May 28, 2013

posing tip – check the wrists and hands

In posing, a good tip is to have the wrists and hands form a kind of S-curve instead of being straight. While this photograph works for me,  and I really like the composition and her direct gaze into the camera … I should’ve guided Anelisa to bend her left wrist (the hand closer to her cheek), a bit more. That would’ve made her gesture a touch more elegant in this photograph at the top.

Of course, in analyzing your photographs closely, there is (nearly) always something to pick up on how you could’ve improved the final image.

Here is another photograph in the sequence, where you’d be able to clearly see the difference a change in the pose would’ve made …

With this photo, I love the pose and her gaze out of the frame, but her hands and wrists are too straight. Instead of an elegant gesture, her  hands are now clumsily posed from this angle. This is something I should’ve caught at the time. Any failure in this photograph is entirely mine.

As experienced as your subject may be – and Anelisa is supremely easy to work with – your subject can’t see exactly what you’re seeing through the camera’s viewfinder. Nor can they see how you’re framing the shot. So it still is up to you, the photographer to guide your subject.

With this photograph, if I had told Anelisa to drop her left wrist a bit to create an angle, then her right hand’s fingers would’ve flexed as well … and the entire gesture would’ve been that little bit more graceful.

As an exercise, try mimicking her pose, and see what the difference in her gesture would’ve made to the final image. No really, I am serious – hold your hands in that pose to copy it, and then see and feel the difference it would’ve made for yourself. Remember, the best way to pose someone, is to physically show them.


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{ 9 comments. } Add a Comment

1 Matias May 29, 2013 at 11:33 am

Neil, can you show to me any picture with hands well posed?, because It’s difficult to me to imagine the “correct” way of posing the hands and wrists. I can’t get it without a visual example :(



2 Dennis Dempsey May 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Thanks so much for your insightful tips… You sure have come a long way from the early “Planet Neil” days!




3 Neil vN May 29, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Thank you for being there along the journey.


4 Chris Frailey May 29, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Thanx for sharing. I’m not sure if her hands bother me more than her neck being stretched to camera left.


5 Neil vN May 29, 2013 at 1:29 pm

And conversely, that is part of her pose that I really like, and that nearly pulled this photo into the Successful category for me. It perhaps shows that as with much of photography, there are no distinct “right or wrong” borders, but that it is up to personal taste as well.


6 Shawn Campbell May 29, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Thanks a lot, Neil. Great tip! I’ll take all you got.


7 Juraj Dorko May 30, 2013 at 9:56 am

@ Chris Frailey: If Anelisa didn’t stretch her neck at all, you wouldn’t be able to see her jawline well and you absolutely have to have a great jawline for a good portrait! :) (That’s not from my head – watch some of Peter Hurley’s videos.) But sure, it’s all individual, just work with the model and see what works for you.


8 Ed June 12, 2013 at 11:11 am

My fault lies with remembering the hands! With my weddings, I do remember to tell the groom we don’t want hands sticking out of her shoulders etc… but always forget the brides hands! Thanks for the tips Neil :)


9 Roy Barnes March 25, 2014 at 5:40 am

I’ve looked long and hard at the second image and, while I can appreciate the subtle difference that the change in positioning might bring about, the image as it is is wonderful! In this image, the gaze off-camera and the almost masculine position of the arms/hands brings a sense of power and domination where the image radiates a perception that is quite startling. I love it. I suppose that the further take on this article might be that there is no real correct posing or composition: you simply adjust and set up the composition in order to project what you desire to be perceived.


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