Why Hand Placement Matters in Couples Portrait Photography

Hands play a crucial role in wedding photography (and, for that matter, any type of photography). If your subjects’ hands aren’t placed carefully, an otherwise great photo might be ruined. This video from SLR Lounge is all about posing your subjects so that their hands and other “natural pointers” tell the story you want to tell:

The human hand is a primary source of conveying messages. A finger pointed at you can be discomforting, to say the least. On the other hand, an outstretched arm in a gesture of handshake can be reassuring and confidence invoking.

visual pointers

Fingers are a natural visual pointer.

This collage of photos further highlights the importance of properly placed hands.

visual pointers

In the image on the left, you can see that the bride’s finger is positioned almost as if it’s pointing at something. Her eyes seem to be pointing at her fingers which also draws the attention of the viewer towards her finger. The question is, what is she pointing at? Look at the groom’s eyes; they are also gazing at her.

In the middle image, the arms of the bride and the groom are down toward the bride’s belly. This is where the eyes will naturally focus. Though the image is nice in its own right, the hand placement could give a completely wrong meaning. It could just as easily come across as a maternity photo.

The image on the right in the collage above is more aesthetically pleasing. The arms form a closed loop and the hands are positioned in a way that leads the viewer through the photo.

visual pointers

Moving to the next collage, the image on the left (above) has an interesting hand position. This one has an undulating pattern going for it which kind of gives it a visually pleasing look.

The final shot is what ultimately nails it. The groom’s hand carries a lot of visual weight. It automatically becomes the focus of attention in the image.

What do you think about this image?

visual pointers

Pye Jirsa suggests that he had to run this image a second time because he felt there were a bit too many visual pointers. Ten fingers going in different directions. So, does he think this is a bad image? Not really. The expression on the woman’s face was too great to trash the image.

Do you pay attention to hand placement when you pose your subjects?

For further training: The Art of Portrait Photography

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