How To Handle Hands - Posing Women’s Hands

One question that always arises during many portrait photography sessions is- "Where should I put my hands?" And this is usually followed by a nervous laugh.

So, where should a client put their hands during portrait photography?

The truth is that hand poses can break or make a great portrait. It can be tricky to get the right hand poses, but there are a few tricks you should know as a photographer and ensure your images look natural.

In this guide, we will share some customized sketches that demonstrate how to position women’s hands during a portrait session. It is important to mention that these poses are customized and exclusively done by a very talanted Zaryana Verney, a professional Russian artist.

Both Hands Together On Sideway

women posing guide, hand positioning

Such a pose can help add composition to your shots. Make sure that your client’s hands look perfect as they will be drawing attention to them in the frame.

Hand on Your Chin

women posing guide, hand positioning

Resting the chin on a hand while the other rest on the hip area in a seated position is another simple pose you should recommend to your model to try. This should be a simple hand pose and doesn’t a lot of preparation.

You can use this pose to create showcase some elements of concentrating. Make sure that the client’s hand doesn’t press on the chin as this can squish their face.

Hands around Your Neck

women posing guide, hand positioning

This pose can help accentuate your model’s beauty and bring out their feminine look. It is one of the simplest hand poses for pictures.

Frame Your Face with One Hand

women posing guide, hand positioning

If your client is comfortable taking photos, you can start playing around with how she uses her hands. Have them frame their hand underneath the chin while the other one supports them around the belly area.

Hand Close To Her Neck or Playing With Her Necklace

womens posing, posing ideas, posing guide

If your client has a necklace on, you can politely ask her to hold onto it in a way that her hand seems like pulling it outward. Remember that this pose doesn't intend to showcase her necklace, and thus shouldn’t steal attention.

Let your client take a 60-degrees angle from your look and then have their face looking at the camera. This should be a relaxed look.

Hands in the Hair Pose

Womens posing, hand posing

Want to create a magazine cover-like pose? This is the pose to pull. However, it is important to mention that this pose doesn’t work with every lady. If someone doesn’t know how to relax in front of the camera, don’t ask them to pull this pose.

You have to set up your client in a way that she is facing 45-degrees away from you. Then direct her to look at the camera with both hands on the ends of her hair on one side. If you find it hard to explain to your client, you can demonstrate it to them. Remember to have her keep all her hair on the side the hands will be.

Neck Touching

Female posing, hands positioning

Want to pull a sensual hand pose? Have your client touch their neck with one hand as they incline their head a little bit. This helps to add some sophistication and elegance to an image. This pose showcases their feminine side.


Hold your neclace 

Posing women, hands positioning


This is one of the first poses you can try on a client. You will see that one hand, instead of both, is a bit higher than the hip area and leaning more towards stomack while the other one rests on the chest (holding a necklace for example).

Now that we have discussed the poses, it's wise that we discuss some of the unwritten rules when it comes to hand posing.

Remember that it is not all about the hand poses- it is also more about how natural the pose looks.

Hand Posing Tips You Should Know As a Photographer

When photographing women and guiding their hand poses, keep these tips in mind;

  • Don’t let them press their arms to their bodies

Let’s say, for example, you want a client to do a “hands on hips” pose. Don’t let them look tensed. Ensure that their arms are not pressed against the body. To avoid this from happening, ask them to leave a little space between the arm and the body.

The same applies to poses where hands rest on the face. You don't want a client to squish their face with hands while trying to pull the traditional pose where hands rest on the face.

  • Don’t let the hands come too close to the camera

When it comes to cameras, objects are larger than they appear. This means that an object that is closer to the camera is going to look larger than anything else that's inside the frame. That's why you shouldn't let your client place their hands very close to the camera as this will mean that the hands will look larger in photos than they are in real life. In fact, for women, the hands will look more manly than feminine.

  • Don’t hide or crop the arm area

In portraits, hands add personality and beauty. Why leave them out? While disguising a part of the hands is acceptable, you shouldn’t hide the wrist.

If you ask your client to put hands on the waist or in the pockets, it is because you want them to look relaxed. Therefore, do not let them put the whole hand in the pocket as this will look manlier. They should place half the wrist inside to add personality to the images.

The same applies when cropping your images. Do not crop out the wrists. For a more natural look, do not crop hands, especially if it was a full-body portrait.

  • Avoid hands crossing in the front

Many people tend to stand with their arms crossed around their waist area. This is wrong since it draws attention to the lap area. Also, it shows naivety in portrait photography. As a photographer, it's your work to guide your client, so they don't feel confused as to where they can place their hands.

  • Avoid tense hand poses

You may ask, how will I spot a client with tensed hands? Well, there are many things that can show an unnatural, tensed hand poses. For instance, if a client curls up her wrists or makes a tight grip on something, that's a tensed pose.

Also, a model may place their hands in a tight, straight manner (like a soldier). In this cases, ask the model to relax their hands a little bit.

  • Watch out for symmetrical hand poses

When posing two models, it is easy for them to copy each other. But as a photographer, you don’t want the poses to be symmetrical since this makes images look a little bit less creative.

Instead of having both models place hands in their pocket, you can have one model leave a hand holding a prop as the other rest in the pocket while the other model pockets both hands.

Using hand poses that are asymmetrical can help make your photos look more creative.

Other Tips for posing hands:

  • Don’t let the hands bend too much

  • Avoid having the back of the hand showing straight on the camera

  • Don’t let the elbows get noticed in your shots

  • Watch out for raised shoulders. Raised shoulders is a sign of a tensed pose

Final Thoughts

There you have the tips on posing hands in portraits. I hope you have learned several hand poses to help your clients feel relaxed during photography sessions.

Hand placement is one of the challenges you will encounter when photographing women, and thus as a photographer, you should guide your clients on where to pose their hands.

You can start by asking your client to touch something with their hands (for example, a prop) and proceed to have them learn more complex hand poses.

One key thing to remember when posing hands- watch out for tensed poses. It’s not all about the poses; it is also about how natural these poses look.

Posted in: Photography for beginners