‘Hands’ Photo Assignment Post Mortem

This photo assignment was all about hands. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

This photo assignment was all about hands. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

There were several really nice images submitted for the ‘Hands’ photo assignment. The Assignment was worded this way:

Photo Assignment #3: ‘Hands’

Hands are one of the most interesting and expressive parts of the human body. Our hands reveal a lot about us: whether we live a hard or soft life, whether we ‘work with our hands’ for our jobs (or don’t), maybe something about the type of work we do. They can also simply be great expressive elements, denoting excitement, calm, anger, even serenity or in the case of infants, innocence. So: go out and shoot a NEW photograph in which hands (or a single hand) are a central element. The only requirement is that the hands really tell us something about the person that the hands belong to, whether that person is in the frame or not.

So we were looking for photographs that communicated something vital about the individual to whom the hand was attached, correct?

Here are a few of my favorite images from the group submitted, along with short explanations for why I thought the images worked.

Untitled, by JackAz.

Untitled, by JackAz.

A simple image, maybe a cliche. But a real storyteller of a shot! We know that here we have love, a commitment, an upcoming wedding–all from the simple image of these two hands. My negative here is only the lighting, which is very flat. But the message communicated is strong and unequivocal. Excellent fulfillment of the assignment.

Pointing hand, by terryshnaucer.

Pointing hand, by terryshnaucer.

Although I find the division of the background into black/white a bit distracting, the hand itself tells me many things. This hand belongs to a person of privilege, doesn’t it? Someone with money and power: the pearls and signet ring are great hints of a patrician lifestyle. Again, well done!

Farrier, by Enivea.

Farrier, by Enivea.

These hands belong to a working man--someone who uses them to make his living. I love the richness in the earth tones of this photo: the interplay between the mottled abstraction of the farrier’s apron and the iridescent beauty in the horse’s hoof.  Only criticism: I would try cropping in just a bit on the right, to center our attention more on the knife-holding hand and the hoof, not giving such equal weight to the other, less interesting hand on the right.

'Washing hands,' by Blacktau.

'Washing hands,' by Blacktau.

Finally, a truly nice photograph that really doesn’t fulfill the assignment. This is a beautiful shot, isn’t it? But it’s actually a beautful shot of water, not of hands, which are almost incidental here. Great shot, but not great for this assignment. Sometimes we have to not let ourselves fall in love with an image, if it doesn’t tell the story we’re trying to tell.

SO: great job to all that participated! And to the hundreds of you others that merely  thought about getting out and shooting the assignment, three lashes with an old roll of Tri-X for you! (Don’t know what Tri-X was? Tsk, tsk!)

Let me know what you think of these images, and my thoughts about them, in the Comments below. Do you agree or disagree with my reasoning? Do any of these images evoke something else entirely in you? There are no incorrect answers here, just opinions. I’d love to hear yours!

Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Or subscribe to our Facebook page or our Twitter feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog

Posted in: Gallery

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

3 Comments on "‘Hands’ Photo Assignment Post Mortem"

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  1. fiuinha says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I agree in general with your comments about the chosen photos, but in my opinion I would not have chosen the 2nd photo although is eligible for the assignment. It´s was very interesting the photos posted for this assignment, not an easy task to choose I think 😉

  2. Thanks Ana. The second image is not great in terms of composition, is it? But it does reveal something about the person….so I singled it out.

  3. Enivea says:

    Many thanks for selecting my farrier shot Andrew! I appreciate the comment about cropping, and will attend to it, and try to remember for future similar shots.

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