Hands (and fingers) can send bad messages in your photographs

Props? Concealment? What’s the best solution for dangling digits?

Props? Concealment? What’s the best solution for dangling digits?

A local high school football team lost by three touchdowns last month to an opponent it should have beaten handily. The game outcome isn’t of much interest to communicators until you realize the reason for the loss—someone fumbled the team photo.

After the picture had been printed in football programs and after poster-size photos were hung in area restaurants and businesses, it was discovered that nine of the gridiron greats were flashing an “avian salute.”

When school officials discovered the hand gestures, the notorious nine were suspended for a game, which the team lost.

A week or so later at another high school, the homecoming court was dethroned after a photo in the town paper revealed the male court jesters displaying hand signals that took me back to my first imitations of Spock’s Vulcan greeting.

They’re just teen pranks, of course, but they raise a question for communicators who are taking pictures or selecting photos for print and electronic publications: What do your subjects do with their hands?

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