This was the first time I had photographed a presenter giving a workshop in sign language. Those who know American Sign Language (ASL) can guess what Dr. Dennis Cokely was talking about. Those who don't know ASL-- well, they can have even more fun guessing. I don't want to give away the content of his workshop to those who know ASL; rather, I encourage them to take his workshop themselves! As for those who don't know ASL, there would be so much lost in translation if I simply said, "Dr. Cokely is signing X," that I would be guilty of oversimplifying his message. And his workshop "Interpreting Culturally Rich Realities" is all about not oversimplifying any interpretation! I thank Dr. Cokely for his permission to photograph him as he worked.
I will say this much about this photo. Dr. Cokely repeatedly asked the question, "and then my job is done?" to challenge the approach of hearing a sign and saying a word, as if one English word could fully convey the meaning of one ASL sign. As a photographer, I studied Dr. Cokely's rhetorical devices so that I would be prepared with my camera to capture him at the very moment when he would repeat one of his themes. As an instructor, he was very deft at using repetition to drive home a point.