Recently, a client of mine posted on Facebook a question about why she’s seeing so many head shots with hands in them. Chins resting on a hand, on hands on a face, etc. She didn’t like them and wanted to see head shots without the hands… and hopes it’s not widespread trend. To which the comments were fairly passionate about how awful posed portraits are especially when a hand is in there to hide a double chin or something. How it’s cliche, how it makes an otherwise confident-looking woman look coy, etc.
Well, I chimed in a bit… because I love using hands in portraits… but I also chose to stay out of the fray. To me, to say “I hate portraits with hands in them” is like saying “I hate chocolate with nuts in it.” And I know this because I used to say that… the chocolate one. But I’ve since learned that it is just too broad a mindset. Is it dark chocolate or milk? What kind of nuts are in there? What else is in there? What is the chocolate-to-nut ratio? Because the Chocolove Sea Salt and Almond bar is to die for. While the Hershey’s with Almond bar is easily passable.
And so, with hands, the question is what is the headshot or portrait supposed to communicate? What other body language is going on? Is the hand posed correctly? Is it showing tension? I think you can have a hand in there and show confidence. I think you can have in there and show anything, just like you can show anything without a hand. It’s not the hand to blame. Hands are so beautiful. Much like faces, they express so much. Tension you might be able to keep out of your face shows up in your hands.You have to have some guts to show your hands near face. Hands are what do the things you’re doing. They make manifest your ideas and feelings. Dream up a garden and try making it real without your hands. Hands draw attention too. Your eye naturally follows a pointing finger. So you see, I love hands.
And I use hands in my portraits often. And maybe it’s not quite accurate to call them head shots, because they show a bit more body language than just a head shot should. But I’d love to hear your thoughts on these photos… head shots… using hands. (And while I’m open to criticism of my work, please remember that these lovely people are actually my clients. Let’s keep it kind, ok?)