Shooting Hands and Hand Models

We are already heading into a busy Spring season here in Arizona. These are the best months for weddings, catching up on home renovations, hikes and yard work. That also means this is prime time for businesses to gear up their promos for Spring Sales, events for fun holidays like Easter, and participate in community markets before the heat really sets in. 

Fashion and food bloggers are always needing updated website images, and with the changing seasons, new recipes and fashion statements are always in the works! It's these kind of styled shoots that I really love to experiment with. Each creative has their own target audience, focus and message. Their tastes are all different, but in every brand shoot I find myself doing, there is one constant= hand shots. 

hand modeling

I have wanted to blog about this topic since early last year, and after some recent sessions for creative businesses, I have found myself using what I have learned over the years, making sure the people I am photographing now don't make the mistakes I have already learned from. My success and satisfaction in my own work has increased because I have been able to catch certain mistakes early on, and prevented them from happening altogether. 

These few considerations I will share below are some of the most common things I am reminding myself whenever I am styling and shooting for a business with the use of hand shots/hand models. As a photographer and stylist, I hate going through all of the work preparing for a shoot, and then have something fall apart when it comes to the hand models. I hope these reminders can help you the next time you have a shoot with people holding, wearing or doing something with their hands. 

Manicured hands

Especially if you are shooting for a brand, confirm with the brand owner what their expectations are. For instance, if you will be photographing for a wedding industry-related company, their products will most likely be used by brides/a bridal party/formal occasion, so your hand models will need to be appropriately prepared. Discuss things like nail polish colors (if any), but clear is usually best. Perhaps your client prefers the model have a French manicure and medium-length nails. 

Nail length and color are a deal breaker, so have these details "nailed down" :) before you start shooting with your model. 

Along with manicuring, talk about moisturized hands being happy hands. LOTION is your friend. 

hand modeling


Some people actually have tattoos on their hands/wrists, and this can be a pain to edit out later on. When holding a "casting call" for your models, ask them if they have any arm/wrist/hand tattoos that might get in the way or not communicate the the brand or audience you are shooting for. Also, any jewelry they often wear will most likely need to be removed. This can sometimes also leave behind tan lines that are tricky to edit out. These are all things to consider when shooting with a hand model. 


You may think it isn't important what your hand model is wearing, but in many shots, their body may also be showing. Obviously the clothing they are wearing shouldn't distract or clash with the set-up and items they will be holding. Educate your hand models on how you prefer they dress before they model for your shoot. Avoid clothing with logos, crazy patterns and contrasting colors. You will be telling a story with their hands, but whatever they wear can steal the show if you aren't careful. 

hand modeling


Your fingers should be flexible, naturally bent and your knuckles not rigid. This is what I advise to hand models caressing another person's face, holding a mug or picking up a cupcake. No matter the instance, no one wants to see a big pointer finger jutting out at them when it is supposed to feel natural. 

Bent knuckles, hard angles with our wrists and fingers portray tightness/tension and not the softness we are looking for. 

Another reason we often have stiff hands when holding something is because of the item's weight. Remember, as a hand model, if we are holding a heavy object, it will be evident in stiff fingers. By relaxing our hands, curving the fingers, we can make it look like we are under no strain at all. Even for just a second, relax your hand for the shot and put the item down. 

This can be something to keep in mind when working with kids, because they are very likely to think everything is heavy. You have to coach them, not give them things that are overly big and heavy and be prepared!

hand modeling


Placement & pURPOSE

Remember when you are advising your model, any placement of the hands should have a purpose and thought. Use hands to:

1) Show a motion

2) Demonstrate the use of an item

3) Add a human element to a story line

4) Bring attention to a certain feature or detail of an item

However you have your model hold their hands, whatever they are trying to communicate or bring attention to, their hands need to not distract. Watch the angles at which the item is being held, and the angle of your camera...ask yourself "What is the most flattering angle for this type of shot?"


hand modeling

With every product or styled shoot, your needs will be different. Some items are hard to hold, and some actions are hard to maneuver in a graceful way. With practice, you will find each shoot will be easier. 

If there is any way I can help your needs for creative photography become reality, please contact me and feel free to comment with any new ideas and questions. Thanks for visiting the blog today, and have a great weekend!