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”.
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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.