Pose your hands for a better portrait effect

When I first began studying photography in college, I had no ambition to become a portrait photographer. The amount of effort required to engage with subjects, posture them, and get an impactful shot was overwhelming. A few years later, I understood that the best work skill for portraiture was empathy. Once I leaned in and sensed the vibe in the room, making connections with individuals was quite simple. Once we established a connection, the tricky part was figuring out how to guide them into a natural-looking stance. Learning how to hold hands in a natural manner was an even bigger challenge.

It turns out that folks on both sides of the camera have trouble with their hands. In a picture, everything can be going according to plan. The only thing spectators will notice, however, is if the hands are tense or confused. Keeping the hands at your sides or putting them in your pockets is a simple fix. In addition to leaving a lot on the table, this simple repair. Your portrait work may be improved by learning effective methods to use hands in the composition.

The majority of the time, hands will be soft no matter where they are. Tension results from any stress in the hands. Here are some pointers to help you pose your hands more easily.

Summary of Contents

Sitting on a Stool, a Chair on Steps, or an Apple Box
Utilize Your Environment When Standing and Have Someone Do Something
Final thoughts on beauty photography

When your customers are seated, help them become comfortable. Take note of where their arms are often positioned. Do they lay one hand in their lap while leaning on the armrest on the other side? Are both of their hands in their pockets, or is one arm resting on the backrest? The beginning of your initial stance will often become clear if you pay close attention to these things. Usually, just a little softening of the hands is needed, whether they are placed in the lap or next to the back and armrests. If the hands aren’t cooperating, ask them to gently clench their fingers together.

It’s simple to ask them to raise their palm to their forehead from here. Select the option that best fits your subject’s comfort level and appears natural. Ask for delicate hands with gently extended fingers. Everything looks fantastic. If their hands won’t cooperate, instruct them to gently fist and tilt their palms towards the direction of the camera.

Men who want to enhance their jawline should place their thumb on the chin. Most women will often be asked to place a hand to the side or beneath their chin. The index finger being extended in the direction of the mouth is a particular favorite. This works for both sexes and gives the spectator a sense of closeness.

Ask the customer to raise their hand toward the ceiling if they have a terrific watch or amazing clothing detailing. A delicate fist, softly stretched fingers, or a mix of the two are all acceptable hand postures. The ideal way to align their hand with the camera is at an angle. The pinky will be closest to the camera if you are shooting straight. If you are shooting them from the side for an over-the-shoulder position, you should direct the back of the hand.

They might also bend forward and rest their elbows on their thighs. When directing males, keep magazines like GQ in mind. Frequently, you may ask them to create the letter A or a fist and then wrap the other hand over it.

A stool, a step, or an apple box.
If your customer is seated on some steps, the most of these cues will operate without a hitch. You may accentuate the feeling of calm or boost the ante. Demand that they put one hand in their pocket. Request that they place their other hand on the step above them or in their lap.

Your client will find it easier to follow instructions and position their hands when they are seated on an apple box or a stool. You can only point them in a limited number of directions. With one leg stretched and the other gently tucked in, they may be made comfy. Both hands in pockets, both hands on the thighs, or one of each are acceptable directions. They may also bend forward while resting their arms or hands on their thighs.


A client may do a standing stance by placing one hand in their pocket and the other by their side. Women should be asked to place one hand on their hip. Keep in mind that, despite how it may seem, crossing one’s arms is simple. Men are socialized to project an air of confidence and approachability, in our opinion. Society conveys to women that they are distant or difficult to approach. So in this situation, it’s crucial to use gentler hands while dealing with ladies.

You may tell them to laugh and put both hands by their faces. You may also ask your client to lift their hands up toward their forehead or on top of their head once they feel comfortable moving.

When your customer is standing, make the most of your surroundings. Have them lean against the wall with one hand at their chin or forehead and one arm in their pocket. Select a delicate fist with the palm towards the camera or a soft hand with fingers outstretched. Another option is to cross one forearm over the forehead, palm up. Another alternative is to cradle the side of their neck with the hand that is closest to the wall. This will give the atmosphere a little more sexiness.

Use a window that tilts in if one is available. For a calm feeling, have your client gently rest against it while holding out their arm. For a different mood, ask them to raise their hand to their chin or forehead.

Have them do some action.
By having their hands engaged in something, you may add some movement or motion to an otherwise static photograph to give it new life. It might be as easy as rubbing their fingers together while holding both hands together. Interaction always lifts the spirits and adds a little of their individuality.
Request a tip or hat adjustment from the customer. Men should be instructed to adjust their watch, tie, collar, button-up shirt, and even sleeve cuffs. Women should be encouraged to playfully glance aside while running their fingers through their hair or pretending to apply lip gloss with the middle finger. Let them play with their clothes and have fun, particularly if they are wearing dresses.

Both men and women use their hands for beauty work. You’ll note the hands are virtually always soft, whether it’s one hand or two. Only when the face expression and hairstyle are intense enough to match the mood can stressed hands operate. It makes little sense in any other case.

When posing hands, it’s a good idea to practice asymmetry. Ask your client to place one hand on their forehead and the other one to hold their neck softly. If you want both hands up by the face and a smile that would make toothpaste commercials happy, have them tilt their heads. For a more personal portrayal of beauty, you may also use both the front and back of the hand.
One may provide instructions by putting their hand with the index finger up by their forehead, on their neck, and under their jaw. To prevent their hand from squashing your face, emphasize how delicately you touched them. Use your client’s hands to draw attention to their jawline at this point. Men will be instructed to softly massage their fingers on their chin, while women will be instructed to pretend to apply lip gloss.


Your photographs will become better if you know how to posture hands in pictures and how to guide them properly. Pay attention to when they feel at ease and take advantage of that moment. Playing up their comfort level can simplify things considerably. Maintain natural stances and directions as well for a more natural experience. When leading others, it’s common for folks to carry tension in their hands. When they repeat a stance, they sometimes get tight. Simply ask them to shake their hands and begin over if this occurs.

During a picture session, I often go through each of these areas in turn. It aids in capturing the general attitude and emotion you want to convey to your consumers. Describe the feeling and emotions that go with the stance you’re attempting. As they are being counted down, ask them to hit it all at once. When everything comes together, it could take a few attempts to strike it, but it will be worthwhile.

To enhance your customer communication, continue to practice with your clients. This will soon come naturally to you and aid in your success as a filmmaker. It will benefit your portraiture to have this skill set at your disposal.

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