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How to Become a Hand Model

So everyone from your boyfriend to your stepsister's in laws have told you that your hands are better looking than the ones featured in that new TV ad for the newest Fall fashion nail colors. And they are certainly nicer than those in the cat food ad. What do you do?

First, know that while your divine digits could definitely win a beauty contest against those appearing in those national ads, that still doesn't mean you are "hand queen" (or "king") material. While some ads feature top hand models, there's always the possibility that the hands featured were not of a professional hand model, but rather those of a studio employee. This can happen when the studio forgets to book a hand model or the shot comes up to late to get one, so Jennifer in reception is prevailed upon to be the hand star for a day. Or the studio/photographer/client (or all of the above) are looking to save a buck..

But then again, the less than glorious looking hands in the ad may be pro, however the lighting was harsh to better show off the product (which is always the true star of any ad), or the positioning of the hands was less than flattering. The point is, just like faces, some hands photograph better than others, and hands, like faces, look good or not depending on many variables which have little to do with true "beauty". While hands don't have to create and hold wonderful expressions, they do have to be able to convey a certain "smartness", especially in commercials, where accuracy under pressure counts and where there is no retouching.

So, the first thing you need to do is to assess your assets. How is your skin tone? Modern film is too sensitive to allow for any makeup beyond a "dot" of touch up pencil for a "dot" of a birthmark. Are you nails uniformly nicely shaped? A slightly crooked finger which will be lovingly overlooked by your lover will kick you out of the running in this highly competitive business. How wide is the back of your hand? This is mainly for women. While a few can survive in the business with a wide "back end", a narrow back of the hand is a real plus. And most important of all, do you have a really good thumb? Think about most of the print and TV hand shots you see. They more often than not show the product (box, bottle or tube) being placed into a scene, and your thumb will be 1/3 the size of the TV screen, so it better look good.

Okay, you're still ready and eager to bravely endure every handjob joke ever thought of, so your next step is to create pictures to be submitted to an agency. Do not pay for pictures. Get a friend with a Polaroid or an inexpensive camera. Do your homework by going through magazines and finding ads featuring hands similar to yours (housewife, executive, glamour, or hopefully all of the above). Get props, like a coffee jar, or toothpaste, or whatever. Now try to simulate the ads and poses using your own hands. Don't fuss with lighting, as the professional ad will usually be lit for the product anyway. These pictures will tell you whether your hands photograph well and whether they look great in the poses for product ads that feature hands.

Getting into hand modeling is really just like getting into any modeling. Search for reputable local modeling agencies in your area. Reputable is the operative word here, as you don't want to find yourself in a compromising position in an office which is a schill for beauty or charm school, or worse, a porn operation. Modeling agencies will rarely have a separate hand department. Call and request an interview, mentioning that you have pictures of your hands. If they ask if they are professional shots, tell the truth, but also, having done your homework, you can mention that they simulate current ads. If you are told that they aren't seeing people right now, ask for a convenient time to call back and make note of the date for follow up.

Now that you have your first interview appointment, dress simply but nicely. Although you are really just trying to sell your hands, your whole package should look comely, neat, and professional. If the agency is going to send you out on interviews (or "calls" as they are referred to), you want to be a fine representative of their roster of talent. If they are interested, hopefully, they will send you to do tests(or test shots) with local photographers. This gives the agency feed back from their favorite photographers, and can get you started on a terrific professional book of photos of your hands.

Here's a special tip that has helped me get tests with some top rate photographers: They are always looking for dynamic new shots to promote new business with ad agencies, and you can help them. Think up some startling new photo concept which features hands, like a woman's hands breaking through a "glass ceiling", or holding up what seems to be a massive globe of the world. Use your wildest imagination and you'll get your pictures and your start in the business of hands. Not easy, but I warned you it took more than a perfect ten to get a grasp on success.

What's it like on the set? Here's a list of the team that shoots a commercial.

Hands, by Linda Rose

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"Years ago, when doing a commercial shoot for Revlon or Jergens, I would resort to all kinds of messy peels, scrubs, expensive creams, and gloves to make my hands camera-ready. Now, my line of creams will give everyone the hands her face deserves.

-- Linda Rose in
Town & Country

Linda Rose in Town & Country

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