Trick of the Hand | A Photographer’s Education

The tip this month can literally be used in ANY situation, with any gear, with anyone. All you need is your hand and a camera (phones included).

We learned the hand trick early on and to be honest, it’s one we use more often than most! That’s because to us, the MOST important thing about a photo is light. The background, the subject, the props, nothing else matters if you have bad light. (You also can start thinking about what kind of light you want, but we’ll get to that in another post.)

Here’s how it works. Hold your hand up where you’re going to be taking that selfie, or photo of your newborn, or your cat, whatever it is! You can see how the light falls on your fingers. If you like how it looks on your hand, then chances are you will like how the light looks on your subject. If you don’t, then move your hand around you (sometimes we even twirl in a slow circle) to find the best light and when you do, stop…put your subject there…and take the photo.

Below are 3 examples of the light hitting my hand from a window at three different angles and what that same light looks like on Erik’s face. (In hindsight I should have painted my nails or something.)

The first example shows how the light looks on my hand and Erik when my back is to the window, which can be the most flattering light because it is even with no shadows. This is also the easiest light to find on your hand. Highly recommended for selfies!


 This next example shows how the light looks on my hand and Erik at a 45 degree angle to the window. You can see shadows on my thumb, first and middle finger on the right hand side, which is exactly where the shadows land on Erik’s face, a bit on the right.


The last image shows my hand and Erik at a complete 90 degree angle to the window. You can see how half of each finger has a shadow and how that reflects to half of Erik’s face being in shadow.


So next time you’re trying to take the most flattering picture in the best light, try out your hand first! You don’t even need to take a photo of it (we just did that here to show you the example). We’d look pretty crazy if we kept taking photos of our hands during a wedding. Just use it as a guide to see how the light is hitting your skin and go from there!

We hope you take some hand…somely good looking photos with this trick! ~Erik & Marissa

James Milstid - Great simple trick! I think that even I can remember that one! Thanks!

Lauren Sheppard Alongi - Your nails look lovely! 😉

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