This article contains media that the editors have flagged as NSFW.
The art in hands placement has been a tough subject for many photographers. Letting the client rest a hand rarely ends in an image filled with emotion or story. Knowing the simple techniques behind how to guide your client in where to place the hand, how to move them during the session, and how to convey emotion through the soft touch of the hand will take your session to a new level.
Lynn Clark of Lynn Clark Boudoir Studio writes that one main anxiety of her clients is "what do I do with my hands?" It is no secret that when many photographers start out hand placement is one of the main issues to overcome. In portraits the hands can be placed softly in the lap, or wrapped around the waist in some instances. In boudoir, the placement of the hands can express emotion that goes from the client looking stiff and uncomfortable to sultry and in the moment. Clark writes that is goes beyond the simple guidance of touch your lips or run your hand through your hair.
The Subtle Gestures
"Hands are a big part of any boudoir photo, and you can use them to draw attention to something specific, like a wedding ring, or even tell a little story," said Clark. She feels there are three ideas behind good hand posing in boudoir photos.
- The cardinal rule of if it bends, bend it. This includes wrists, fingers, and arch the palm as if the client was holding an egg.
- Have the client touch their skin as if they were caressing a baby they did not to want to wake up. Clark said this works every time for all the mothers she photographed. For others she tells them to touch the skin as if they were making very light ripples in a pond.
- The last idea is to focus on energy and intention. You can direct a client's hand onto her chest with intention of creating passion. The motion of tucking hair behind the ear is playful and flirty but Clark feels that the pushing the hand into the hair will create the feel of passion and pleasure.
Intensifying the Emotions
Creating pure passion in the image puts the energy into the hands by motions of grabbing at the sheets, or slightly pulling wardrobe garments down. Clark will start out her sessions with coaching her clients about hand placement and will show them the motions all clients will do absentmindedly. The motions can be tucking the hair behind the ear or even the placement of the hands on the breasts which is commonly known in the boudoir community as the hand bra. While these can be playful gestures, they do not convey the emotion that is needed in a boudoir image that has impact.
After this pre-coaching talk, her clients understand and trust in Clark when she guides them into other hand placement options. She tells them to move their hands up and down the body line in a way that feels natural to them. "That is when I can get magic," said Clark.
Her final thought to help other boudoir photographers with hand placement is to not be afraid to direct your clients. Have them touch parts of the body such as inner thighs, waist lines, and breasts. Play with the clothing by gently pulling or tugging it down. Shoot from behind your client as she unhooks a bra or even undoes the strap of a heel.
Your boudoir clients put trust in you to know how to make those spectacular images they can have forever. Guiding them to un-claw hands, take the pressured look off the wrists, and to pull emotion through the fingertips will not only mean natural images for you, but also more images she will love.
All images used with permission and courtesy of Lynn Clark.