Previous Next

All photos by Lola Akinmade.

Photography is about taking risks. Facing dangers and making leaps. Sometimes literally…

THERE’S nothing more liberating than a good jump. A whoop is good; a boogie on a dance floor can be great. But thrusting yourself skyward is – unless you’re a stuntman, ballet dancer, hyperactive four-year-old, or astronaut – a vastly underrated activity.

Even better, from a photography point of view, is the ability to capture a good jump: to freeze a leap of joy forever, preserve it in digital amber, as it were. One of our very own Matadorians, travel writer and photographer Lola Akinmade, has mastered not only the art of defying gravity but also the skill of photographing herself doing it.

She’s jumped in Egypt, Hungary, and in snow. She’s jumped during the day and at night, straddling seas and castles as she pirouettes and bounds across the global landscape. If you don’t believe us, just look here.

Here are Lola’s five tips for creating fun jump shots.

1) Forget about self-timers

Getting a good jumping shot with a self-timer can be very tricky and frustrating, so why not grab a perfect stranger to help you?

Nothing breaks the awkwardness between strangers faster than sharing in a silly activity.

2) Scope out your angle

I’ll let you in on a little secret….. I don’t jump as high as it looks. I spend a few seconds quickly gauging a scene, looking for interesting angles.

I find high ledges to launch off so my photographer can capture me floating in the air while cutting out the ledge from their camera frame.

Sometimes, I kindly ask that they squat a little lower.

You are the photographer, not the person snapping your photo so use all your composition techniques to set up the shot before handing off your camera to them.

3) Preset your camera settings

Most passers-by are usually intimidated when handed a bulky DSLR camera by a complete stranger. To make it easier, I preset the right ISO, shutter speed, focal zoom length, exposure, and other crucial settings so all they have to do is stand on the spot I tell them to and hit the shutter button.

4) Nail your timing

This will naturally come with practice, but when someone else is photographing you, factor in a 1/2 second delay. I usually do a test jump to evaluate my photographer’s speed when clicking. By reviewing the photograph, I can jump slower or faster for the next shot which gives the snapper enough time to take a decent jumping shot.

5) Use your limbs

Kick out your legs. Flail your arms. Using your limbs in an exaggerated fashion makes your jumping shot more interesting and dynamic especially when silhouetted against a sunset or sunrise.

Check out Lola’s jumping gallery on Flickr.

And for further inspiration, head to this gallery of “jumpology”.

MatadorU Travel Photography Program

MatadorU’s Travel Photography Program gives you direct feedback on your work, and lifetime access to the most supportive, dynamic, and fun community of Travel Writers, Travel Photographers, and New Media Professionals on the web.

About The Author

Paul Sullivan

Paul Sullivan is a freelance writer, author, editor and photographer covering music, travel and culture. His writing and photography work has been published in The Guardian, Sunday Times Travel, National Geographic UK, Matador Network, Wax Poetics, XLR8R and more, and he has scribed/snapped several guidebooks for Time Out, HG2, Rough Guide, Cool Camping and others. He currently lives in Berlin, where he runs the sustainable travel portal Slow Travel Berlin. Check out his photography website, follow him on Twitter or join hisFacebook photography page.

  • http://matadortrips.com/ Hal Amen

    So famous, that leap :)

  • joshua johnson

    Lola has hops!

  • http://www.mikesryukyugallery.com Ryukyu Mike

    Love it. Lola’s gotta Copyright or Patent this technique. Just made my day. Couple a shots a Cortizone and a sunny day, I;ll be out there practicing !

    • http://www.lolaakinmade.com Lola

      @Mike – Maybe we should do a Matador jumping photo essay where we get everyone to send in pictures of themselves from around the world :)

  • http://matadornights.com tom gates

    Puppies and Lola’s leaps – two things that are guaranteed to make me smile. “Kick out your legs. Flail your arms.”

    • http://www.lolaakinmade.com Lola

      @Tom – Haha, I’ll take puppies any day!

  • Adri

    Nice, thank you for the tips, coz I love to jump too!!! Lola, love your jump shots!

  • http://www.lolaakinmade.com Lola

    @Everyone – Thanks! Seriously though, we could totally do a Matadorian jumping photo essay.

  • Claire

    My other suggestion is using sports mode on a DSLR (continuous shooting) – then you have a number of frames to choose from and aren’t as reliant on the photographer pressing the button at the right time

  • http://www.ritztravelz.com cheap tickets to india

    Awesome pictures. very intriguing.

  • http://www.nehasweb.com neha

    Lola these photos are crazy! In one you are jumping in heels! I can’t even stand straight in the damn things. Crazy!

    • http://www.lolaakinmade.com Lola

      @Neha – Had to land on my toes with the heel jump…otherwise….ouch!

  • http://www.Travel-Writers-Exchange.com Travel-Writers-Exchange.com

    Photography can be fun. Can you still get a decent “jump shot” with a digital camera or do you need a more expensive camera with a lens and other upgrades? Maybe it doesn’t matter as long as you time it right and find the best angle.

    • http://www.lolaakinmade.com Lola

      A point-and-shoot compact camera is perfectly okay. All you need to do is switch it to the “sports/action” setting and you’re good to go.

  • http://dreamfiction.wordpress.com Wendy

    These photos are amazing! I find timing to be the hardest part of the “jump shot”, but once you get it down, you can have a lot of fun and great pictures.

  • http://www.mikesryukyugallery.com RyukyuMike

    Great idea, but let’s make it tough; has to be in front of a tourist attraction!

  • La Viajera Morena

    The jump shot is one of my favorites, I do it around the world!

Here are a few suggestions on additional photography gear to buy after your camera and...
Since you probably spent hours researching and comparing different digital cameras to...
Typically, I will scout a location during the day, with a vision in mind of how it will...
"The easiest way to take a bad photo of something is to look down on it."
Often extra effort will beget a better story, which makes the photo more meaningful.
Paul Sullivan rounds up various apps that can help you take much better pictures with...
Winners of the 2013 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.
Al Smith claims he is more an entrepreneur than a photographer.
In order to fully grasp these options, it's best to just head out and try them all.
Print photography magazines are still alive and kicking. Which one is your favorite?