Your whole life they have a purpose and you never really give them much of a second thought.

But as soon as you get in front of a camera, your hands seem to become like belly buttons, serving no readily-apparent usefulness.

You become acutely aware of these weird appendages that the rest of your life have an absolute purpose but get in front of a camera and they, well, just become weird.

A bit like feet … shoved into thick socks and wellies all winter, come spring they suddenly become quite the embarrassment

Here are my tips to avoid ‘hand-baressment‘ when next having your photos taken.

Give them a role during your photoshoot.

The easiest thing is to give them something to hold or interact with. If you are having photograph for your business then this could be a pen or phone. Yes all us branding photographers love this one. You could also incorporate props relating to hobbies or interests eg. a particular book that inspires you. In Riikka’s photoshoot above (above set of photos, middle bottom) we used some of the wool that she uses for her textile art to give her hands a purpose (and add some additional colour).


Depending on the mood you could include gestures such as popping your hair behind your ear  (I love this one as its something most of us do naturally), gently touching your face, popping a hand on your hip, putting hands in pockets (who doesn’t love a dress with pockets), or interacting with your surroundings. Experiment with different gestures to find what feels comfortable and natural to you.


If someone is in the shot with you, connect in some way. If its a loved one why not give them a cuddle or place your hand on your partner’s forearm, or give your dog a stroke. These actions provide  a gorgeous connection point between loved ones. Initially I was thinking this wasn’t one for business portraits but as I’m writing this I’ve changed my mind as I absolutely love it when clients include their pets in the branding photoshoots as this really shows connection

Cross Your Arms:

I love a crossed arm image. I think it looks powerful and inspires confidence. Pair it with a big smile and make sure its not a tight arm-cross otherwise it looks defensive. Keep arms loose and at least one hand on top of arm (both hands tucked in looks quite aggressive). This is a good one to practice. Also try a one arm-cross or elbow hug where one arm is across the body and the other is loose.

Use a surface: 

If there are nearby surfaces like a table, ledge, or wall, you can rest your hands on them in a relaxed manner. This can add variety and create a visually interesting composition.


It may feel strange but don’t be afraid to practice some hand poses before you have your photo session so you know what feels natural. Thoughout my sessions I’m always looking for things that clients do naturally with their hands so we can incorporate those elements. You’ll often hear me say ‘oh I love it when you did that, do it again’.

Let me know if you are going to try any of these.