Ten tips for posing hands in portraits you’ll wish you knew sooner

Tips & Techniques

Including hands in the frame when shooting portraits can add to the story and make your portraits more appealing. But if you don’t pose them properly, they are rather a nuisance than useful addition to your image. In this video, Miguel Quiles shares ten useful things for posing hands in portraits to make the best out of your photos.

1. Avoid showing the back of the hand straight on

The back of the hand is the widest part of the hand. Because of this, it could look larger than it actually is in photos, especially if it’s closer to the camera. A slight bend in the wrist or slightly turning the hand away from the camera can make the hand look more aesthetically pleasing. Note that this works for female models, as male models usually don’t mind having their hands look bigger.

2. Avoid showing the inside of the hand straight on

Another thing to avoid showing straight on is the inside of the hands. The reason – it’s a bit wrinkly in most of us, or at least more wrinkled than our faces. Face the hands away from the camera and more towards the light so the light “erases” the wrinkles.

3. Avoid pressing hands and/or fingers into the face or body

If your subject’s hands are visible in the frame and touching face or body, remind your model to be gentle. Pressing hands into face or body leaves a mark and it’s a pain in the neck to retouch later. Plus, it can smudge makeup, too.

4. Moisturize hands and make sure they’re clean

Here’s a simple one – make sure that your model’s hands are moisturized before the shoot. You can either remind the model to bring the moisturizer or just keep it in your gear bag so it’s always at hand (no pun intended). Also, remind your model to take care of their hands before the shoot: this means clean nail beds, no hangnails, and tidy nail polish.

5. Watch out for “rebels”

You know that finger in the frame that has “a mind of its own?” Pay attention to these as you shoot and direct your subject to apply necessary corrections when you notice that one of the fingers is rebelling against others.

6. Use the “Karate Chop” method

Here’s a simple, but a powerful tip – remember how you should avoid showing the front and the back of the hands straight on? A simple turn of the wrist will show the blade of the hands and make them look more appealing. Remind your model to turn the hands so they can do a “karate chop.”

7. Make sure to match skin tones of hands and face

Sometimes, hands may have a different skin shade than the face. The makeup artists will make the corrections on set. However, if you don’t work with a makeup artist, be prepared to put a little bit of extra work in post and match the skin tones of hands and face.

8. Hands in the frame should “tell a story”

Hands are not supposed to just dangle in the frame. They need to add to the story, to the subject’s feelings, and to the message you want to convey. If they can’t contribute to any of these – leave them out of the frame.

9. & 10. Avoid “dead hand” by resetting pose often

Tips 9 and 10 kinda go together, so Miguel presents them this way. He explains that when you try to come up with new ideas for portraits, you could overthink stuff and forget to pose hands. As a result, hands in the frame can end up looking completely lifeless, and this is something to pay attention to.

If this happens, direct your model to either reset the pose completely or if everything else looks fine, to reset the hand pose.

Do you apply these hand posing techniques in your portraits? Are there any other you’d like to share? Feel free to write them in the comments.

[10 Useful Tips For Posing Hands in Portraits You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner! | Miguel Quiles]

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