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5 things you didn't know about posing hands for portraits. An image of a ballerina dancing

5 Things To Remember When Posing Your Hands for Portraits

Whilst in portraiture the main focus is on your subject’s face and connection, hands can make or break an image. Did you know that unflattering hands will draw attention and can take away from even the most beautiful portrait? You’ve probably noticed that very often we hide our hands when posing for a photo (behind the back, in the pockets, or making a cheesy ‘peace sign’? We try to disguise our lack of confidence with a confidently-looking smile or other facial expression, but awkward and stiff hands will show insecurity. Let’s talk about dos and donts when posing your hands for portraits!

posing hands for portraits: hand poses ideas for more flattering portraits
Model: Megan Ingram
Images taken via FaceTime

Posing hands for portraits: things to remember

1. Relax your hands

First things first! For a gentle and soft feel in your hands you need to relax them. Duh! The initial stress caused by the camera (What to do? Where to put the hands?) will most likely cause your hand being stiff. Shake them off to release any tension in your wrists, click your fingers if you need to, and apply gentle pressure to stretch both your wrists and fingers. Now you’re ready to go!

2. Think “ballet hands”

Have you noticed how soft and graceful ballet dancers’ hands are? You can do it too! Here’s the secret: raise your index finger slightly. This way your middle finger will drop ever so slightly to give your fingers more of a definition and the desired ballet look. Also, don’t forget to relax those wrists!

Ballet hands in portraits - soft and elegant hands inspired by ballet
Ballet dancer Riana Desager

3. Never show the back or inside of your hand straight on to the camera

Our palms are generally quite big, and they look even bigger when they’re flat and straight on to the camera. Also, the inside our palms is quite wrinkly (no matter how old you are!). Imagine a young face against a wrinkly palm. Brr! It’s not flattering. Full stop.

When you are posing with expressive hand gestures, remember, everything in closer proximity to camera lens appears bigger than it really is. So if you already have big hands, what you want to do is to make your hands appear more graceful and petite. That’s why try relaxing your wrists (letting them bend) and turn your hands sideways to the camera. As a result, smaller and more aesthetically pleasing looking hands!

4. Be careful not to press fingers/hands into the skin

It’s such a common resting position placing your head on your hand/fist with a back of your palm facing the camera. While it’s a quite comfortable pose, it’s not a good pose for photos AT ALL.

Instead of resting your head/face on your hand, pretend like you are. You can slightly touch your chin or cheeks, but don’t put any pressure. Try turning your hand to the side and create a little cup around your chin to make the pose more elegant.

Also, when you are trying to frame your face with your hands, be very gentle when you’re touching your face. You don’t want to smudge the make-up or change the shape of your face if you press. If in doubt, pretend to touch your face instead of actually touching it.

5. Tell a story

In any portrait, especially if it’s a close-up image you should give even more attention to hands and their placement. Don’t just fill the negative space of the frame with unnecessary gestures. Think about a story that will add to what is your subject is thinking about, of how they’re feeling. If the hands don’t add anything to the image and the story, get rid of them.

Have you ever struggled to think of poses for a photoshoot? Learn the secret practice for the best poses HERE.

Birmingham fashion photoshoot in the street at night. Birmingham city lights fashion portrait
In the photo: Keena Chobbah

Here’s a BONUS TIP! Wash and moisturise your hands before your photoshoot, and if possible, apply a neutral nail polish to make your hands look fresh and neat. You can read more about Photoshoot Beauty Prep so you are ready to shine!

This is it for this week! I hope you found the post useful and if you have any questions regarding posing hands for portraits, feel free to ask them in the comment section below.

Stay safe!