Elizabeth Halford Photography {the blog} » photography in plain English

Posing 101 – 4 tips for posing hands

*click here for yesterday’s post in this series*


So after three days of talking about posing in a very general sense, I’ll spend today getting down to the nitty gritty. Today, we’re talking about hands.

Posing hands is a touchy subject (har har) because hand placement can be a make or break for your portrait. If you get a subject to be completely calm and collected, their hands may betray them and show their real feelings if they’re anxious or nervous. Gripping too tight, making a fist without realising it, inadvertently flipping the bird…these things can mess up a shot and because we don’t always pay too much attention to the hands, it can often be too late by the time you notice it.

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Women – For women, hands look the most feminine from the side. When seated, hands rested gently on the thigh or holding onto a collar is pretty. Gripping a fence and leaning forward can be super appealing. Basically, anything that keeps the hands soft and on view from the side is optimal. Even better if it’s the pinky finger side of the hand as this makes them appear smaller. But -and of course there’s a ‘but’-rules can be broken nicely.I think this image —> is a pretty good example of feminine hands that aren’t shot from the side. But it’s always good to keep in mind.

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Men – Strong hands are a beautiful aspect of the male species. Try these: while standing, prop a foot up (think: cowboy) and rest one arm on the knee, allowing the hand to relax in a loose fist (I wish I had an example to show you). Or the good old leaning forward in a chair with the armsresting as in this shot —> A few keys to remember:for men, a loose fist is nice. Not too aggressive, but also not feminine. Hands in pockets I love for men or boys.
Children – It’s not easy to pose children’s hands as you would an adult. Give them something to hold or an action to do. I find that posing their arms is best and the hands will follow suit. Exe: hands on hips, in pockets, on knees, under chin, etc. When posing hands near the face, make sure they’re not squeezing their face or pushing their cheeks in. I think the image on the right is a great shot of a gentle hands-on-face pose that doesn’t squish the face.

In general - If you aren’t yet comfortable posing hands, you can just hide them! In pockets, behind the head, but take care not to amputate them and don’t crop a shot below the elbow or you will sever the arm in a way that looks harsh. As with any pose, it has to look good and make sense, naturally! You can keep hands looking relaxed by keeping the fingers separated.

Don’t let hands stump you. As with any posing, it just takes practice and experimentation. Look back on your work so far and I’ll bet you find loads of shots where the hands look awesome and you didn’t even notice it! You’ll also probably find some pretty funny hand gestures if you go looking.