Including Hands in Portraits

When I am shooting portraits, I like to include the subject’s hands in the composition. If you follow my blog, you know that I shoot my portraits with a (somewhat) wide angle lens. This means that including the hands in the foreground will make the person’s hands look a little larger than normal and draw attention to them. Not everyone likes this, but I think it adds interest in certain types of portraits.

The picture below is of a super-cool Malawian guy. Here, I’ve used the hands and arms in the foreground to frame the picture.

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Cool Malawian : Prints Available

Super cool Malawian guy in an alley in Lilongwe.

In some cases, it works really well if the person is doing something with their hands. I am not suggesting that holding a machete works in every situation. For example, if you are a wedding photographer, I wouldn’t suggest this one. But the farmer below had a machete and it works great in this picture.

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Stand Tall and Hold a Machete : Prints Available

Indonesian man holding a machete with the rising sun behind him.

One last example from another Malawian… this time a woman. Here she is simple grabbing her arm with her hand. Notice her hand looks bigger than normal, due to the wide angle lens I used.

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Portrait of a Malawian Woman : Prints Available

A young Malawian woman poses for the camera in early evening sunlight.

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