We all know the phenomenon: Some days, when something saddens or worries us, we feel we’re carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, Sometimes it’s simply the same-old, same-old of our daily routine that takes the wind out of our sails and makes us feel like a wrung-out rag: listless, worn-out, sluggish. 

Artist practising on roof terrace - AFVF02661

That’s when we most need a little pep-talk – and a good photo can do just the trick, a photo that speaks to us, saying “take a load off!”: snapshots where people cheat gravity, for example, by leaping into the air – joyfully, without a care in the world. Anti-gravity heroes.

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Old as the hills, but more relevant than ever:

The desire to be light as air

People caught “flying” and jumping, “frozen” in a moment of seeming weightlessness and detachment from everything earthly are compelling eye-catchers. Such motifs appeal to man’s age-old desire: the wish to fly. 

Action shot of a man jumping off a wall - INGF09047

But these images encompass another need, one we’ve all felt from time to time, some more than others: that of simply letting go of the whole mess, “to be a kid again,” not having to do anything, not wanting for anything – free to enjoy the moment exuberantly, free from all constraints. 

INGF08275 - Action shot of a man in casual clothing in mid air with a megaphone

This desire is also probably as old as mankind itself, but more relevant than ever: the unforgiving pace of life, complexity, confusion… modern life can sometimes feel like a burden that drags us down. The carefree dreamer who thumbs his nose at such problems and carries on his acrobatic feats, wild and unencumbered as a child, has the stuff of a modern (photo) hero: He gives us the impetus to throw aside the weight of the day-to-day and surrender ourselves to the moment.

Young man doing parkour cartwheel in urban alley - HEROF31790

Wanted: The dreamer

with her head in the clouds

Photos of such “high-flyers” offer a host of opportunity for variation, for the dynamic effect of a flying or leaping person on the observer can be achieved in diverse ways. Particularly effective are photos that include straight lines in the background, a static element in photo composition that builds a stark contrast with the model’s energetic action. 

Surreal view of a man balancing off a silver door - INGF03578

The somber, rigid, severe backdrop of modern metropolitan architecture is especially well suited to this: the sprightly human form vs. inanimate concrete. Although you might first think of sporty motifs, make it rather sport that is unconcerned with accolades and has more to do with the pure fun of movement, such as skateboarding or parkour. After all, these images should signal not single-minded determination and athletic ambition, but carefreeness and gaiety. 

Cool young man doing parkour backflipping with powder cannon in urban alley - HEROF17588

Of course, you can enhance the eye candy with a bit of humor: by making clear to the observer, for example, that your model is simply dreaming of getting off the ground – and, just to be on the safe side, is trying out his superman pose on a bike rack in a barren desert of asphalt. This arouses sympathy with the guy in the image, because we recognize ourselves in him: He knows all too well that he is no bird, will never grow wings. But he could care less – and tries it anyway, for he wants to recapture that sensation of the lightness of being.

Read more about heroes:

SUPERKIDS: LITTLE HEROES, BIG ROLE MODELS – AND STRONG MODELS

RELUCTANT ROLE MODELS: THE QUIET HEROES OF EVERYDAY LIFE

DIVING IN INSTEAD OF WADING: “HEROES OF ACTION” LEAD THE WAY


STRONGER TOGETHER: HEROES FOR A DAY

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