Where to put arms in a portrait?

01 June 2018

Children-Where to put your arms in a portraitSometimes when taking photos of children, they put a lot of energy into their smile but stand with their arms and hands down by their sides like they have no clue what to do with them.

OK – we adults are the same too! What on earth do we do with these two long limbs that are hanging around and have suddenly got no purpose as soon as a camera appears.

Don’t get me wrong, it can look OK, but often, arms down the side just creates a long, narrow, and dare I say boring, image.

So here are some tips on how to get rid of those lollipop arms. I’ve added some images for you to see examples.

The first image. This shows the boy’s arms down by the side. It’s not too bad but if it was full body shot it would be very soldier like. There are no hands either, which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but I find hands to be a great addition to portraits where possible.

The second image. I captured the child as he ran towards me, his arms in motion. – Running around is a good one for your child to do. It gets their arms moving and swaying in the photograph not to mention genuine happiness- and it shows in the photo. Notice his hand holding a buttercup too – so sweet!

The third image. Here he was collecting dandelions. Using flowers and other props ( even an ice-cream) can be very effective so this was a great opportunity. These are more candid, natural images where they child is doing what they want to do, and often the arms will ‘pose’ automatically. This picture tells more of a story about the child and what he enjoys to do at the innocent age of 6 (maybe not so much by the time he is 10!)

The forth image. The woods are great as there are many things to put the arms and hands around.  Simply positioning one hand on the tree will help loads with the composition of a photo.

Here, I told him to wrap his arms around the tree, but he is also casually fidgeting with a piece of catchweed. I love this, as even though it’s posed, it’s so laidback, and again, like the third image I think it’s a glimpse of his personality.

The fifth image. Lastly, holding onto branches; the kids are usually in their element in trees so it makes for great photos, this time his posture is open and playful. It appears less posed than the forth image; more candid and dynamic!

Children portrait RJM-Photography

The six and seventh images This last set shows how the arms are all pretty much just hanging in no:6 – I think the kids faces say it all! It’s a nice portrait but a bit lacking in energy compared to the next along which shows more personality (yes, that word again). Their arms are doing something useful or interesting and somehow the children seem to have a closer bond in the second version even though there is more space around and between them.

Hope you’ve found these tips useful.

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