"I've swum with them, climbed with them, gotten freaky with them. I've used them to put my ring on when I got married. I cycle with them. Coded software with them. I've expressed anger with them. I've flipped people off. I've broken them. I've defended myself with them. I shot hoops with them, both in high school, and semi-professionally. I've used them to hide and I've used them to distract. I've cleaned sinks and cleared trash with them. I've molded clay and made art with them. I've cooked with them and burnt them. I've saved people from drowning with them. Celebrated with them. Carried animals with them. I've measured with them. I've made music with them, and built bicycles with them. I've bent metal with them. And this morning, I put a butterfly ornament in my daughter's hair with them."
~ Marcus, age 41
* * * * * * *
I've always loved hands. I love that they literally hold so much of our history: they betray us our ages, show if we've lived a life of hard manual labour or relative comfort, they can tell tales of things we've made, or written, or hell, even photographed. I love how people adorn them with rings, or nailpolish, or even tattoos. My secret confession: often the first thing I check out of any person I'm meeting for the first time is their hands: it's not that I can tell anything about them definitively, of course, but I love how they spark my imagination about the kinds of pasts they might have experienced.
Incidentally, this is how all of my personal photography projects start: I'm playing around with the camera, and wonder what I might learn if I actually focused on one thing. So don't be surprised if you see some hands popping up on the site every once in a while; in fact, I may just start a new experiment, where I take portraits of people, ensuring their hands are in the picture, and ask them to tell me what their hands have done. This isn't for money or anything in particular -- just something I'd like to try. Something in tandem and in addition to my 1000 faces project.
It could happen.
Images: Photographed in our back garden with my Nikon D300, 50mm lens. All photos shot at aperture 1.4, ISO 200. Top two photos were shot at a shutter speed of 1/2500; bottom photo at 1/2000.