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Picture Perfect: The Top 6 Hand Gestures People Make in Photographs

Ah, a picture paints a thousand words, so they say. A photograph captures a moment in time. It seizes a fleeting instance then preserves it as an image. When people are asked the theoretical question of what they will save if their house was on fire, a majority respond with their photographs. And the cat, of course. Pets aside, photos and images are valuable to us because they hold our memories. We then lovingly insert these photographs in our wallets. We proudly display them on top of the fireplace or on our desks at work. We tack them on kitchen cork boards beside our grocery lists. We even hold them up with magnets on the fridge right next to our phone bills! There are birthday photos, vacation photos, graduation photos, baby’s milestones photos and bachelorette party photos. Ooops, those ones you probably want to carefully filter, together with the other pictures taken on nights of drunken debauchery.

There are shy smiles, big grins, and goofy faces. However, a lot of people do more than just smile in pictures. Some sport quirky gestures and hand signs. These hand gestures become sort of a signature of the person who does it all the time when his photo is taken. Read on for some of the gestures and hand signs people flash when the shutter clicks.

1. The Peace Sign

Hand Gesture 1: The Peace Sign

Hand Gesture 1: The Peace Sign Photo Credit: iMorpheus

It’s a toss-up on who does this more and who did this first. This is arguably the most popular hand sign used in pictures. It’s also the easiest one to pull off so there’s no surprise there. Asians like Koreans like to hold up their forefinger and middle finger beside their faces when their photos are taken. So do those people who can vividly remember their days as hippies and flower children of the 60s and 70s. The peace sign is also popularly used during music festivals and concerts. Go to Coachella and you’ll see what we mean. Grungy-looking teenagers also flash this while grimly sitting on top of their skateboards on the curb. Backwards baseball cap, optional.

2. The Bunny Ears

Hand Gesture 2: The Bunny Ears

Hand Gesture 2: The Bunny Ears. Photo Credits: AbbyNormy

Ah, this is what we personally call “The Peace Sign at Someone Else’s Expense.” How does one make bunny ears? The forefinger and middle finger are still involved but, this time, one places them on top of someone’s head. Annoying little cousins, bratty siblings and pranksters are notorious for doing this. Perfectly stable and responsible people also do this especially while goofing around, say on road trips and at parties. A word to the wise: Though massively tempting, never attempt to make bunny ears on your boss. Or worse, on your prom date.

3. Blowing Kisses

Hand Gesture 3: Blowing Kisses

Hand Gesture 3: Blowing Kisses. Photo Credits: Carina Olsen

This one will look adorable in photos when done the right way. Basically, one just has to extend an open palm face up in front of the face then the lips are pouted as if blowing kisses in the wind. Very Scarlett O’Hara. Only females and the truly fab must attempt this. If you’re a straight male – no matter how awesome you believe you are – , don’t even think about it. It’s just royally wrong on so many levels.

4. The Thumbs-Up Sign

Hand Gesture 4: The Thumbs-Up

Hand Gesture 4: The Thumbs-Up. Photo Credits: QuinnAnya

The thumbs-up sign is called as such because the thumb is extended and is sticking out while the rest of the fingers are folded in. This sign is shown when one approves of something. In photos, people hold the thumbs-up sign when they’re about to partake of a tasty-looking meal, or about to engage in something fun but on the dangerous side, like skydiving.

Men, don’t use the thumbs-up sign if you’re taking photos (or a video) of your wife in pain in the labor room when she’s about to give birth. Believe me, you don’t want to mess with a hormonally enraged pregnant woman. Do this, and you won’t live to see another day.

5. The A-OK Sign

Hand Gesture 5: The A-Ok

Hand Gesture 5: The A-Ok. Photo Credits: Midweekpost

The A-OK sign is an upgrade to the thumbs-up sign. It’s used for the same purpose: to show approval or agreement, when you’re excited for something. The A-OK sign is made with the forefinger and the thumb meeting at their tips to form an O, while the other fingers are extended. People use this to show enthusiasm for something, like when on vacation and about to go surfing in Hawaii, or when about to get on Space Mountain at Disney World. If you’re male and over 18, please do not sport this sign while looking shadily at Snow White. Or her seven dwarves, for that matter.

6. The Rock On Sign

Hand Gesture 6: Rock On!

Hand Gesture 6: Rock On! Photo Credits:

Rock on signs abound at concerts and music fests. It is made with all the fingers extended, except for the ring and middle fingers. It is mandatory to flash this with an angst-ridden face or a pumped up expression for full effect. Sport this at the next Rage Against the Machine extravaganza, while head banging. This looks great in photos because you’ll be transported back to the exact moment when they played Guerilla Radio. We say music fests, but make the distinction. Do not flash the rock on sign at a Yo-yo Ma concert or when watching the New York Philharmonic. This is also a no-no at the ballet and the opera.

There you have it. You’ve just been given a list of things to do when your photo is taken other than to just say cheese. When used appropriately, these hand signs and gestures will make you stand out, keep things interesting, and spice things up. But as our disclaimers say, be careful not to misuse or overuse these. Not unless you want to get fired, dumped or plain ignored when others have their photos taken. Well, you get the picture. Pun intended.




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