If you’ve been following me on my instagram @theoccasionaltraveller, you’ll know that i can’t resist taking a good jumpshot. I love being able to catch a good dynamic photo of me in mid-jump against a picturesque background. A lot of people have asked me how on earth I take some of these shots, especially because I’m a solo traveller and basically have no one to take reliable shots for me. I thought I’d demystify things and show you how to take a good jumpshot photo when you’re travelling solo.
If you’re concerned about photography as a solo traveller, I have another article I wrote about not being shy to take that solo selfie.
Why take a jumpshot?
Or in Singlish, why so action one? The simple reason – it’s fun!
To me, a good jumpshot makes what your ordinary postcard-like picture that much more interesting when executed well. It imparts a sense of dynamism and movement to draw the eye and I feel it captures a person’s poise and energy in a way static photos don’t. More narcissistically, it shows off my athleticism, a reminder of my youth when i am older and less fit :p
Jumpshots really aren’t too hard – you just need to catch that one perfect moment in time, which requires a bit of patience and some practice to do easily.
Best camera for a jumpshot photo
My personal camera of choice is the Casio Exilim FR100, which sadly isn’t in production anymore because Casio stopped making cameras, but is my favourite outdoor camera as well. I like the FR100 for jumpshots because I can control it remotely when jumping without having to fiddle with phone apps or timers.
Some times I take one well-timed shot, but more often than not I use the 30s High Speed Burst mode to guarantee a good shot. It snaps 30 shots in a second so as long as you don’t screw up the timing, you’re guaranteed to get a decent photo, perfect for the solo traveller.
For those armed with just their phone cameras or your point-and-shoot cameras, don’t worry, jumpshots are possible too! You will need:
- a tripod or something to hold your phone in place when you jump
- a camera app/function with a timer or a bluetooth remote – I prefer the remote as it gives you a bit more control over the photo taking, while setting the timer means you have to be quite precise about when you actually jump
If there’s someone around who will take the picture for you, great! But relying on other people’s photography ability is always a bit dicey. If you have to, set up a multiple-burst (many shots in a few seconds) for the highest chance at a good shot.
For those with iPhones, that means getting them to hold down the shutter button as you jump to take a burst mode picture so you can select your favourite shot after. Tell your photographer to start pressing the button as you bend to jump to ensure they catch the whole jump.
How to jump for a jumpshot photo
Contrary to what the picture may seem, you aren’t suspended in that pose for very long at all. The jumpshot photo is all about that split second shot with that one good move! It takes some practice or enough jumpshots to get the hang of it, but some general tips:
How to look graceful
Always point your toes – you just look so much more graceful when you do. Also, it gives your leg muscles better definition so you look more toned, and makes your legs look elongated.
Keep your face happy or neutral. The point is to look effortless when you jump to exude that sense of grace. If you are prone to constipated expressions because of all the effort it takes to a jump, do a pose that has your face turned to the side or away, or stick to silhouette shots, though low light shots tend to be a bit grainy.
How to look like you’re jumping high
A simple tip to look like you’re making a spectacular leap is to bend your knees and kick your legs back to create the illusion of a very high jump. It creates more space between you and the floor and makes you look like you are jumping higher than you really are.
If you can, take a low angle shot where the camera is on the ground or a lower point and angled upwards. It makes it look like you have some serious air time. Although for the ladies, make sure you have pants/shorts on though or it’ll be a rather unfortunate upskirt moment for you.
Easy jumpshot poses to master
Can’t figure out what to do with your body in the air? Here are some poses you can try that I think are pretty easy for anyone to do, and you can create your own variations by bending or straightening your various limbs. I personally like to look at photographs of dancers for inspiration and try to impart some of that grace and control into my pix, but you do you and come up with your own crazy moves!
Face the camera, jump with your hands in a V above your head and your legs open in a V. Think about stretching sideways to create a big flat star shape, and not about putting so much force into flailing such that your limbs are all pointing backwards instead of sideways
The Running Man
Turn to the side, lift your legs and hands into a running position as you jump up, with your knees and elbows bent accordingly so it literally looks like you are caught mid sprint.
The Back Arch (‘C’)
Turn to the side, bend your knees and kick your legs back while throwing both your arms over your head backwards – make sure you have them behind your ears so you don’t block your face. As you jump, arch your back and tilt your head upwards for prettier lines.
Advanced Jumpshot Tips and Tricks
- Have some go-to poses so in the event you only have time for one shot, you can definitely get a nice one. Some inspiration from travel blogger friends – Keith from TravelInspiration360 has what he calls a KJS (Keith Jump Shot) in every place he visits; and while it’s not technically a jumpshot, Hendric from Pohtecktoes has a Piking Around The World series
- Your best shot is normally when your jump is at its highest point because that’s when your muscles are usually the most engaged, but sometimes the other positions can surprise you, which is why a multi-shot burst never hurts. I’ve preferred some shots where I’m on the way up or down
- Props can add some spice – throwing out a thin scarf as you jump can add movement/flow to a picture – best attempted if you are doing a multi burst shot
Other things to consider
- What are you wearing? A contrasting colour to your background makes you pop out more
- Something more form-fitting tends to show off the shapes your body makes better
- If you are in flipflops or any sort of heel, I suggest taking off your shoes when you jump both for safety and because flipflops look especially awkward if you are pointing your toes
- SAFETY FIRST. Make sure your jump doesn’t plummet you off a cliff or step on other people’s toes. Loose gravel and uneven, slippery and sloping surfaces can also be hard on your ankles. Soft sand cushions landings but watch out for weak ankles
- For dubious surfaces, I cheat a little by doing a tiny one-leg kick back to give that sense of movement though I am barely jumping at all
- If there is a crowd, don’t be a pain in the ass and spend an hour trying to take the perfect shot! Come back at a less busy time
- I’ve found that plain clear backgrounds in bright light tend to work the best. My favourite is against the clear blue sky. You might get lost if the background is too busy
- Are there landmarks or people in the background you can’t remove or want to show off? Use your jumpshot to highlight these for a fun photo. I like jumping ‘over’ things
- Silhouette shots work best during sunset when light is low, or if you are shooting against really bright sunlight. The pros are that you can make whatever faces you want, but the cons are that you might get more movement blurs because of the low light for sunset shots
- Jumpshots are great beyond just the static photograph. The iPhone lets you do slow-mo videos so you can create a really dramatic looking jumpshot, or you could do a boomerang shot on Instagram for a never-ending gif of your jump… get creative!
- You need to know how fast or slow your camera reacts to best gauge the timing of the jump – that means knowing your camera well and doing some practice shots. Especially key if you have some random person taking the shot for you
And let’s go jumping! Hit me up with your best jumpshots in the comments, or tell me which pose is your favourite and what tips you might have for others who want to give it a go.