Skip to main content

Micro Gesture

Lesson 13 from: Powerful Portraits using Body Language and Lighting

Stacy Pearsall

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >


Lesson Info

Micro Gesture

Ah, haven't I picked on yet? Are you ready to be picked on now? Leave your notebook right on your chair. Come on up. (participants chuckling) (Stacy giggles) I'm Stacy! Denise. Denise, very nice to meet you. Have a seat right here. Denise? Yes. Where you from? Massachusetts. Wow. (laughter) You don't have a Massachusetts accent though. Well, I'm originally from Connecticut. I always thought Connecticut was a weird... I always, like, Connec-Cut-Ticut. (participants giggle) What part of Connecticut? Stratford. But even you don't have a New England accent. What happened? I don't know. (chuckles) Do you have still family there? Yes. OK. And they're still in Stratford, Connecticut, or Massachusetts? Close by and still in Connecticut. We're the only ones in Massachusetts. So you're like, "I love you, family, "but I gotta put a continent between us?" Well, we had to go for education 'cause my son has Asperger's, so we needed to get a better education system...

for him. OK, so tell me about your son. He's 13, loves video games, hates everyone else. So. (laughs) And how are you coping with that? Just jumping into my work, and just kinda making sure he's safe. What is your work? Photography. OK, so you're doing this full time. What type of photography are you doing? Wedding and families. All right, and how is having your son with special needs impacting your career? Well, I find that it allows me time to take care of him and be there for him and then work when I need to. Do other people understand your struggle, you think? I think my husband does the most. I'm a little guarded about it because it's a disability, and people look at it and I think they, they either feel sorry for you, they don't understand it completely, or they do understand completely, which is kinda nice. OK, and for those who don't really understand it, what would you like to tell 'em? Every day's a struggle. Things may seem good at times, but there's always that worry that he'll never be normal, that he'll always be kind of a loner, which is scary for me. Why? Because I enjoy being around people, and I don't quite understand him completely. I thrive off the energy of my friends and my family, and he really seems completely disinterested. So how do you cope with that? I try to engage with him, which is extremely frustrating because alls he wants to do is play video games and shoot and kill people. (chuckles) And I don't understand it. And a lot of it is, it's almost like a roller coaster. Like there's that thrill, but it makes me really scared. It makes me scared that, by shooting and killing people all day long on your video games, what does that bring you to as an adult? And what do you see him, in his adult life, how do you envision his... What would be ideal for him? Or how do you envision him as an adult without you, for instance? I think as an adult, he's probably gonna be alone, like living in a house alone, maybe with pets. I don't know that he would actually be in a relationship with a person because he has no interests, which, if that's what he's happy with, that's OK. But that's not really what you, when you have children, that's not really what you see for them. What do you see for him? I would love to see him in a family with a couple kids. Suburbs, big house, cats, dogs all around, that type of thing. But I don't know that that's ever gonna happen, and that's a little scary. Do you feel as a parent that you're gonna miss out being a grandparent in the long run? Well, I have a daughter as well. And I know that she's outgoing, and she's typical and she's amazing. She understands his disability as much as a 10-year-old can. So I think that's going to give us kind of what we need as grandparents and things. So you think she's gonna have kids, or does she-- Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. She's already told me. She's gonna have two kids (Stacy laughs) and cats. (laughs) And what if your son surprises you and does end up getting a family? Oh, I'd be thrilled. I'd be thrilled. But it's all about setting expectations with him. Honestly, if he doesn't have kids, and he doesn't have a family, and he's happy, that's all that really matters. But we'll see what happens. Cool. Thank you for being so revealing. Yeah, absolutely. And sharing your story. My question to you is, during the course of our conversation, did you feel any anxiety? I always have anxiety about, yeah, about that. And did you feel your emotions shift when you were talking about your son, too, and when you were talking about yourself and then to your daughter, did you feel that happening? I did, yeah. Did everybody notice the difference? (murmurs of agreement) These are micro gestures. So the cause and concern was wearing on your face, and you didn't wear it the whole time. It was just really fleeting. And that sort of emotion is the kind of emotion that scares us, the kind that we want to keep tamped down because if we open it, it's a floodgate. Right. That's when the crying starts, and that's when our true emotions are worn on our sleeves. And we don't wanna burden other people with our feelings. We certainly don't want other people to notice that we're vulnerable. But it's these micro gestures that are the true essence of an individual. Really, really the most revealing part. So when you're baring your soul, and you're talking to somebody, and you're engaging them in conversation, and it's heartfelt, those micro gestures will leak through. It's those that really the kind that you wanna capture. If we go back to the beginning and the start of the segment, I talked about the 10-Frame Methodology. When capturing micro gestures, the 10-Frame Methodology is paramount. Having the camera at your face, engaging in that conversation, and preparing to capture those 10 variant micro gestures, those 10 variant moments because you showed at least, in my opinion, a range of 20 different emotions. Hesitancy, anxiety, joy, happiness, maybe a little trepidation, concern. Maybe even a little bit of inspiration 'cause the moment you talked about your husband, your brows changed quite a bit, like you lifted a little, even your posture came up. All of those micro gestures, did everybody see that when that happened, too? (murmurs of agreement) Good. Well, I'm gonna give you a hug. Oh. (chuckles) 'Cause I really appreciate you being so vulnerable. Absolutely. Thank you. Everybody give her a hand for me. (applause) Micro gestures. Sudden leaks of emotion. Unexpected, honestly. They happen, and they leak from us all the time. When we're photographers, and we're capturing somebody's essence, these are the most critical, aside from preparing a body posture and body language, the expression that one wears on their face is, basically, their soul on their sleeve. And once it happens, it's instantaneous. You've gotta be on your toes, engaged, ready, in the moment, present of mind, and watching. And through that observation and that emotional connection that you're making, you're allowing that safe space through your own body language and your own energy, which I'll talk about later, to be able to allow these micro gestures to happen. Are there any questions regarding what we covered in this segment? Yes. This may come up later, but engaging in the conversation, I'm a very eye contact person. So my question is, how do you still capture that with the camera in your face? Right, so remember when I talked about making the camera a part of who you are when you're in that initial introductory phase? You're gonna have that camera on your face, and imagine just you're making that eye contact through your lens. And if you need to, and I'll talk about this a little later, but I say, "You know what? "Thank you so much for being so vulnerable "and sharing your story with me. "I'm just gonna keep testing my camera while we talk "'cause I really wanna make sure "that I'm listening to you and engaging you, "but don't worry about this particular part. "I'm with you, this is my eye. "I've got my eye on you." And then it becomes an extension of your eye contact. That lens is, they're looking down your lens. Now, all of a sudden, you have eye contact bearing down into the picture, and that's what translates through each and every portrait. Those moments of eye aversion? Those are moments, too. That, this is too tough for me to talk about, when the eyes close. When we're thinking and recalling, and we're visualizing. All of those are moments. Just look at those small leaks of emotion. Yeah. I have a question. You mentioned that you have the camera on you when you greet the client and when you have a photo session. What I find that works for me is I have it on a tripod so I can walk around the camera and talk to the person, but I can't greet the person with my camera because were using a tripod. So do you have a preference, or should I hand holding it? I am a free spirit, I gotta roam. I feel like, for me, and it doensn't work for me. Everybody's different. It doesn't mean tripods are wrong. For me, tripods are too finite and stationary. If I feel like, on a whim, I want to get right up in there, be like... But I don't wanna miss moments. I want my camera to be as agile and mobile as me. I want it to be there with me. It's always a part of me. It's not a fixture in the studio. It's an extension of who I am. Does that make sense? Questions? I do. So this one is from Christopher, who says, "If you can't relate to a person's experiences, "how do you bridge the gap "and have a conversation with someone?" Good question. What was the individuals name? Christopher. Christopher. Christopher, we in the society. We don't always have stories that are similar or the same; however, emotions are emotions, and we can relate to those emotions. I don't have a special needs child, but I can, as a mother, empathize with what you're feeling. I can almost put myself in your shoes for a second, and say, "OK, I can imagine what that struggle would be like." That's relatability. And you're not gonna say, "Oh, I get you. "I know how that feels." That's an utter lie because I'm not in your shoes, but what I can say is, "Damn, that's a struggle. "And I really appreciate and value "all that you've given up for your son "and to make this trek across the country "'cause that's what's best for him. "It really says a lot about your character, "and I appreciate and value that." That connectivity is what really makes the difference. I don't have to have the same experience in order to be able to empathize and relate. And we're gonna talk about that in the next segment.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Gear List

Bonus Materials with Purchase

The Foundations of Light (PDF)
The Accents of Light (PDF)

Ratings and Reviews

Julie V

I had the chance to sit in the audience and absolutely loved this class! First of all, Stacy is very funny and is really good at explaining and showing examples of the body language. I loved learning about how to read people faces and body to know more about them. And recommended the class to my husband who is a therapist for this reason. The other part of the class was so awakening, I never really thought about how having the wrong lighting for someone's personality would bring something off on the picture. Once again, Stacy was amazing at explaining why this lighting would work with one person and not another by showing us examples. If you want to bring your subject personality into life on photos, I highly recommend this class!

a Creativelive Student

This class is amazing! Stacy is an awesome person and listening to her teach and review the class concepts was so easy and fun and entertaining! It is jam packed with information on how to connect with talent and clients. Plus you get to see Stacy in action with subjects in the Demo and Shoot videos. I highly recommend this class! I learned so much and feel so much more comfortable and confident working with a variety of people now.

Jovi Jhash

wow, what an amazing class to learn from. you covered all from body language to storytelling and to reveal almost the true souls of the subjects through portraits. Amazing work and thank you so much, Stacy and creative live team. Stay blessed

Student Work