Why I photograph hands

I love how expressive hands are. They augment and colour the stories we tell, and speak to things that lie beyond and behind words. Yet surprisingly in the every day we seem to barely notice them – unless they’re not there or are shaped differently, have gathered scars or carry dramatic adornments.

I love too that hands are so intimate and personal – yet strongly universal. I love that they can connect us with the ordinary warmth, joy, pain and beauty of being people together on the planet.

I love the way images of hands awaken our imagination. We connect to the things we hold in common, and are intrigued when the meaning of these images is harder to read. Though both connecting and affecting I appreciate that images of hands also preserve a kind anonymity – the person in the image is unknown, except to their most intimate companions.

I love that it’s usually ok to photograph hands. I know that for some of us having our face’s photographed is uncomfortable or offensive – whereas photographing hands can be less invasive. I’ve also noticed that when we view traditional facial portraits it seems we’re quick to judge what we think is happening for the person in the image. With hand portraits it seems we’re less visually literate – we make fewer assumptions, we ask more questions and as a result perhaps we are humbler, and better able to honour or engage with what we’re seeing.