Artist’s Statement

Touch is the first sense we develop in the womb, and we are born reaching for someone to hold on to. We hold hands for care, for safety, for comfort, and most of all to connect. When we are holding someone’s hand, the stress in our bodies reduces immediately. We feel less alone. We don’t even have to speak—our hands do it for us.

My ongoing quest to photograph people holding hands has led me to wonderful discoveries and what-ifs. After many experiments, I came to see that when you photograph someone walking toward you, their faces command all your attention. All you see is what they choose to reveal. It’s when they’re walking away that you really begin to see the world through their eyes. All of these little clues and details spring into focus. How did they get to this moment? Who are they to each other? I wonder who’s going to reach out first, who will let go first. I wonder what unspoken messages are being passed back and forth between those two people as they hold hands. 

Some could say that I’m taking advantage of people or sneaking up on them by taking their pictures from behind—for me it’s capturing real life as it is. Not showing their faces is a way of preserving their privacy while still catching them in a moment of spontaneity. These pictures had to be taken quickly, because it turns out that people don’t hold hands nearly long enough or often enough. 

I was stunned by the sense of well-being that came over me as I reviewed my photographs. I already knew that holding hands has been proven to reduce physical and emotional pain. I was amazed to find that simply looking at pictures of people holding hands could lift the spirits and bring a profound sense of inner peace.

It was in a search for healing connection that I created Holding Hands, and it is in that same spirit that I offer it to you. It is my hope that you will feel better each time you look at it. That is the simple power that human touch has in our lives.

—Diane M. Conn