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Monday, January 28, 2013

Hands...what to do with them?

Hello to all my photographer fans out there.
I am going to attempt (big emphasis on the word attempt) to do a post once a month that might give some tips and tricks to use on your next shoot.  Maybe I will do more than one a month but for now..that's what I am saying I can do.

So today we are going to talk about the art of posing hands.
Hands are tricky. Clients always feel awkward when it comes to hands.   I don't know how many times I've been asked "what do I do with these?" {holding hands up awkwardly} I always reassure clients not to worry.

So here's some tips on posing hands.

Is your client wearing anything with pockets?  If so use them.  HOWEVER be careful how you use them. Shoving a whole hand in a pocket will look wrong and look like they are 1. cold 2. handless.

Check out these examples of various use of pockets

Thumb in pocket

Thumb in pocket while other hand is holding on to something or resting on something

both thumbs in pockets

Only put an entire hand in a pocket if the elbow can be bent.  If the elbow is not bent it will look stiff. 

both hands in pockets, but you can see tops of hands and elbows are bent

notice his hand.  It is in his pocket, but you can see the top of his hand, plus a slight bend in the elbow

notice the hand placements.  Thumbs in pockets.  

both hands in pockets, but bent elbows

Notice his free hand.  His thumb is in his pocket.  A relaxed hand with a thumb in the pocket can look fabulous without looking cowboy.

Again, another thumb in pocket.

One of my favorite things to do with girls/women is to encourage them to play with their hair. 

There's so many ways you can have them play with their hair.
You can ask them to pull it in a ponytail (high or low).
You can have them tuck their hair behind their ear or brush it out of their face.
You can have them twirl their hair in their fingers or straighten there hair down the front. 

Try it yourself.  Go to the mirror and put on your best picture face and play with your hair.  You will see what I mean.  The client may feel odd at first, but will begin to relax. 

Tip: Make sure when having them 'tuck' their hair that they keep a relax hand.  

Tell her "move your hair to the side."

Although she is not playing with her hair, her hand is in her hair.  This is a great pose while leaning up against something.

I asked her to play with her hair in a downward motion

This was a 'push your hair back, by the ends"

Here is an example of tucking hair behind the ear. 

This is a "fluff up your hair" option

Twisting hair.

Pulling hair into a ponytail.  When doing this make sure one elbow is up and one is down.

Hair tuck.

Hair play is great for windy days.  This I was just encouraging her to keep her hair down.  

Here is a "brush" or "push your hair back from the front/top"

"Pull your hair away from your face"

Another pull the hair away from the face

This was another "play with your hair in a downward motion"

Another pose I love to do is hand to the chest.  Not a boob grab.  
I love doing this pose when I am trying to emote a specific feeling.  You can use this pose for laughter, peace, and romance.
See what I mean in these images.

This is a great pose into direct light.  Have the client close their eyes and breath in the sunshine.  

One hand to chest, touching necklace, scarf, or jacket.  


You can do this with couples.  Have her bring her hands to her chest and have him hug her. 

One hand.

The next pose to do with hands can go horribly wrong if you don't execute it right and it will look like a 1990's glamour shot.  
It is hands to chin.  
Take a look at ways you can do this without looking like 1989's senior yearbook picture. 

HOLD ON.... No I'm not telling you to hold on, I am telling to to tell your clients to hold on.  
This is probably the easiest way to keep hands busy especially with children.  By giving them something to touch or hold it will make them feel less awkward.  You may have a prop you would like to use or you can have them even hold or use their clothing.  

Notice him holding the railing and leaning into her.  
Both hands resting on the railing

Holding neckline for brides is flattering. 

Playing with clothing


Give them something to hold


Holding onto jewlery

Using your location.

Use your location

Lean into it.  The reason I am including this into this blog post is because I think this is a helpful way to make hands look natural even if they aren't doing anything and that is to lean into something.
You can have your client lean into a fence or a wall or even lean into another person.
If you are having them lean into something with bent elbows their hands will naturally fall into a natural position.  I even use this when I have them sit.  Have your client rest into their legs.

Resting into knees.  You can cross arms, or you can even bring hand up to hair or chin for a variation. 

Rest into a fence

Resting into props

See the hand has more of a relaxed look when resting into the fence?

Again, relaxed

lean into knees

Having children rest into their knees will keep their hands in their lap and not all over the place

And to finish it off don't forget to fold it up!
Folded arms while resting against something or while turned to the side is a great option.
Along with this pose is the clasped hands pose.  They can clasp hands in their middle or dropped down.

Now I know that there are a million other things you can do with hands and a variety of variations, but when you get stuck remember a few of these and you'll feel a little more confident when a client asks "what do I do with these"


  1. Fabulous! Thank you for posting this! So amazing (:

  2. Wonderful, that helps alot. Thank you :)

  3. Love your blog and LOVE your actions!

  4. This was such a great post!!!!! I love your work!!!