Hands in Portrait Photography
13 september 2021

Hands in Portrait Photography

In my opinion, taking beautiful pictures of model’s hands in portrait photography is quite a task. Generally speaking, woman’s hands should be graceful and elegant. This is particularly true for wrists and fingers. What’s important here is hands shooting angle, the bending of fingers, and naturalness. Beautifully captured hands produce a feeling of portrait’s completeness focusing attention and creating a harmonious contrast to the woman's curves.

Very often, the best possible way to achieve an appropriate hands position is to adjust them on your own as the model doesn’t see what her hands look like in front of the camera.

To get an idea of the best way to show model’s hands in the photo, I recommend looking through paintings. The Internet contains a huge number of beautiful paintings by various artists. Explore the portraits painted by the artists from various epochs and depicting hands in an absolutely amazing way. Keep paintings you like and use them as references during the photoshoot.


I’m sure that hands look much more harmonious and interesting in the photo when the model is doing something with them. For instance, she can button her blouse, comb her hair, put a flower behind her ear, pick an apple from a tree etc, or simply hold something in her hand. In this case, hands complement the story depicted in the shot and, consequently, make the photo more interesting.

It’s necessary to think how to keep the model’s hands busy while filming in advance. Of course, the fact that you gave her something to hold won’t help you reproduce the beautiful position of her hands. As a photographer, you have to adjust the angle of hand turning, the bending of fingers etc. to make hands look really graceful and beautiful in the photo.

When cropping arms, keep in mind the following rules. Arms cropped up to the elbows or wrists (where they bend) look ugly in the shot. Besides, cropped fingers look ugly, too. 

Under certain filming angles, for instance, from the sides, the other hand may be missing from the shot, and the model will look one-handed. Sometimes it may be invisible and tolerable. Yet, in most cases, the other hand should be shown at least partially.

It’s very important which angle is applied to filming wrists and fingers. You have to try to capture them so that the fingers look long and elegant, and the wrist itself looks graceful and delicate. It’s a bad idea to capture fingers that face the camera or the opposite direction. In this case, the fingers look very short or are completely invisible.

Again, let me highlight that painting is the best source of beautiful hand angles.