Hands hands and more hands - part 1 of 1

by Phil Jones Published


The 'Mentor me team give advice on some of the finer points which appear more often than not on mentoring submissions. Here we look at hand posing and positioning.

The placement of subject's hands can either emphasise or detract from facial expressions and the overall mood of the image.

Hands naturally express feelings and mood and in an important way help to tell the story of the image. Hands can convey emotion by subtly stoking the face of a loved one to engender a feeling of love and tenderness or by conveying love by say a young child holding a parents finger.

It is also important to realise the differences between posing the masculine hand as apposed to the feminine hand. Whereas a clenched fist my look powerful for a manly study it would be inappropriate for a female portrait.

A relaxed fist can work well with men especially if you incorporate a prop such as a pen or just about anything which is short and slim. This does work particularly well when the hand is placed on the knee or resting on a prop. By bending the wrist can also add to this pose making it appear more casual and credible.

With the female hand you have a wide range of posing options, the general rule is to allow the elbow and wrist to bend, which creates elegant curves and more sympathetic and believable shape.

The feminine touch should be gentle and elegant with the fingers being delicately placed, often raising a finger engenders the grace and often used in ballet or art studies.


Female hands appear smaller when the little finger is nearest the camera lens and if the hands are to be placed above the waist then they should be pointing upwards while below they should point down.

Remember when the back or palm of the hand is directed towards the camera lens it leads the viewers attention away from the mask of the face.

In a close up hiding the hand behind the neck or head can simply the hand pose and generally improve the image. However do take care not to create an amputated look, it is often far better conceal a hand instead of severing it.

When photographing children it is easier to keep their hands busy this can be achieved by getting them to hold an object of some sorts. Props of an appropriate colour and size can enhance the story and while giving impact to an image can keep little fingers occupied.

When posing the bride the hand positioning is critical, the bride should hold the bouquet with one hand with the other one resting on the flowers generally towards the back. The closer the image the more important is the positioning the hands are.

It is generally better for the bride to hold the flowers in her right hand and thus freeing up her more important left which will show the wedding and or engagement ring and will give more opportunities to create images with a strong narrative.

Gentle curves and grace give elegance to hands

A masculine fist works well for men

Bend fingers at joints to create a more sympathetic design

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last update 07/04/2022 09:11:52

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