Photo Magic or "POOF" Photo Disaster - The Hand as a Prop in the Photographic Image
Side by Side Comparison - Do You Want to See the Whites of Their Eyes When Using a Model?

A Hand in the Photo Holds Lots of Problems - I hope these aren't your photos?

In this post, a dedicated reader of ASK Harriete submitted a group of photos where the "hand in the photo holds lots of problems."  These were selected from the Internet as "worst case" examples.  Below are 5 common mistakes and solutions to improve your photos. 

Hands holding jewelry.

Don't use your fingers or hand to hold a piece of jewelry or sculpture.  The fingers or a hand are always a distraction. In this example, I am betting the person held the brooch over a scanner bed, hence the black background and light on the finger tips.

A similar problem exists in the next photo where the jewelry is cradled in the hand. While the hand may have been an attempt to provide scale, this hand is distracting at best. The fingers are wrinkled and dry, the skin color distracts from the clarity of the glass, and the partial background of white aquarium stones is problematic. Notice that this is a left hand, the right hand is probably trying to hold the camera and shoot at the same time. It's not working. This is not a good photo of the jewelry.Handmade-Lampwork-Beads-Necklace

SOLUTION: Avoid holding jewelry if a plain background will work much better. Options include pinning a brooch into a plain piece of paper or cardboard. Earring posts or ear wires can also go through the background paper.

Another solution is to use Museum Wax or Earthquake Hold to temporarily hold or "stand up" the beads, rings or jewelry on the background.

Avoid being your own hand model. Lay the necklace, beads or jewelry on a neutral background and do your best photography with two hands!
To establish scale: Write the dimensions of the jewelry/object in the description.

HANDgold-webbed-glove-1 MISTAKE #2
Fingernails that look like talons.

Obviously, carefully manicured fingernails are important, but  these long fingernails painted in a dark, high contrast color are a distraction. Describing these fingernails as talons may be overly harsh, but you get what I mean.

SOLUTION: A lighter, less dramatic nail color may have fixed the problem. This example also demonstrates how important it is to focus on the art or craft work in the photo and avoid distractions.

The Stiff Hand or Arm

The arm (above left) looks stiff, flat, and awkward.
SOLUTION: Have the hand in a more natural position (near the body), clothing behind the arm should not have any pattern to work as a "neutral background."

Model not appropriate to jewelry.
In the next photo (right), the arm is too large for the size of the small, delicate bracelet.  For some reason the bracelet seems like it is in the wrong place on the arm.

SOLUTION: Jewelry should always be displayed on a model appropriate to the work. Delicate work should be displayed on a small, delicate model. Sophisticated work on a sophisticated model, etc.

Amputation of the hand.

Cutting off the hand at the wrist is always a bad composition. (The hand may not be relevant to the work, but cutting it off never works.)

SOLUTION: Either include all of the hand or don't put the jewelry on a model's arm.

The previous post (about photographing 3-dimensional objects, clothing or jewelry) described a few of the issues when including the hand in photos. This is part of an extensive series about photography as a foundation for the upcoming Professional Development Seminar.I hope to see you there. Ask your questions in advance by sending them to me.

Also ask your questions at a workshop with me in Pennsylvania sponsored by the PA Guild of Craftsmen. April 9th and 10, 2011.


Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:
Photo Magic or "POOF" Photo Disaster - The Hand as a Prop in the Photographic Image

The model or the pedestal? Which is the more effective image?

Breaking the "Rules" with Style AND Perfection - Photos that work!

Side by Side Comparisons - the White Background, Can You Cut It?

Side by Side Photos - Website Backgrounds Should be Consistent

Side by Side Photos -Clean or Complex Backgrounds?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons - Backgrounds with Texture or Pattern?

Side by Side Photo Comparisons: Colorful or Discordant?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos: Black Hole or Super Sophisticated?

Side by side comparisons of different photos - the graduated background. Stunning or stupefying?

Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos - the white background. Trendy or Technique?

Are You Being Judged by the Style of Your Images?

The photographers are revealed!