Posing hands
August 15, 2020

Connected Family Portraits — It’s All About the Hands

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul but when it comes to family portraits, I disagree — it’s all about the hands. At the beginning of my sessions, I always tell my families, “Always have your hand on someone else.” Whether it’s on someone else’s hand, shoulder, waist, or cheek, I want my clients to be doing something with their hands that connects them to their family.

When clients do this, everything else — posing, interactions, expressions, laughter — just seems to fall into place easily. It may seem obvious, but unless you’re a professional model, you may not know what to do with your hands during a portrait session. And how awkward would you feel standing in front of a camera with your hands by your sides? Or just in your pockets? The solution — just touch your family, whether it be a hug, tickle, or squeeze.

Below are some examples of photos where the hands really show the family’s connection. As you look at these, imagine if the families were instead posed “traditionally” with their hands by their sides. See what a difference the hands make.

I love the hands in this photo. This family is having a quiet moment at the end of their session and mom pinches dad’s cheek. Every other hand in the image is in an embrace. So much love and playfulness here.
This family wanted to capture some of their last days as a family of three. Big changes are about to occur for this little guy but his dad is holding his hand. Mom has one hand on his shoulder and other other on her bump. All hands are showing this family’s connection and where they are in their lives.
I sometimes tell kids to “squeeze mom’s cheeks.” They have such fun and it always elicits the best expressions.
In this photo, dad was cradling baby’s head, which was a sweet moment in itself. I suggested that mom put her hand on top of dad’s to fully bring her into the scene.
This is a self portrait I took of me and my daughter. My favorite thing about this photo is the way she has her hands on my face and around my neck.
This is one of my favorite poses for a portrait of a child. The parent’s hands frame the child and also add that connection that I want to capture. In this photo this boy looks so confident and his dad’s hands seem to say “I have your back.”
This is the exact same pose only I suggested that the little girl kiss her mom’s hand.
Same pose again but with both parents’ hands in the frame and the little girl’s hands on top. The younger sister is out of the frame but her hand is visible bottom left. I love how the hands frame the little girl’s face.
Same pose again, and a great thing about it is it often leads to giggles and interaction.
I could have easily suggested that these sisters just run towards me separately. But having them hold hands makes it more fun for them while also showing their connection.
Last one. This is basically a group hug and it always brings out smiles and laughter. That’s what I want to capture, not “say cheese.”

  1. Desiree says:

    These are all the sweetest!! I’ve never focused much on hands but I definitely am going to now.

  2. Dina says:

    What a great post! Love these images.

  3. I love this unique post! Hands really can tell a story!

  4. Amber says:

    Beautiful images and wonderful information! Love your work!

  5. Mandy says:

    This is such a tiny adjustment to make which will lead to super connected photos. Thank you so much for this awesome post. And your photos are stunning examples of each explanation ?

  6. kate says:

    That is a great observation that hands are really the focus of connection.

  7. Debbie says:

    Love the connection in these images! Hands hold so much emotion!

  8. AV Goodsell says:

    Great tips! My clients sometimes don’t know what to do. I’ll definitely be trying some of these in October.

  9. April says:

    I love this idea of helping families learn about posing from your blog! And the hands are so important. Your examples are really beautiful.


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