10 Helpful Tips for Posing Hands in Portraits


In his most recent video, portrait photographer Miguel Quiles decided to tackle what we’ll call the “Ricky Bobby” problem: what do you do with your [model’s] hands? After years of trial and error, Quiles has come up with 10 “hacks” or tips that have helped him conquer this issue.

Jokes aside, posing hands is one of those challenges most novice portrait photographers don’t think of until they slam right into it. They might not even notice it’s an issue until they’re looking at a full session in post and realize that many of the images just look “wrong” somehow. Quiles’ tips should help avoid this, and once you’ve internalized them, you’ll be able to use them (or purposely ignore them) without even thinking about it.

Here are all 10 tips in list form for those of you who want a TL;DW, but we highly recommend watching the full video to hear Quiles’ reasoning behind each tip:

  1. Avoid showing the back of the hand straight-on, especially for female subjects.
  2. Avoid showing the inside of the hands, especially when shooting a tightly cropped portrait.
  3. Avoid having the subject press their fingers or hands into their face or body. A light touch is always better.
  4. Moisturize the hands and make sure they’re clean. Obvious, but worth repeating.
  5. Watch out for out-of-place “rebellious” fingers that have a mind of their own.
  6. Use the “karate chop” method to emphasize the narrower, more appealing “blade” of the hands.
  7. Try to match the skin tones of the hands and face whenever possible.
  8. Hands in your frame should “tell a story.” Don’t include hands just to include them.
  9. Avoid “dead hands.” This happens when a tired model forgets to pose their hand.
  10. Reset the pose often. This will help avoid those “dead hands” from tip 9.

And since this is a photography blog, here are a few sample photos from Quiles that show what happens when you put all 10 of these tips into practice:

Portrait photographers: do these tips track with your experience behind the camera? Do you have anything to add? Let us know in the comments. And once you’re done, head over to Quiles’ website, Instagram, or YouTube channel for more useful tips and photography inspiration.

Credits: Photos by Miguel Quiles and used with permission. Model Masumi Yamada.

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