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Complete Guide to Hand Modelling

Learn all there is to know about the little-known niche of hand modelling

Hand modeling is a niche yet in-demand segment of the modeling industry, often underestimated but with significant opportunities. Assuming you’re interested in hand modeling, this guide aims to cover all the basics and more, providing comprehensive insights into becoming a hand model and what to expect in the industry. While we can’t guarantee you’ll become the world’s greatest hand model, we’re here to help you get started on your journey.

What is a hand model?

A hand model is someone who models accessories and products that are primarily for hands. This could be anything from jewellery through to hand lotion and much more besides. A hand model’s main feature is their hands and quite often the rest of their body (or very little of it) will feature in any images used in an advertising campaign.

Can anyone be a hand model?

Yes, anyone can be a hand model, but the industry will often have some pretty strict requirements for hand modelling assignments.

Generally speaking, you will need to have:

  • Blemish and callus-free hands
  • Healthy fingernails
  • No scarring
  • No tattoos
  • Long fingers and slender hands

About Hand Modelling briefs

Now, while diversity is an important aspect for many brands these days, there are fewer briefs for hand models with scarring, tattoos, or those who are plus-sized. We’re by no means saying that people within these brackets cannot get work as hand models, it’s just that the majority of briefs for hand modelling assignments will come with the requirements listed above.

One question we’re often asked about hand modelling is how long your nails should be. The answer is however long you want them to be. Briefs for different products will require different nail lengths. For example, if you’re modelling a household item, clients usually prefer short nails while beauty brands will often prefer long nails. The length of your nails will determine the briefs that you are put forward for so have a think about the kind of work you want to do or ask your agency what kind of briefs are the most common and make your decision based on that. Oh, one thing we will say though is that male hand models are expected to have short nails — we don’t make the rules!

While those general requirements are somewhat important, they’re not the be-all and end-all of hand modelling. What we’re really saying here is that if you want to be a hand model with tattoos or scarring, then go for it. Just know that it may take a little longer to succeed.

Is hand modelling easy?

In a word, no. There are no types of modelling that are easy and just like fitness modelling or runway modelling, you’ll need to work hard as a hand model.

 

Hand modelling assignments can be a couple of hours for a quick photo shoot to an entire day of filming for a TV commercial. And trust us, even though it’s ‘only’ your hand that is in front of the camera, a full day of modelling can be extremely tiring. There’s also the travel to and from assignments to consider.

 

On the mental side of things, you’ll also need to learn to be extremely patient and know how to handle rejection. This is because like any other modelling niche, hand modelling is competitive and a client may not think that your hand is quite suited to a project or ad campaign.

What skills do hand models need?

As you may have guessed by now, hand modelling is a serious job and as with all serious jobs some skills are required. One of the most important is the ability to keep a steady hand for prolonged periods of time. This is so much more difficult than you might think. Imagine holding a water bottle during a shoot and you have to keep absolutely still while the photographer takes multiple shots from a variety of angles — not so easy, right? Yes, you’ll need a strong and steady hand.

 

But it’s not just about a steady hand. You’ll also need to be physically fit and agile as you may find that you’ll need to hold your body in strange positions during shoots. This is because more often than not, the client won’t want your body to appear in the shot.

 

You’ll also need to have nice fluid movements when doing anything with your hand. Regardless of the product you’re promoting, clients want to see graceful movements or at least the ability to move slowly and deliberately when performing an action. One of the most difficult actions that a hand model may need to perform is pouring a liquid. Yep, it sounds silly but if you think about it, pouring water into a glass in one smooth fluid motion is quite the task. Stick that one on your to-do list for hand modelling skills to practise.

There are a variety of hand exercises that you can do to strengthen the muscles in your hand and fingers. This will help immeasurably when it comes to those long hours of holding your hand steady so have a look at a few and work them into your daily routine. That said, you don’t want to overdo it and hurt yourself so take it slow and steady — this is starting to look like a theme!

Hand model work and assignments

Hand models will often work across a broad range of industries advertising anything and everything that is hand-related and quite a lot of stuff that is not.

 

Generally speaking, most hand modelling assignments are for print campaigns or TV commercials. Assignments for print campaigns will see you spend a few hours or more in a studio striking your best hand poses while TV commercial shoots could be in a studio or on location.

 

What’s really interesting about the hand modelling industry is the fact that the range of companies and products you will be working with is nothing short of diverse to say the least. You’ll have your usual products such as jewellery, lotions, beauty products, and even accessories such as gloves.

 

But then you’ll also have a whole range of other assignments that you never even thought of as hand modelling jobs. What about a pencil or a paint brush? A hand-held drill or a water bottle. If you can hold it in your hand, then the chances are that a company will want a hand model to help promote this product. There are even hand modelling assignments for fast food chains, drinks companies, and even household cleaning items. One thing you’ll find about hand modelling is that it’s far from boring!

How much do hand models get paid?

Believe it or not, hand models can be paid quite well, but as with all types of modelling, how much you make per year really depends on the industry. If it’s a great year with lots of hand-modelling briefs coming thick and fast, you could make as much as a traditional fashion model. However, we’ll just remind you that your earnings also depend on how much effort you put into your modelling.

 

What do we mean by that? Well, a fashion model must take care of themselves, eat healthily, get enough sleep and exercise, and improve their modelling skills along the way. And yes, you guessed it, a hand model is no different. Your financial rewards tend to tie in closely with how much effort and hard work you put into your craft.

 

Hand models can expect to make somewhere in the region of $350-$600 for a day’s work when starting out. But full-day shoots aren’t always that easy to come by so don’t expect to be making that on a daily basis. However, as we said earlier, if you’re patient and keep plugging away, you’ll get your chance to show off those hands.

 

Once you have established yourself as an easy-to-work-with hand model, you may get to the point where clients specifically ask for you — or your hands to be more precise. This is when you can conceivably start forging a lucrative career for yourself. In some cases, hand models have been known to command thousand-dollar fees for a day of shooting. Not bad for a day’s work!

A hand model’s tips for hand care

If you’re serious about becoming a hand model, then you need to first get serious about hand care. That means taking very good care of your hands in every conceivable way. Here are a few hand care tips that we’ve gleaned from hand models that we have worked with in the past. Ignore them at your peril.

Moisturise

Start by moisturizing your hands regularly to keep them in prime condition, avoiding over-moisturizing to prevent them from looking prune-like. Apply moisturizer after showers, dishwashing, and swimming, as chlorine can dry out your skin. Stick with your favorite moisturizer if it works well, without feeling compelled to purchase expensive products.

Don’t experiment

As a hand model, avoid experimenting with new creams, lotions, or nail polishes to prevent adverse reactions or scarring that could sideline your career. If considering a new product, conduct a patch test on your arm first to mitigate risks.

Leave your cuticles alone

A lot of people like to cut their cuticles in an effort to have the perfect nail. Don’t do it. Your cuticles are natural and they’re supposed to be there. This means that a client will expect to see them. Besides, cutting cuticles can be painful and result in infections or sore spots which can limit your ability to work. Remember, a client wants to see natural hands, so leave your cuticles alone.

Take proper care of hangnails

Hangnails are those little bits of skin that grow to the side of your finger nails. These can be a little ugly when left unmanaged and a client will not want to see them in an ad campaign. Take proper care of hangnails by trimming them back as close to the nail as possible without cutting yourself and then treat them with cuticle oil. What you should never do is simply pull at hangnails — ouch!

Don’t overwash your hands

During the pandemic we were encouraged to wash our hands as often as possible. However, there is such a thing as too often. Soaps and hand gels can damage your skin when used too much so try not to get your hands dirty so you don’t need to wash them often. A good tip is to use a simple and natural soap or hand sanitiser that is gentle on your hands.

Wear sun protection

The hands are an often ignored body part when it comes to sun protection, and while it’s important for everyone to protect their skin from the ravages of the sun, it’s twice as important for your hands. Always wear sunscreen when you go out and keep a small tube of sunscreen with you at all times. You never know when you might need to protect your hands when the rest of you is already covered up.

Always wear gloves when washing or cleaning

As you can guess, if too much soap can damage your skin then too much of any household cleaning product will do a whole lot worse. So whenever you need to wash the dishes, scrub the bathroom, or wash the car, stick on a pair of well-fitting rubber gloves. The same can be said for painting and decorating around the house — gloves will keep any damaging chemicals away from your skin.

Keep manicures to a minimum

Hand models should limit manicures, as professional styling is provided for most assignments. Excessive manicures can lead to over-manicured, weak nails prone to breakage, affecting work capability. If opting for a manicure, ensure minimal cuticle interference and avoid excessive buffing to maintain nail strength.

Protect your hands

Remember what we said about your hands being your career? Well, that means that you don’t want to be doing anything that might damage them, and we’re not just talking about damage from cleaning products. If you’re doing any gardening, sewing, DIY, or even craftwork, wear gloves. Simple as that. Any nicks and cuts to your hands could see you miss out on an opportunity to work simply because you weren’t careful or forgot to put on your gloves.

Don’t overwash your hands

Some hand models will advise you not to use too much nail polish while others will tell you to avoid it completely. We would agree with the ‘avoid it completely’ camp. As we mentioned earlier, your nails will likely have some sort of product put on them during your assignments and that’s probably about as much as they can handle if you want them to stay healthy. And healthy nails are exactly what a client wants to see.

How to get started as a hand model

Familiarizing yourself with the specific requirements and trends in hand modeling, such as hand poses and product types commonly featured, will prepare you for success in this specialized field.

Take care of your hands

The first step and we really mean the very first step any prospective hand model should take in their new career is to start taking good care of their hands. Now, luckily for you, the tips we just shared above means that you know exactly how to get started on that right away.

 

You might even want to create a hand care routine that you go through each and every day just to be sure that your hands are always in good condition and that good hand care becomes second nature to you. The reason this should be your first step is because there is quite literally no point in looking for work if you don’t have hands that are, at the very least, photogenic.

Find an agency

It might not be the first step in your hand modelling career, but it is easily one of the most important. You’ll need to find yourself an agency that will help you promote yourself (and your hands) to the right clients. Now, you can by all means try to represent yourself, but this can be quite challenging. This is mostly due to the fact that hand modelling briefs are rarely released to the general public. Clients will pretty much always come directly to an agency looking for a hand model as it’s quite a specific job.

 

Finding the right agency isn’t quite as straightforward as it may seem. There are a lot of red flags to watch out for because, believe it or not, some agencies are just looking for your membership fee and will do nothing to promote you. So take this step very seriously and do your homework. Speak to a few agencies and don’t just sign for the first one you come across. Ask to see their previous modelling success stories even if they are not for hand models. This way you’ll know that the agency has a proven track record of working with well-known clients and brands.

 

You should also have a good chat with the agency before signing so they can explain their process and how they hope to promote you. And if you get a bad feeling, trust your gut and look elsewhere.

Create a portfolio

Next on the list after you find an agency is to create a portfolio. We recommend that you do this step after signing with an agency as they’ll be able to give you some advice on a local photographer who works with models and what kind of images you should include in your portfolio. Portfolios can also be expensive so it’s good to get a professional opinion on your chances of success before investing in one.

 

When you decide to create a portfolio it’s essential that you work with a professional photographer. No self-taken snaps will do as clients expect to see what your hand looks like in a professional studio environment with all the right lighting. This is also the main reason why you should work with a photographer who has model experience. They’ll understand all the right angles and make sure to highlight the best features of your hand and include those shots in your portfolio.

 

We suggest checking out some portfolios of professional hand models such as Nina Taylor, Delphine Jean-Gilles, Annabel Capper, and Andrew Bennet. This will give you an idea of the various poses and shots required for a great portfolio. Checking out these models’ work will also inspire you to work hard as they are some of the most successful hand models in the industry.

Work on your skills

Last but by no means least is to work on those skills that we mentioned earlier. Set yourself a hand exercise routine and practice keeping a steady hand each and every day. It’s also a good idea to try some positioning with your hand so that when you land your first assignment, you can pull out some hand poses without having to think too much about it.

 

Just remember, that honing those skills every day could mean the difference between success and failure so stick with it!

How to prepare for a hand model shoot

If you’re lucky enough to land your first assignment, there are a few things that you’ll want to do in the days leading up to the job so that you’re well prepared.

 

The first and most obvious of those is to protect your hands. You don’t want to inadvertently nick a finger or bruise your hand through a clumsy accident so as soon as you find out that you are booked, avoid doing anything that might damage your hands.

 

It may be a good idea to get a fresh manicure unless the client has instructed you not to. Just make sure to warn the manicurist that you’re about to do some hand modelling work and that your cuticles must not be cut and to go easy on the buffing.

Avoid coffee or anything with caffeine. For real. Too much caffeine the night before a shoot can get you all jittery and that means unsteady hands. Now, we know what you’re thinking; ‘I don’t get the coffee shakes!’ and perhaps you don’t. But better safe than sorry, right?

 

The last of our prep tips is to always know exactly where you’re going. There’s nothing worse for a client than having a model who arrives late and wastes everyone’s time. So double check with your agency about the location of the assignment, nearby parking or public transport. And always leave in plenty of time just in case something holds you up along the way.

 

And that’s all there is to it. If you work hard and continue to brush up on those skills while taking good care of your hands, there’s no reason why you can’t become a hand double for a movie star or model products that are global household names. But as we keep reminding you, success in any type of modelling requires a lot of patience. Some models that we have represented have gone for months on end with no opportunities and then all of a sudden, they’re the hottest models in the industry!

Interested in becoming a hand model?

If you’re interested in becoming a hand model and you’re looking for professional representation, then why not give us a shout here at Hunter Talent. We’d be more than happy to have a chat with you to see if we’re a good fit for each other. Even if you opt to sign with another agency, we genuinely hope that the advice in this guide helps you along the way.

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