• The following paragraphs are excerpts from my book about my years in modeling, titled "Hand Job". The first part of the book contains entertaining stories about how I moved into the business of hand/parts modeling, and the second part is a "How To" section on how to get into the business. "Hand Job" can be purchased on, and an e-book is available at Do a search for the author name Mike Ramsey and the title Hand Job. Must-Dos To Be Taken Seriously In Hand/Parts Modeling (1) Build a portfolio of hands and parts photographs. As with all modeling portfolios, tearsheets of actual jobs are the best, but great photos showing your hands (or parts) in a variety of poses will show what you can do. Make sure that you have at least one photo clearly showing your face, not only to open up the possibility that you might get bookings that show your face, but also so that the client knows who you are when you walk in for your hand booking. I also recommend that you include at least one hand shot in your regular modeling portfolio, just in case. (2) Print a hands/parts composite. Be sure to include all of the necessary statistics on the card. For the same reasons mentioned above for the portfolio, it never hurts to have at least one photo showing both hands and face on your hands card. Again, it also is a good idea to add a hand shot to your regular modeling composite. (3) Buy a listing in the parts section of your agency's headbook. I recommend that you have pages in both parts, and fashion or commercial print, depending upon which category you best represent. (4) Keep hands/parts in great shape. A scratch can cost you not only this job, but other jobs with the same client in the future. Eat right, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and take vitamin supplements, with emphasis on B-complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, and Omega 3 oils (fish or flax). Ideally, you should never have to clip your nails. Filing nails regularly keeps them the proper length. Keep your hands moist and never let them dry out. This is hard in the winter, when lower humidity tends to cause lots of dry skin problems. Experiment with lotions, moisturizers, or glycerine to see which works best on your skin. Price is not a good gauge as to which will work best for you. Often, the lowest price product works as well or better than the higher priced ones. (5) Learn how to control movement. Steady hands get work the second time. Practice on a musical instrument or computer keyboard is a good way to simulate the motor skills needed for hand modeling. I have found that taking moderate amounts of Magnesium supplements can help to steady shaky hands. (6) Make a point of letting all your regular modeling clients know you do parts. Like any business, you must market yourself continually. This may mean going back through your client list and seeing each one again. This is not only essential to be able to get hand bookings, but also gives you a great excuse to remind those same clients that you do other types of modeling, while you're there. Misconceptions About Hand/Parts Modeling (1) Anybody can be a hand model. While it is true that hand/parts models are often not what you would call fashion models, it never hurts to make yourself look your best. If you were the client, and two hand models came in for the audition, which would you choose, the average one or the attractive one? Many of my hand bookings came from previous fashion shoots, where someone noticed my hands. Likewise, I was booked for fashion jobs, as a direct result of someone noticing my overall look while on a hand photography set. Present the best package possible. (2) You have to go to a professional manicurist to make your nails look good. You can learn how to make your nails and skin look as good or better than a professional, for modeling shoots. Buy a good manicure kit. Learn what moisturizer or lotion makes your skin smooth. I used glycerine and applied it with cotton swabs. I knew a few women who were hand models who even slept with gloves on at night. I never went that far, but then I also had trouble sometimes covering up scratches from being a regular guy. Women can get more jobs in all types of modeling, including parts modeling, so it might be a good investment to take care of your hands. (3) Hand/parts models don't have to prepare as much for jobs as fashion models. While you don't have to sit in a chair and have your makeup and hair done for hours, it may take you as long to prepare your nails and skin to look good. Remember, all hand/parts by definition are closeups. I used a photographer's lupe (magnifying device used to view slides) to see what was going on close up. It may look strange, but you'll get more work when your hands never have any dry spots, split cuticles, or uneven white space under the nail. (4) Hand/parts models don't have to worry about what they wear to the job. Professional hand/parts models usually have "brings", or items of clothing, jewelry, or accessories that the photographer may want you to have with you. It may be long sleeved shirts or jackets, watches, rings or anything that the client thinks makes their product look better. (5) Additionally, close up photography has specific requirements that other types of photography do not. You may be asked to wear black clothing to avoid reflecting the strobe, or there may a particular need for the job or client. Try to wear comfortable clothing. You may be in awkward or uncomfortable positions for long periods of time, and you don't want your clothes to pinch or add to your discomfort. Read more in the book "Hand Job". For more information, go to
  • Interestingly, in most markets, the pay rate for hands and/or parts modeling is the same hourly rate for fashion or commercial modeling. You are paid for your time, regardless of what parts of you the client uses. You do not have to travel, although I ended up doing a lot of work in markets all over the country and even in other countries, when clients began to hear of my reputation. I had agents in many U.S. cities and in other countries, and whenever I would go to a market for any type of job, they would let their clients who used hand models know that I was in town. The trick is to get one or two clients in your market who use hand models regularly. In my local market, Radio Shack did a lot of in-house photography to sell computers, cell phones, etc., and they used me quite a bit. In addition to being a steady source of income, I was able to use the ads from their jobs to show other clients and get such jobs from them. When clients know that you can do a good job for them, they will use you as much as possible. They are looking to get the job done as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. The best thing about hand work is that you can't get overexposed like you can in fashion or commercial, and clients can use you for every job they shoot. You can be the hand in one fried-chicken commercial one day, and a competitor fried-chicken commercial the next. While I might not have been paid any more for any one job, I worked much more steadily in hand work than I did in fashion, commercial, or fitness modeling. It became my main source of income. That may take a while, and may not be possible in every market, but it is worth the effort to find out.

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