"What should I do with my hands?"

This is one of the most common questions I'm asked when taking family photos. Sometimes when starting out people feel weird and freeze up, and don't know how to act or what to do. Here's the secret -- you don't have to act at all. In my sessions I direct you the entire time and tell you exactly what to do. Most of the time I'll play games or give you little prompts so everyone can loosen up and just enjoy being together as a family, and that's where all the natural interactions and smiles happen.

But sometimes it's also nice to be given specific instruction of what to do... and where to put your hands! My clients always feel more comfortable for the posed shots when they're given a task or told how to stand and what to do.

So read on for a few tips and ideas of what you can do with your hands at your next photo shoot, or when your posing in photos in general.

bend an elbow

This is my number one tip for women and girls. Bend your limbs and you'll look so much better in pictures than just standing there. You can put your hand in a pocket, play with your necklace or hair, or grab your other elbow with your hand. These looks are easy and so natural!

walk hand in hand

This classic pose is foolproof. When kids are getting cranky and tired of sitting still, walking around holding hands or playing a game like ring around the rosie is a great way to get them moving and having a good time. Everyone has something to do and somewhere to put their hands.

environmental play

Little kids LOVE being outside and interacting with the environment. If there's water, they'll throw a rock in it. If there's some sand, they're going to want to dig. And these types of images make for great photos! The elements add texture and interest to the images, and the kids are all smiles. And of course, it gives everyone something to do with their hands.

Letting the kids play and explore during a photo shoot is essential in my book. Pick up rocks and sticks with them and explore together. Only then are kids going to have a good time and create a real memory, and then I'm there to capture it for you!

twirl your dress

For moms and little girls, twirling or holding out your dress in photos always looks great because it adds movement to the image, bringing it to life. If you're wearing a dress, just hold it out or give it a little swish and you're good to go.

hand to the neck

I love this casual and relaxed look. It's so flattering on women and makes them look confident but sweet.

Hand on knee

If you're next to someone you love, then you can touch them! Put your hand on their knee, around the waist, around their elbow. Pull them in close, relax in their presence.

hold your kids' hands

Hands being held connects people to each other, and that is a strong visual in a photo. It shows love and togetherness. Hold the hands of your kids, squeeze their sweet little fingers and soak it in. If you aren't sure what to do with your hands, just do something with your children. Put your hand on their shoulder, pull them in around their waist, or simply hold their hand.

group shots

For standard group shots of everyone standing and looking at the camera, I always tell people to get in close. Then the women bend a knee and put their hand on the elbow or the shoulder of the person next to them. Put your arms around your people and pull them in close! Men look great with hands in their pockets and their body weight on their back foot.

cuddles, squeezes, and tickles

Wrap up your littles in big hugs and squeezes. They will love it! Kids love when mom and dad squish them together like a sandwich or tickle their little bellies, it pulls out all the love and giggles.

The most important thing to remember about a photo shoot is to just relax and have fun with your family. Play with your kids and enjoy being together. If that happens, then you'll love the photos because you loved how you felt when you were there.

knowledge is confidence

So now next time you're posing for a photo, you know what to do. Save this post for later so you can remember all the different things you can do with your hands when you're in front of the camera. No need to stress or feel weird, just smile, be yourself, and use these tips to boost your confidence. You'll look great!

P.S. Share this post with someone who hates getting their picture taken so they can be more confident too!