Too many jumping pictures can be annoying, but I would like to once in a while be able to make a good one.

Here is a bad one:

Jumping picture

  1. What characteristics make a jump picture impressive?
  2. How to reach these characteristics when shooting the picture?
  • 1
    On this subject, I do recommend the book of Philippe Halsman's "Jump" photos for some lovely examples. Apparently at one point in every portrait session he would also ask to also take pictures of the subject jumping, believing that this showed their true character in a way that normal portraits did not. The results are great, and it's rather bizarre to see (for example) President Nixon, Edward VII and Wallis Simpson and some very serious-looking business tycoons jumping in the air... Jan 6 '12 at 12:20

Probably the most important factor:

  • Shoot from a low angle.

If you can get low enough that you can see the sky under the person, it more clearly exaggerates that they are in the air.

Alternatively, shoot against a background with clear depth cues - A person jumping on a large, flat plane of a similar color provides no clue that they are actually in the air (Shadows can work for this too, if you have a bright light source, e.g. the sun etc...).

For example, in the picture in the OP, the girl is either jumping, or simply kneeling on the rocks. Since the image is 2D, there are no clear cues about the difference in depth between the girl and the rocks. If the angle of view was lower, so the mountains in the background were visible underneath her, it would be much more apparent she was jumping, and not kneeling.

Alternatively, place something behind them, that you can see.

enter image description here

Posing in the air is a different issue, and largely depends on what you are trying to do with the image.
Personally, I think it's fairly difficult to not look at least somewhat silly while jumping about, but that's more of a personal opinion than anything else.


One of the Key elements should also be

- The Decisive Moment

The timing of the photograph is very important!

At Sport Photography, like Skate Photography, hitting the Apex is a Must...

These following examples are showing how important it is, to find the decisive moment of the photograph

Garry Winogrand

Photo by Garry Winogrand in the 1950s...

... and the following that is actually not shot from a low angle!

Cartier Bresson

Photo by Cartier Bresson

  • 1
    I don't think the second shot is really indicative of what most people mean by a "jumping shot" though?
    – rfusca
    Jun 4 '11 at 21:21
  • 1
    True... But the person looks like jumping!! ...So it might be a different way, than the usual, to take the photo! Jun 4 '11 at 22:42
  • 3
    The second includes what I describe as "Depth Cues", though. The reflection is what makes the fact that the person is in the air readily apparent. Basically making the fact that there is movement, e.g. the person is not standing still, it the most important aspect.
    – Fake Name
    Jun 5 '11 at 3:37

I agree with @Fake Name about the low angle. It works particularly well with a low angle and recognizably "tall" items in the background. When you get lucky enough, a rainbow never hurts either: :-)

enter image description here

And yes, in case anybody cares, that really was luck, not compositing. As you can see, the weather did make for a rather dark shot though.

Of course it can also help to find somebody who knows how to strike a dramatic pose while jumping too:

enter image description here

enter image description here


While usually tele lens is used in sports photography, using wide angle from low angle and near distance can help in exaggerating height of the jump:

Kätlin Sehver and Lord Leu winning the Grand Prix in Ruila


It is not unheard of for some of these shots to be taken right out of a a videostream. They stop right where they like the shot, snap, there it is and print! It may not be true photography the way you and I shoot, but a lot of people use photoshop to the nth degree and the gray area begins!

  • 1
    That seems like a decent trick for getting the timing right. I agree with the "not true photography" sentiment, but on the other hand it's not unlike shooting with a still camera with a ridiculously-high framerate. Do you have any ideas for the other aspect of the question, though, which asks What characteristics make a jump picture impressive?
    – mattdm
    Jan 3 '12 at 3:14
  • Good idea! Photographic quality is not really important for those pictures, so video-extracted frames can be good enough. Jan 3 '12 at 6:37
  • Hi sweeterbel. The tone of your answer is rather rough, and we have received several flags on this answer. Could you please edit your answer to clean up the wording to make it more palatable? Remove "Duh?", and reword the rest of the answer to make it seem less like you think everyone else on this site is an idiot.
    – jrista
    Jan 3 '12 at 17:48

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