How to Become a Hand Model in the UK

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Photo Source: ombra7/Shutterstock

Have you ever been complimented on your hands? Ever looked down at your own long, slim fingers and thought, These marvellous mitts are potentially world-class? If so, then the career of a commercial hand model might be for you.

It’s a competitive market, and hand models need to really look after their hands to compete. Although the industry is embracing a greater diversity of hands, typically successful hand models have narrow, slender fingers and unspotty skin. Usually they don’t have moles, freckles, blemishes, tattoos, or irregular shaped hands. Short nails are desirable for modelling household items, but when it comes to fashion, you’ll want longer nails.

Basically, elegant hands and clear skin that’s been well cared for will book jobs. Look after your hands and they’ll look after you. Your destiny is in your hands.

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What do hand models do?

Hand models are hired by companies to showcase their products, often in close up. Their work can involve lots of posing, gesturing, and waving – basically anything focusing on the hands. Hand models can be hired to sell anything from jewellery to sandwiches, and there is a market for all kinds of hands: male, female, and all ages and ethnicities.  

Hand models may not be recognised in the street, but that can be a positive. Because their face is not usually featured, hand models can work for all manner of companies even if they’re competing. So one day you could be holding a burger for Burger King and the next you’re fondly caressing a Big Mac; you’re just a body-less hand, so it’s fine. How, erm, handy.

How much money do hand models earn?

For most hand models, it’s not a full-time job. Models can be paid anything from a couple of hundred pounds to a thousand plus, but big money is not the norm. The fee usually depends on what you’re advertising, how big the brand is, and where your hands will be seen once the shoot is done. Also, remember that if you have an agent who helped you get the job, they’ll be wanting a cut, too. Basically, hand modelling is not a quick way to get rich, but it can be an interesting and occasionally lucrative gig.

What skills do I need?

Hand model

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This might seem like a weird question but it’s not. Yes, you need beautiful, well-cared-for hands, but you do also need to nail a very particular set of skills unrelated to your fingers, thumbs, and cuticles.

Firstly, a bit of self analysis is needed: Do you get bored easily? Can you stay still for long periods and not get impatient? Hand models need to be able to keep their hands really still for a long time, occasionally while holding heavy, awkward products. Some models use weights to improve their hand strength, but patience really is a virtue. If you get jittery or if your hands shake, then hand modelling will definitely not be for you.

Are you OK being treated like the person attached to your hands rather than the other way round? A hand model has solely been hired because of their fabulous hands. A photographer is only interested in your beautiful digits, so be prepared for that. You’ll also have to listen to instructions and take direction well. As with all areas of modelling, divas do not get rehired. 

Stuart Gee, a British hand model, told The Guardian: “With hand modelling, you do have to do a little bit of acting: you have to take directions, hit the right cues. In the modelling world, we’re at the bottom of the ladder. I’ve done campaigns with male models and they get fawned over, whereas we just get told, ‘Sit over there and wait until you’re called.’ ”

As with any creative job, researching your market is important. Look at the hands used in TV and print media. Are there poses that are being repeated? Practice your take on these poses. Can you express emotion using just your hands? If not, practice makes perfect. Take snaps on your phone, show your friends, and get familiar with how to use your hands successfully.     

Also, it’s important to remember that looking after the hands of a hand model takes commitment. Moisturiser, sunscreen, and gloves will become your constant friends. Protect your hands both from blemishes and ageing. Find a good manicurist, because you’ll be spending a lot of time with them, especially before any go-sees. Also, avoid anything that might damage your hands, like boxing or gardening. You don’t want to lose a big-money dream job just because you didn’t look after those elegant appendages.   

Hand model Andrew Bennett told The Guardian, “I don’t really make enough money from it to worry about insuring my hands, but I have certainly modified the way I work around the house. I used to work on my own car, for instance, but I don’t do that any more. If I know I’ve got a job coming up in the next few days, I’ll leave chores like working in the garden until afterwards.” Fellow hand model Laura Lorente admitted, “I don’t do any washing up at home, or cleaning,” which sounds like a job perk if ever we’ve heard one.

Do hand models have agents?

As in other areas of modelling, hand models are typically represented by agents. Agencies often specialise in body parts, generally representing not only hand models but also legs, feet, lips, teeth, and hair. Just some of the agencies in the UK which deal in this area include: Hired Hands, Mustard Models, Sandra Reynolds, Flair Talent, and BMA Hands.

Remember, no reputable agent will ask for money upfront.

How do I approach an agent?

The first step is to get your hands photographed by a professional who has done commercial photography. This is the equivalent of an actor’s headshots and is crucial for making a good first impression. Remember to include at least one shot of your face so you’re recognisable when you meet the bookers. 

Ideally your photographer will be able to help you put your hands in traditional poses seen in ads. Model your hands wearing jewellery, with nail polish and without, or holding food. Basically, you want the pictures to showcase your hands and your talents using them. Also, be your own agent. Use social media to promote yourself and your lovely hands with relevant hashtags.        

Once you’ve assembled your portfolio – both digital and physical – you are ready to approach an agency. Some agencies like you to submit your pix online, whereas others want to see you in person. We recommend giving the agency a quick call first just to check what they’d prefer. No point getting off on the wrong foot (or hand). 

Good luck!

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