Cowboy Jump Shot


Time for a bit of fun now. I have been taking ‘jump shots’ on my travels around the world for many years now. It’s almost become a signature thing. During all this time I’ve never met anybody who wasn’t happy to have a go and who didn’t smile at the result.

Jump shots are about catching action at its peak, an action photo technique that with a bit of practice and familiarity with your camera anyone can do with any type of camera. Here’s how you’ll get some great ones.

Cowboy Jump Shot

You need lots of light to help ‘freeze’ the action. Don’t worry if it’s frontal light shining directly on your subject(s) they’ll be too focussed on getting as high as possible to worry about squinting. This is one time where backlighting won’t look as good.

  • Get your subject(s) into position with a background you like and frame them up with at least a third of viewfinder space above their head. It helps if you squat down and get low. Shooting up makes them look like they’ve got further off the ground.
  • Tell your subject(s) you want them to be animated. Throw hands up in the air and kick heels up or out. Straight legs will show they only got a few inches off the ground. If they bend at the knees and get their feet away from the ground it looks  much more dynamic.
  • Of course timing is key and if you’ve got more than one person in your jump shot they are going to all need to jump at the same time. Though you can get some funny results if their timing is off…

Family Jump Shot at Pack Camp

Get a timing routine going and tell them clearly what it is. I like to say “1, 2, 3 Jump!” with the request that they start the jump after the 3 so they are getting airborne as I say “Ju”.

So with everything set, lock in your focus by aiming at your subject(s) and squeezing the trigger halfway down. Shout out your  instructions and keep your camera perfectly still as they jump. Exactly when you press the shutter button depends on the amount of light you have and your camera itself. This is where a bit of practice comes in. You’re aiming to get your subject(s) at the apex of their jump so usually you have to press sometime on the way up. Take a shot, then check it out and adjust accordingly if you need to.

Wrangler Jump Shot

Once you’ve got the hang of it you’ll find there are many situations where a jump shot can be executed. I’ve done them in knee deep water at the beach, with energetic friends on skis and with many different (sometimes quite famous) backdrops.

Nicola Cornwells jump shot

Finally, if you’re feeling confident try some variation with the mid air poses. Be imaginative, get elevated and have fun!

Wrangler and Kid BMR

One Comment

  1. dalelinda

    A memorable photo for this young girl and her Dad, I’m sure!!!!

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