As I already mentioned in my journal entry “Shooting at the Golf Course”, when I was surprised that a new face model did great hand posing, I want to explain better, why beautiful hands are so important and how they should look like.
For fashion shootings usually, thin models are the subject and this has a reason: the clothes look better on them because they won’t be deformed. Also when you look at the armpit, the fabrics of the sleeve and torso really don’t touch each other when the model lifts her arm. This is very important for the retouching – you can liquify better and even out folds, etc., without changing the shape of the other side.
But now about the hands. Hands can look too big, even if the model is very thin. They tend to be closer to the camera in several positions, or the fingers are simply rolled-up, which mostly looks clumsy. When they are more stretched, they will look as thin as the body of the model. So reason number one speaking for beautiful hand poses is – it just fits the general view.
Reason number two is the decoration. Hopefully, you and your team are a stickler for details. If the hair, jewellery or folds are perfect, that’s great. But the most powerful decoration and underlining of the subject are the hands. You can create a whole different mood by the posing of the model’s hands. She can make playful hands, very soft hands, even clumsy hands (if this fits the story well), or very strong and stretched fingers for dynamic poses. For example, when you shoot watches, the hands will be the most important instrument to do it well. In beauty, the fingers can surround the face and make it more interesting. Besides you can show the nail polish like that. But also in fashion, the hands can reveal the character of the girl you want to show. This way people get her attitude much better. Additionally, the model’s hand can lead the viewer’s eyes to a handbag, if that’s important.
Reason number three is quality. Beautiful hands make the image premium and without them, people won’t feel that the photographer is a professional. It’s so simple. As I said before, hands can look too clumsy, when you don’t take care of them in the pictures. You could get a result, that looks like you took pictures of your best girlfriend rather than a professional model.
What instructions can you give to the model?
When you see that the pose of the model is great, but the fingers are rolled-up, you can tell her to make barbie hands. It might feel artificial for her, or even look odd, but on the photo, it will definitely look better. The good thing about the barbie association is that she will keep her fingers close to each other. If optically still too big, you can easily liquify the whole hand and carefully narrow it.
In other pictures, you might want her hands more fanned out to highlight the face or whatever fashion piece she touches. It’s easy when the model has a feeling for elegance and grace in her movement. But you can easily show her what you mean too. So when you know the pose that you want (it’s the same with full-body poses), you should be able to show it yourself. It’s often too hard to communicate how to pose because in our everyday life we usually don’t describe how we are sitting or standing and what we are doing with our hands. And it would be weird to start describing other people’s way of moving. That’s why we aren’t used to the right vocabulary. And even if by experience we are, the girl in front of the lense might have another understanding of “graceful”, “powerful” or other notations. So it’s useful to just practice in front of the mirror and afterward show the poses to the model. She will get a better feeling of what you mean.
It may happen that your model is too tense. But when she puts her hand on a handbag, it should look like a tender touch only. She shouldn’t squash it for the sake of the product and her finger’s color. Also when she leans on a chair or table, pretending is better than really doing it. Her arm will stay smooth as well as her face. To instruct her to do so is easy. Just tell her to be relaxed and soft and be nice to her. It should help. If not, you can again just demonstrate it.
Last but not least, you always have the power of making the right selection. When you shoot 50–200 pictures per outfit, there are plenty to choose from. And when it’s hard to decide, sometimes the best one is the picture with the perfectly posed hands (;
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