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Your hands. You probably rarely think about them. That is until you’ve got a camera in your face and are asked to pose. Then they somehow transform into these awkward, alien extensions of your body that you have no idea what to do with.

If you’re nodding along in agreement, you’re not alone. It’s a common question I get when I’m helping to pose clients. Becoming aware of your hands and not quite knowing where to put them can make an otherwise excellent portrait look slightly stilted.

If you’ve not already read my post on practical portrait posing tips then take a look there first and consider this its sister post.

Not sure what to do with your hands? Here are my suggestions to help you forget all about them.

#1. In pockets

Let’s kick off easy and instinctively: put your hands in your pockets. Start with just the one, letting the other hang by your side, and then try both. The benefit of this action is it’s natural and has the added benefit of creating shape to your body.

Top tip: avoid having a lone thumb hanging outside the pocket as it can be distracting; put all of your hand in or just the thumb. Also try hooking your thumb into your belt loop.

#2. On hips

This is a classic, reliable look that just works. It flatters the body and creates space around the waist. Try placing both hands on your hips and leaning very slightly towards the camera. Alternatively try just the one hand and have the other resting by your side or on a chair or table.

#3. Crossed arms

Yes, it is a power pose and can risk looking confrontational but usually only if the rest of your body and stance is square on. To soften the look, stand at an angle to the camera and drop your near shoulder. And it always helps to add a smile!

#4. Frame the face

Hands are an effective way of framing your face. The aim isn’t to cover the face but to draw attention to it. Try gently touching your chin or resting your chin on the palm of your hand if you’re sitting down. If you’re leaning against a wall put the back of your hand against your forehead.

Top tip: don’t apply too much pressure when touching the face.

#5. Interlocking fingers

Splayed fingers can be really distracting and quickly draw the eye away so this is another nice, natural pose that eliminates that risk. It works best if you are sat down. Sit on the edge of your seat and lean forwards, with your forearms or elbows either resting on a table or on your thighs, and interlock your fingers.

#6. Hold something

Keep those hands occupied by holding something. Your mobile phone, a coffee mug, pen, paint brush, a book – it doesn’t matter! Just so long as it fits in with your brand and the object adds to the story you are telling.

#7. Adjusting clothes

This is a personal favourite of mine and it works great if you’re wearing a jacket (casual or formal) or even a hat or scarf. Try holding the lapels of your jacket with both hands, adjusting shirt cuffs, doing up a button, or pulling the neck of your jumper up to your face.

#8. Hold your other arm

I recommend not having your arms hanging listlessly by your side. Instead, let your arms hang down but reach across your body with one hand and hold the other arm just below the elbow. It draws attention away from your lap – which is a symptom of the classic “hands clasped in front”look – and creates a more pleasant shape.

Top tip: avoid symmetry with the hands; try to have one doing something different to the other.


I hope you found this helpful. If you have any suggestions of your own then comment below. And if there are any other posing tips you’d like to see me write about then get in touch!

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