expeditions. He is an expert and personable instructor, expedition leader and award winning, visionary photographer. 

Mark has over 25 years of professional fine art and photographic experience. He has a passion for landscape and classic aviation photography and provides large scale commercial installations of his fine art photographic murals and print works throughout California. He works with both small and large corporate businesses in helping them project a powerful impact through his images.


About Mark and Holly
Mark and Holly Jansen
Jansen Photo Expeditions
(805) 701-8807 or


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