Before we get started if you haven't reviewed How to Handle HANDS Part I you can do so by clicking here.
Seriously, try it. Tell your model to relax her hands at her side and just keep them relaxed... dead hands. Watch her for 30 seconds as she begins to make claws with her fingers and in some cases winds up with loose fists.
The moral here is that you have to be careful about how much you actually discuss hands with your subject. Too much discussion and you will find your subject concentrating more on her hands than on her facial expressions.
If you are trying to build your portfolio, consider working with dancers whenever possible. Part of the training process for dancers is elegant hands. If you are not fortunate enough to find a dancer to work with, simply tell your subject that she should think like a ballerina and hold her hands elegantly. Nine times out of ten the girl will at least show an improvement in hand posture simply by trying her version of what a ballerina does.
If you are shooting a close-up portrait or beauty shot you need to pay even greater attention to the hands.
Often times the best way to position the hands is to do it yourself. While this does break the "don't touch the model" rule, it is the social equivalent of a handshake and is rarely found offensive. Just be sure to tell your model what you are intending to do – before you do it.
As you can see in the example above, you will generally want to keep the pinky and ring fingers closest to the camera, as this is the smaller and thinner side of the hand.
There are always exceptions (hence – NO RULES!). If you have a subject with long and thin fingers a pose like the one above will allow you to use the thumb or index finger closer to the camera lens.
As I mentioned in Part I, I am to tell my subjects that they must show up with well-groomed nails. Simple clear coat or French Tipped is best. No Colors or Designs unless you want that you be the focus of the photo.
The model in this set of photos is wearing glue-on fingernails that you can purchase at any drugstore for under $7.00 for two sets of nails. As long as they are applied properly it is virtually impossible to tell them apart from real nails.
Frequently when we see shots of models resting their heads on their hands we will see natural things like in the photo below. The model is really resting her head on the hand and it is natural for her to show is the back of her hand which gives it a masculine feel.
As you can see below, turning the hand with the pinky closest to the camera improves the pose slightly
Opening the fingers and staggering the tip provides even more elegance and makes the pose more interesting. As you can see, there are MANY variations. You are really only limited by your creativity.
Add in a talented makeup artist as a collaborator and be sure to try many options and you will find that the sky is the limit.
Be sure to watch the video for more variations on the above set-up as well as the finished shot.
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• A woman's hands should be graceful and elegant
• Avoid hard angles and claws
• Show the pinky side of the hand to the camera – it is the thinner side
• Have your model hold a prop for more natural looking hands
• Posing hands is a collaboration – don't be afraid to manipulate your models hands
• Hands on the hips is a Modeling School pose
• Don't break the wrists
• If the model folds her arms – make sure you see both hands
• Glue-on fingernails work well in a pinch
• Dancers do "good hands"
• If your model is not a dancer – tell her to pretend she is.
One last tip:
If you are working with a subject that is over the age of 30 you need to understand that as a woman gets older the skin on the backs of her hands gets thinner.
If you have your subject stand for any period of time with her hands down, the veins fill up with blood and get larger and darker. This makes her hands look MUCH older than they really are.
Every few minutes, have her raise her hands above her shoulders to let the blood drain out. Paying attention to this and taking the few extra seconds to drain the blood will save you hours of retouching time in Photoshop.
© Joe Edelman
In next months installment of To Pose Or Not To Pose we will return to our discussion of directed candid's and controlled poses and techniques to pull everything together for poses that will grab and hold attention.
If you enjoy my articles be sure to check out my blog at http://www.JoeEdelman.com/blog/ and my YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/PhotoJoeEdelman
If you work with models you may find this information valuable: http://www.businessofmodeling.com
Until next time – remember – Don't Be Afraid To Suck! Forget the rules. Experiment. Step out of your comfort zone and grow as a photographer.