In most model portraits the hand is controlled by the wrist camera-wise. Since, at this point, becoming involved with a handful of fingers might prove confusing, let's consider the hand as one mass. Imagine it gloved in a flat, pointed box conforming roughly to the hand's general outline.
This box, like the hand, has broad surfaces on the front and back. The narrow edges are easily identified as the thumb or pinky (little finger) edge. Many views become possible with two movements of the wrist called the twist and the break.
Twisting the wrist does not actually twist the wrist at all! To understand fully this movement, you must think of the forearm and hand as a single, flat, continuous bar; the palm and inner forearm on one side and the back of the hand and outer forearm on the other. As the wrist twists it flips the bar from one side to the other or stops part way to display the edges. Breaking the wrist means breaking the continuous line formed by the hand and the forearm at the wrist junction.
The wrist can break in two directions 1) sideways, or 2) front and back. When the wrist breaks sideways it can break in (toward the thumb) or break out (away from the thumb.) When it breaks front and back, it breaks forward (the palm toward the inner forearm) or it breaks back (the palm of the hand away from the inner forearm).
As these movements are used singly or in combination, many views of the hand become possible ... some more acceptable than others.
HAND POSITIONS TAPERED AND BOLD result from movements of the wrist, the forearm or combinations of the two.
Tapered hands . . . primarily display the long inside or outside contours of the hands.
They add length to the arm and grace to the picture as a whole.
Since they are used to express finer emotion and character in model portraits, their message is relayed in subtle differences of position and careful attention to detail is of utmost importance in their use.
Bold hands . . . display the broad flat palm, back of the hand or geometric shapes, such as a clenched fist. They are deliberate attention grabbers... masculine and massive. Their abrupt bulk stops the eye. Bulk transmits positive feelings of physical vibrancy, strength, dynamic emotion or authority. Sometimes bold hands are used to convey negative feelings of clumsiness or violence.
HAND-STOPS are the places where hands normally stop. You would have used these hand-stops thousands of times without thinking of them... but can you remember them at the crucial moment?
Knowing a few hand-stops will provide you with a sound basis for interesting, relaxed, uncomplicated hand positions when you begin to wonder just what to do with a hand. When a hand stops - creative effort should begin. Opportunity for originality presents itself at any given stop. No turn or movement, however slight, is insignificant. Never be afraid to explore all of the subtle differences that can be expressed with the hand.
Endless variations of actual positions at each stop can be originated by: -twisting the wrist -breaking the wrist -varying finger arrangements
Endless ideas for what the hand can do at each stop will stem from thinking about what you have seen and can do. For instance, a hand on top of the head might be pushing hair out of the eyes, scratching the head in puzzlement, holding a hat in the breeze, simply relaxing there, putting a pin in the hair, etc. If you form the habit of watching people do these things you'll soon discover that each of these actions can be done in many different ways ... with the hand remaining on top of the head!
Once the hand stops - start working with it to form bold or tapered positions which help communicate the idea of the picture accurately yet conform to the limitations of the camera. For effective model portraits, work with the hands to produce even more attractive poses for the camera.
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