Jumping for joy



Here's a picture of Merilyn Monroe I've never seen before! Taken by Philippe Halsman, 1959.

The classic: legs bent upward, if possible in opposite directions, arms open, fingers stretched far, possibly to imitate wings–or a parachute–and mouth and eyes open wide, sometimes a tongue sticking out to say “Look, I’m jumping so high!”

I don’t know why it has become so popular to take pictures of your friends jumping. I do it. It’s fun. It is also impressive, for one reason or another, for other people to see you captured them at the perfect moment.

Sometimes, if you’re subtle and creative, you can make people appear to be floating, posing naturally, of course, sans the “Hey I’m jumping!” sort of obviousness.

But I’d rather have a picture of me jumping than a typical toothy picture taken as I utter the word “Cheese!” any given day. Even though it’s staged and deliberate, there’s something remotely natural about a jumping pose, especially if you zoom into the face.

You can always make yourself feel better by saying to yourself “I got that at the perfect moment.” But a picture taken a millisecond before and a millisecond after any given moment as a person is jumping, would produce radically different pictures, and that is part of its naturalness.

In the picture above, for example, Merilyn Monroe would probably not keep her mouth open in that way and her eyes would not be looking down in that exact position for longer than a fraction of a second. Similarly, as a person begins to feel any sort of emotion, every moment, the facial expression is changing, and every moment is a unique and perfect moment in its own. It is up to the photographer to determine which moments capture the emotion most interestingly.

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1 Response to “Jumping for joy”


  1. 1 sluphojo April 19, 2011 at 1:52 am

    Fantastic blog post! Love the quote: “Similarly, as a person begins to feel any sort of emotion, every moment, the facial expression is changing, and every moment is a unique and perfect moment in its own. It is up to the photographer to determine which moments capture the emotion most interestingly.”

    love it!!


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