photo of people reaching each other s hands
Photo by Anna Shvets on

How to photograph the hand? Is there really a technique for taking pictures of hands? And why would I take pictures of “hands?” Great questions and let’s get on this one.

How to pose hands to make them look nice, obviously goes back to “posing the human body”. When you pose a person, the hands are one of the most important things to pose correctly. If you have the hands flat against the body, or just seeing the whole back or front of the hand is not very “pretty”. And that includes both male and female. That is why I liked the photo above, because you see the sides of both hands, they have a small formation, not like broken fingers, and it is a pose I love of hands.

Use Hand Poses to Flatter the Rest of the Body

Hand poses can make or break what’s otherwise a great portrait. Getting those hand poses right can be tricky to do and tough to communicate. Use Hand Poses to Flatter the Rest of the Body

Sure, this article is to learn where to put the hands. But where the subject places the hands can change the entire body shape.

In general, use the hand pose to create space between the torso and the arms. The subject will look wider if you don’t. Try placing the hands on the hips, for example.

That’s not a hard and fast rule, though. Crossing the hands in an X at the front can exaggerate curves (often used with women).

Crossing the hands with the elbows out can make the shoulders look broad. This hand pose is often used by men because it also highlights the arm muscles.

Smiling tattooed girl with her hands on her hips

Don’t hide or crop any part of the hand.

Hands can add beauty and personality to the images. Why leave them out of the photos? While obscuring part of the hands is fine, avoid hiding everything from the wrist down.

If you ask a model to put his hands in his pockets, you want him to look relaxed, not nervous. Don’t put the hand all the way into the pocket or the hand will disappear. This could even make the model’s hips look a little larger than they are. (Even Hollywood agrees.)

The same applies to determine where to crop the photo. Don’t crop at the joints, wrists and finger joints included. Cropping at a limb feels incomplete. If you’re going to shoot a pose that’s not full-body, crop mid-way between joints for a more natural look.

Woman in a blue dress showing a hand pose
Photo by Samarth Singhai from Pexels

Don’t Place the Hands too Close to the Camera

Cameras should come with a warning almost identical to the one in the corner of the mirrors on your car. Objects are larger than they appear. If something is closer to the camera, it’s going to look larger than anything that’s farther from the camera.

The effect is exaggerated with Wide Angle lenses and decreased by telephoto lenses

Avoid placing the hands closer to the camera than the rest of the body. Or the hands will look larger in the photos than they are in reality.

In a seated position, don’t place the hands beyond the knee. And in a standing position, don’t move the hand more than a few inches closer than the face.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. I sometimes ask engaged couples to hold the ring out towards the camera while they kiss in the background. But that’s okay because the ring highlights their engagement.

The first photo below isn’t wrong. But in the second image, the eye goes straight to the faces. The hand is no longer competing with the faces.

Diptych photo of a couple posing outdoors demonstrating natural hand poses for photography

Use an Angle to Make Hands Look Smaller

The placement of the hands can make them look larger. The hand poses can also influence the perceived size.

A hand straight on to the camera will look larger in the photos. But if you can only see the side of the hand, the hand will look smaller.

Hands should be at least at a slight angle away from the camera. Or you should photograph hands from the side.

This is most important when the pose keeps the entire hand visible. It’s less essential when it’s only a portion of the hand in the shot.

Why? Larger hands will compete with the face. Of course, if there’s no face in the image, getting the hands angled is less important.

Woman posing with chin on hand

Avoid Hands Crossed in Front

For some reason, many people stand with their arms crossed in front in wedding images.

It makes a great joke (for the right crowd) that they look like someone walked in on them in the shower. But it draws attention to the wrong area. You want to avoid focusing the viewer’s eye on someone’s lap.

A young man posing in front of a wall

Here is my biggest guideline to almost every photo with hands:

If you are seeing the back of the hands in your photos, then try to find something different to do with the hands.
woman in white shirt covering her face with white textile
Photo by behrouz sasani on

Watch Out for Tense Hand Poses

How do you spot tense hands? They’re flat and tight or curled up into fists. Make sure you avoid both poses.

In case of tense flat hands, ask the model to relax their hands and curve the hand a bit.

In the case of fists, ask the subject to place his or her hands softly instead.

Like any photography rule, there are always exceptions. This includes photos when your aim is to create tension.

A young man in sports gear posing outdoors

This portrait above is an exception to the rule. But, I am still not a big fan of putting your hands in pockets, like you see above here. My question is, when I see a photo like this: “Is something wrong with fingers? Did he have a hand accident?” I always look at what I can do differently with hands, on either male or female.

Here’s a few more great examples of hands posed right.

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash
man in black leather jacket
Photo by Yogendra Singh on

Most photographers aren’t in the practice of just taking photos of hands, but, if for some reason you have that assignment, use the same principles to get pleasing photos. Here is just a couple of examples of just great hand photos:

persons raising hands
Photo by Luis Dalvan on
elderly man in black suit jacket covering his eyes with his hand
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on


Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

51 subject in photography! Some of these subjects make sense, but some are hard. Today’s subject is very subjectional. It’s on: Learning how to take photos of something you never have done before! Read and learn:

The picture at the top is one subject of photography I have not done, or maybe have done when my children were younger. But, for me, doing sports photography is something I have never done before, seriously. So, I know what I need to do, and that is the point of this blog today: to challenge you to go out and take pictures of something you never have done before.

What, have you never taken pictures of before? Wild animals, street photography, architecture (you can see I’m picking hard subjects), sports, etc. Could you do it if someone asked you? Let’s take a look at my personal subject: SPORTS!

photo of man playing tennis
Photo by Florian Doppler on

Thinking this through, what specifics would I want to use in taking pictures of sports? Let’s look at what we know:

  • Most sports activities are very fast moving?
  • Is the lighting favorable to stop action?
  • Big question: Do I have the right equipment to do this type of photography?
  • What angle is the best to get great photos?
  • Can I get to a place to get good photos?
  • Will I get injured if I am too close? (Really? How many photographers get injured?)
  • And finally, what kind of photos do I take? Action? Athlete portrait? Crowds reaction?

And then, the next thing I think about, with the above questions in my mind:

  • ISO Setting should be much higher than normal, because I am going to try to stop action. Maybe 800ISO would be a good start.
  • Shutter speed needs to be fast. Let’s shoot for around 1/500 second.
  • Aperture, adjust according to light, but, I would ideally like to have it around 3.5 or F4 to make sure my background is focused out.
  • My auto focus should be on so I can stay up with the action. If I am trying to get a close-up, like a portrait, then go manual focus, so I can focus on the eyes.

If you are a serious photographer and want to try something new, then that is probably the steps you need to take. First, analyze what you are taking and the pitfalls that you might have, and then second, what would be your camera settings.

Photo by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash

In the next couple of weeks, we are going to have the Olympics in Japan. Watch the photographers, and then notice the photos that come from these photographers. There is a lot to learn.

Photo by Yarenci Hdz on Unsplash

Now, take a look at a subject that you have never done before. Ask the right questions, learn before you go what the conditions are, and then figure out what settings your camera should be on. One of the tough subjects is “portraits of men”. Could you do the same great job as the photo above? Of course you can. A lot of succeeding in photography is to practice, and if it doesn’t come out, try again, until you get it right.

A Dream Inspiration Picture Quote Colin Powell


green leafed tree
Photo by veeterzy on

Taking a photo of a “tree” or a “leaf” can be fun. I think, in this list, when it says a “tree” or a “leaf”, that perhaps they mean: 1 tree, and 1 leaf, I’m not sure. So, looking at the photo above, the artist took a photo of just one tree, and you can tell it is the main subject, but, it is obvious, it is also in a forest. Let’s work toward the tree or leaf being the main subject.

Typically when you see a photo of just a tree, it is in the scene as a “negative space” object. Such as this:

full moon on a daybreak
Photo by David Besh on

This tree, although mostly bare, is a great subject in this photo, especially because of the silhouette feature of this photo. I, too, have taken a photo like that:

Photo by Lanny Cottrell for 123PhotoGo

This is one good way to take a photo of just One tree. At sunset time. I have seen some other great photos of just a single tree, but, during the day, and with emphasis on the tree:

green tree near green plants
Photo by mali maeder on

If your tree has something unique to it, then focus on that uniqueness. Like the photo above, we don’t see much of the tree at all, but that lichen on the tree makes for an interesting subject.

Now let’s take a look at taking photos of a leaf:
purple leaf
Photo by Pixabay on

Taking a photo of a leaf works a lot like taking a photo of a tree. If there is something unique about the leaf, then get in close and capture that uniqueness, even if you help create it. The other times that you see a lot of “leaf” pictures is in the fall, when the color is in the leaf:

brown leaf
Photo by hiwa talaei on

There is a lot of color in just a fall leaf. But, do you find that boring? How about we put some action to a leaf:

leaf floating on body of water
Photo by Cole Keister on

See if you can give some special background to a leaf, to make it more of an interesting photo.

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash ——– Was inspired to shoot this after seeing the contrast that this leaf created. It led me to the conclusion that we manifest all the good that comes into our lives. We light the way. We infuse all the beautiful colors into our reality.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash ——- I like this photo of this leaf because, it is obvious that it is still on the tree. This leaf is “alive”

Try several things with a leaf, again, with a background to compliment it:

Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash


When taking a photo of either a tree or a leaf, look to add a little extra into the photo for background, but, don’t make it so busy that you lose sight of what the subject is. These kind of photos you see above, are the type of photos that will sell.

Learn how to take photos of “beautiful architecture”

modern building against sky
Photo by Expect Best on

BEAUTIFUL ARCHITECTURE ! Just one of the 51 subjects of photography! When I first saw this subject, my first question that came to my mind was: “how do you classify beautiful architecture?” This could be really subjective. But, let’s take a look at some buildings and see if we can talk about these masterpieces of art – made into a building.

This building is the “rock and roll hall of fame building” Photo by Lance Anderson on Unsplash

When you want to take photos of beautiful buildings, I have found that generally there are two types of buildings that are classified as either modern or ancient. Interesting that there was so many good architects back in ancient time, and if you get a chance to take pictures of these ancient buildings, you will certainly fall in love with them too. The photo above is some beautiful architecture that we would classify as “modern architecture”. The buildings like this are all in very interesting designs, and part of the buildings are not a building at all, but, an extension of the building to get it’s interesting shapes. If you have ever studied architecture before, if you choose to add a chunk of building off to the side, like the above photo, you know it has to be balanced within, or it won’t stand. And the other interesting thing about modern architecture is that the creator didn’t have any problem showing the beams, and poles, and ceilings within the building’s interior to create these buildings.

low angle photo of staircase
Photo by Andre Moura on

The building here above was designed to be efficient, but, you notice all the poles that hold up the stairs, the beams in the ceiling, and in this case, glass in the ceiling. Very modern effect. If you want to get good pictures of modern buildings, it is good for you to get photos of the building that has some strange or interesting character. For some reason, the architects of ancient time probably would have never dreamed of doing this. But, anciently, they used a lot of ornate decorations in the creations of their buildings. Like this:

This ancient architecture still had the interesting designs to the building: the rounded hallways, or beautiful stained glass windows, but, look at the carvings in the building to give it some story to the building.

One thing that will really work on architecture, either modern or classic, is see what you can do with light coming through the windows. This makes the building seem even more artistic, if you can get rays of light to work with the building.

Photo by arpa sarian on Unsplash
fashionable woman in light room near wall
Photo by SHVETS production on

In modern buildings, like the one above, the light seems to be very diffused, not so directional. The lighting is perfect for taking pictures of anything inside.

Here are some good tips that I know will help in taking photos of beautiful buildings:

1- Take pictures of buildings in different weather. It’s amazing how good a building will look when it’s wet.

photo of lighted buildings during night time
Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on

2- Prioritize good lighting, whether it is outside or inside. Look at how nice the lighting on the Eiffel Tower looks when it’s all lit up:

low angle photo of eiffel tower
Photo by Flo Dahm on

3- Explore details of the building and get photos of that:

Photo by Rodrigo Sümmer on Unsplash

4- Visit the site many times. A good photographer does his homework. Go several times, and walk through the building, walk around the building, look at different ways to take pictures of the building, both in and outside. You will be glad you did. And also, don’t objectify the building. If it seems to have one amazing structural detail, don’t take a photo of just that. A person seeing your photos of the building will want to see what it looks like all the way around, so they know what it looks like if they come to visit.

Here is a few more photos of beautiful buildings, and notice how the photo was taken:

canoe on body of water with pagoda background
Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on
residential cottage house with courtyard
Photo by Max Vakhtbovych on
Photo of Salt Lake Temple during the Golden Hour. Photo taken by Lanny Cottrell Photography


blue and gray high rise building
Photo by Pixabay on

There seems to be quite a fascination of tall buildings for people. Always has been, always will. When you stand by one, and look up, all you can say is: “wow”! The marvel of what man can create is truly amazing. And now tall buildings are becoming more beautiful as they get built too. If these buildings are so fascinating, then it’s obvious that people would want to take a picture of this building. Architectural Photography is another great word for this. And it certainly does show off some skills of one person, or persons who create these monster buildings.

Obviously, then, there must be some skill in taking pictures of these buildings. Let’s get into the “How to” of taking photos of skyscrapers.

  • One thing that totally makes sense in taking pictures of a building is to take the photo vertically. You will be able to get the whole building in your frame easier than doing it horizontally.

I studied about 10 different articles about taking pictures of buildings, and surprisingly, there were different steps by different photographers. So, between what I have read between the different articles, here is the tips I think are the most important.

  • Along with the first tip, in order to get most of your building to fit within your frame, you will need a Wide Angle lens. It will certainly make it easier to get the whole building in your frame, if you can use the right lens for the right job.
high rise building
Photo by Mihai Vlasceanu on
  • Lighting of the building is something you should study before you take a photo. Remember that the perfect lighting is what makes ever photo great. Is it better to take a photo at sunset or late in the day? Or even morning? Another thing to really make a photo great with buildings, is to see if you can get some clouds in the photo. It is something that just doesn’t happen accidentally while you are walking by this building, you would, if you have the time, find a day that has the perfect clouds. An artist would probably paint the clouds in his picture, so why not consider yourself an artist and study when there will be clouds?
  • Look for unique angles of buildings that maybe some other photographer has not tried yet.
Photo by Jason Oh on Unsplash

Sometimes people fail to show the big beams, the micro-structure of a building and that is something a good photographer will look for. Wander around the building to see if there is something like that.

  • Don’t be afraid to show people in your photo, but, if you get faces in your photo, you will need to get a copyright release. The law says you have to approval from the person if you are going to use that photo in a publication of any kind.
photo of people walking on street near brown concrete building
Photo by Lina Kivaka on
  • A good idea to really get good architecture photos is to get to know your subject better. And that subject, of course, is the building. What can you take pictures of, that will highlight what makes that building so famous (if it is famous, or if it’s not, what feature could you highlight?)? Is it the entrance to the building? Is it the lobby? Is it the big windows? What would you like to highlight now?
Notice how this building has unique slide open window frames. The whole frame turns from front to side to give you more view. Photo by Sara Sadeghloo on Unsplash


Photo by Lanny Cottrell

Taking photos of an empty road seems to me to be an easy one. The tough part in getting an open road, is to make sure there is no traffic on it. And that is why I tend to look for old dirt roads, or trail roads that have been created by truck enthusiast. But, this falls in to one of the big rules of composition: Leading lines. Knowing that leading lines is a great rule of composition and then to get that with empty roads, is a winning combination.

road heading towards mountain
Photo by Nextvoyage on

There is always one big choice you need to make in taking photos of empty roads, and that is to have the road go right down the middle of the photo, or have it curve or be off-center in your photo. In reality, I first look to see if I can get a good photo by having it either curve or be off-center, and if I can’t do that, then I will go stand in the middle of the road.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

I really like this photo and how the road comes from the right hand of the picture and leads to the center of the photo. I would recommend that if you can do this, choose this option first, and see if you can do that.

Photo by Lanny Cottrell

The photo above is a little different because I chose to have the road come from the center of the picture to the left hand side of the photo. It tends to draw your attention to the side that has the beautiful fall colors in the picture.

Night photo by Lanny Cottrell photography

The photo above, taken at night time, was an easy choice, because the street light is right in the middle of the photo, and the road leads our eyes to that central point. Also, the other thing to make sure you do is to use a small aperture, if you can control that. That way you will have a focus field that is much larger, and more of your photos will be in focus.

Road partially taken over by snow, photo by Lanny Cottrell Photography

Winter is always fun to get road pictures, You will get the road going where your eyes should go, plus, there could be tire tracks to help with those leading lines.


When taking photos of an empty road, first see if you can make it look good by not having it go right down the center, but, if you must do it right down the center, this is one rule you can break in composition. This will still work down the center.

If you would like to author a blog on this site, please contact me at:


Photo by Jessica Rockowitz on Unsplash

I like the way photographers take photos of families now. Such a lot of fun different poses to try with the family. To get to a studio and have them do the professional posing, the backdrop of the library, and the formal way to do photos of families is really hard on some families. Like the photo above, the family is all together, and casually dressed for a picture to hang on the wall. BUT WAIT!!!! Don’t you need to see their faces? Well, in my way of taking family photos, you can be casual, but really, I think it’s important to get the faces of everyone, and especially catch them when they are smiling if you can.

The above photo is more of a casual photo, and still you see their faces on everyone. But, here are some tips on what to really look for in taking photos of families:

  1. DO Tell Them What to Do.
  2. Do NOT Pose Your Clients Facing the Sun.
  3. DO Communicate With Your Clients.
  4. Do NOT Forget the Surroundings.
  5. DO Tell the Family How to Pose.
  6. Do NOT Go Overboard With Editing.
  7. DO Keep an Open Mind About the Results.
  8. Do NOT Take Just One Photo.

I think all of the above steps are very important in taking photos of a family. Let’s look at some examples:

6 Tips for Your Family Photo Shoot - Me Ra Koh, The Photo Mom
Photo by Me Ra Koh

I’ll be honest, I almost always pray that the number of people in the family is an odd number (3, 5, 7, etc). Because look how pleasing that is. Putting them all in some kind of pyramid is just good composition. And of course, in a setting like this, the parents should always be in the middle. That is one thing I think is important.

If you do have an even number of people in the family (4, 6, 8 etc.), then you have to be bit more creative. You can still create some kind of pyramid with even number people, like this:

20 Creative Family Photo Ideas - mybabydoo | Photography poses family,  Family posing, Family photo pose
Photo by My Baby Doo photography

The family members are hardly ever the same size, so, it’s not too hard to create a pyramid type pose with even numbers. Just be creative, but, think pyramid. This also gets into the steps of telling where people need to stand, and also how to pose them, as listed above.

Funny Family Portraits | Awkward & Bad Family Portraits

When taking photos of families, be aware of the surroundings around them. Is there a tree coming out of someone’s head? Is the weather something to consider.

And the other thing to tell your family ahead of time, is Don’t all dress in the same clothes. It just looks unnatural.

57 Matchy-Matchy Families - | Funny family photos,  Awkward family portraits, Funny family portraits

The family might think it’s fun, but have a few of these type of photos handy, so you can show them how awful it looks.

When telling a family how to dress, I have always advised them to wear earth-tone colors, or something that is not going to distract them from their faces…. which is the most important part of family photos.

10 Tips for Preparing for a Family Photoshoot - Oh Lovely Day | Chandra  Fredrick
Photo by “Oh Lovely Day” Photography

See how nicely this family dressed in earth tones and it just makes the viewer look at faces, and not the clothes.

Next tip to watch out for, and I have seen photographers just overdo some of this, and that is Don’t go overboard with editing. You may get photos that look like this:

Hilariously Bad Family Photos Go Viral | PetaPixel

Just let the photo speak for itself. You will not win awards for bad editing.

Finally: How do you get photos of families without someone blinking or closing their eyes, or making funny faces. That is the final tip as listed above. Take lots of photos. I have this belief that if you countdown to when you are going to snap your camera, that on the count of 3 everyone will blink. However, just for fun, I will count to 3, but, start snapping photos at 1, 2, 4, 5, etc. And as long as they seem to stay in the pose, I will keep snapping. But, I don’t take a picture on 3.

Here are some excellent family portraits, and the reason I am posting these photos is for you to study them, and see all the good things you like about it. All of these photos, in my book, are just excellent family photos:

15 Family Photo Session Tips & Advice from a Professional Photog
Photo by Daisy Beatty photography
Tips for a Successful Family Session — Mike B Photography
Photo by Mike B Photography
Primavera Family Session | Mansfield, TX - Sarah Hoover Photography
Photo by Sarah Hoover Photography

Enjoy taking photos of families, but, study the good photographers and see how they pose them, and to what degree of editing they do. My rule in photography is to be a copycat in portrait photography, because you will get it right, if you follow the professional portrait photographers. Use the tips listed above to help guide you in making good photos.

There are certain lenses recommended for portraits. Click on this link: portrait lenses to see what is recommended.


seashore under white and blue sky during sunset
Photo by Pixabay on

51 Different subjects in photography, and I am going to do them all. Today’s subject: “How to take photos of the beach!”

The beach is something that everyone loves. The sound of the calming waters, the feel of the sand through your toes, the beautiful sunsets, the sunburn you get the first time. It is all just a special place in so many people. So, there is some special tips I would like to share with you about taking photos at the beach that will help you out to get great photos.

  • Make sure you focus on something, even if it’s way out there.
  • Use the “Golden Hour” to take your photos before sunset and after sunrise.
  • Bring an air blower, and a lens cleaning brush with you.
  • Use a tripod
  • Polarizing filters will do wonders for your photos
  • Play with shutter speeds when taking photos of the waves

Ok, let’s take a look at some of these ideas so you can see what we are talking about.

silhouette of a person on a swing
Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on

Find something you can focus on. Take a look at the above photo, and notice that the person on the swing is very sharp. Also, look at the background, it is also in focus. If you can set your focus, with setting your aperture right (F16, F22, etc.) you can get it all in focus, but, if there is something in the foreground, focus on that.

green grass during sunset
Photo by Nathan Cowley on

Taking pictures during the “golden hour” will just give you a warm glow to the entire photo. It is so pleasing. And also, especially at the beach, you will get the warm colors that make things so perfect. Try this: take a photo of the beach around 12 noon, vs. 8pm, and you may never take a photo again at noon.

Cómo limpiar el objetivo de tu cámara de fotos - Lecciones de Fotografía

The beach is a dirty place. It seems like you always find that your camera equipment gets dirty. Two pieces of equipment you should always have is: lens cleaning cloth, and a blower brush for lenses.

photographer shooting on photo camera near ocean in cloudy day
Photo by Lachlan Ross on

This just has to be a tool that you need to get used to using: tripod for cameras. It will improve your photos more than you could imagine. Sharp photos = tripod for cameras.

Circular Polarizer Screw-In Filter - 25CP – The Tiffen Company
Before and after with a polarizing filter

The above photo should show you enough reason why you should use a good circular polarizing filter. If you care about the colors in your scenery photos, and especially the beach photos, please use a circular polarizing filter.

Just a quick note: if you click on the words in red, they will take you to a link that gives you more information about that word. Try it: circular polarizing filter

frozen wave against sunlight
Photo by Hernan Pauccara on

This is a great example of just one of the things you could try with a telephoto lens and a fast shutter speed. The telephoto lens will get you out on the water, and the fast shutter speed will stop the action of the waves. Have fun trying different things with controlling your shutter speed.

people surfing on sea waves
Photo by Jess Vide on

Another great example of a high shutter speed, and a good telephoto lens.

white row boat on body of water
Photo by Nuno Obey on

Find beaches that are not so crowded with people, and get some different types of photos. A telephoto lens may be able to get you this kind of photo, and get you away from the waves. There are a lot of beautiful things to take pictures of at the beach. Go enjoy.