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HANDS in Photography

by Editor Lourens Durand
Published the 13th of September 2021 

Hands are important subjects in portrait photography.

Depending on how they are approached they could either make or break a photo.


'Sorana' by Mihai Bogdan R

In portrait and glamour photography, it is considered prudent not to have the model clenching his or her fist or to display hands that resemble claws.  Showing the back of hands or even the palms make the hands look bigger, so it is best to emphasize the narrower side of the hands for the most part. Hands that are too close to the camera run the risk of distorting perspective and gross foreshortening of the model.

In this type of photography, hands need to be doing something to prevent them looking clumsy and out of place. Common ways for models to overcome clumsy, rigid-looking hands include:

* Playing with the hair
* Touching the face softly
* Hanging arms naturally downwards
* Playing with cuffs or sleeves
* Hands on hip to create a triangle with the body
* Holding a jacket over one shoulder
* Playing a musical instrument
* Playing with props

Whatever the case, the hands must appear to be natural, not forced. At the same time, the hands should reflect the mood of the photo.

Advice often given for portraiture or glamour shots is that the model try moving slowly, softly and smoothly between shots, almost dancing, using the hands to emulate those of ballet dancers.

On the flip side, hands can be posed to accentuate drama: a rigid hand with the index finger extended can suggest power and leadership, whilst a curled, soft hand could indicate frailty.

The way that hands are posed and photographed can support the portrayal of age, hard work, artistry and music, despair, or welcoming new life.

Here is a selection of works from 1X photographers illustrating some of the many approaches to the placement and portrayal of hands.

Lourens Durand


'Anne' by Carine Belzon






'Il sogno' by Roberta Nozza



'White room story llc' by ATodea



'a walk' by Olga Mest



'negin' by Mehdi Mokhtari



'Painter' by Peter Davidson



'They say it's the Sousaphone players you have to look out for...' by Kirk Cypel



'Slinging dreadlocks' by Gerard Jonkman



'Anna' by Antonio Girlando



'On Pointe' by Darlene Hewson



'Dreams on My Window' by Kaan Altindal



'More music please' by Marco Antonio Cobo



'Mrs Flat's Predicament' by Koen Pieters



The perfectionist' by Mandru Cantemir



'hands & eyes' by Aldo Cicelyn



'Worries' by Adrian Popan



'Hands' by Mohammadreza Momeni



'Purpose' by mea



'Prayers' by Piet Flour



'the little girl and herself' by Piet Flour



'hands' by Nikolay Dinov



'Tender' by Prateek Dubey



'Sweet yawn' by Mike Kremer



'Anima mundi' by adalena



'Love' by Martin Krystynek

GREAT article, I learnt so much. The most beautiful photos. Thanks you Lourens.
Thanks Marita
Fine presentation with some great photos. Love it. Thanks for share with the world. Wish you blessed work. From TheJar
Fine presentation with some great examples. Though missing hands touches of strangers.
Fine presentation with some great examples.