How to Capture Hand Gestures

One of the best ways to capture more emotion in your photos; capture hand-gestures.

How do we capture hand gestures in photography? Here are some ideas:

1. Look for hand gestures

First of all, don’t photograph people when they don’t have any engaging hand gesture.

In the streets, only make a photograph if you see someone doing a gesture with their hands.

If you’re photographing your loved ones, wait for them to do a hand-gesture. Then see what kind of emotions pour forth.

2. Ask for gestures

If you’re photographing a subject, your family member, or friend, you can say things to get them to make a hand gesture.

For example:

  • I love your necklace– what is the story behind your necklace? (they will play with their necklace, with their hands)
  • Your hair looks beautiful today, what did you do to it? (people will play with their hair)
  • What are your plans for tomorrow? (often people start to scratch their chin)

3. Photograph only the hands

Another tip: just photograph the hands, and nothing else. Use macro mode and a flash if possible, to darken the background.

4. Study paintings with hand gestures

Also, find inspiration in the Renaissance artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael. They painted beautiful hands.

For example, here are some great hand-gestures from the painting “John the Baptist” by Leonardo da Vinci. Hand gesture movement outlined in red:


5. Photograph your own hands

When you have nobody else to photograph, you can always photograph your own hands.

6. Wait for your subject to notice you

When shooting street photography, I often hold my camera up, take a few photos, and wait for my subjects to notice me. Then when they ‘catch’ me photographing them, often they elicit a hand gesture.

7. “Can you do that again for me?”

If you see an interesting hand gesture (like someone sneezing into a tissue), you can cheat and ask them: “Hey that thing you just did– can you do that again?”

8. Study photos with hand gestures

Here are some of my favorite photos where I got a hand gesture. To me, the photos feel more emotional:




Conclusion: It is all about emotions

At the end of the day, the point of capturing hand gestures is to capture more emotion in your photos. To capture more soul.

Never forget.


Emotions and Photography

eric kim hanoi lake street photography

Learn how to integrate more emotions in your photos:


Soul Photography

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Learn how to photograph with your soul: