Simple Rules for a Great Race Photo

The fall race season is upon us.’ There are many articles this time of year that start out in this manner and then proceed to give you lots of advice on about how to train, what to eat, what shoes or clothing you should be wearing, etc. All these articles, and there are a ton of them, are written to help you feel good and strong during your endurance events. Luckily for you, that’s not our intent here! Quite frankly, from our perspective as race photographers we are not concerned on how you how you feel, we are only concerned about how you LOOK! Because its all about the race photo. Your race photo endures long after the race is over and, as you’ve heard it a million times, a picture is worth a thousand words.

It’s true. From a photographers point of view it doesn’t matter how you feel it’s all about how you look in the picture. We want to take great photos of you before, during and after the race. We genuinely get excited when we capture a great photo of a runner. After all, good race photos are placed in nice frames on a shelf, hung up in cubicles, posted on refrigerators and, in today’s social media craze, they are posted on Facebook, Instagram and tweeted out. So, yes, we are only interested in the way you LOOK.

Photos before a race are easy. Most runners love the camera and are ready to smile when approached for a pre race photo. Post race is similarly easy. Runners have big smiles because they’ve accomplished their goal and are on a runners high. They are hanging out with their post run beer excited for the picture. It’s during the race that creates the biggest challenge and here’s where we need to have a discussion. Getting a good race photo is easy as long as you follow a few simple rules.

The guidelines for taking a good race photo are simple and when you read them most of you will say “I already knew that!’. It’s easy to forget the rules of taking a good photo when you’re out on the course.
You’re tired, it’s hot, the hill is too hard. We understand that. I know that everyone wants a great race photo even ones that say that they don’t care. So here the simple rules are for everyone who thinks they’re camera shy.

1. Keep your head up

There are no good photos of someone running with their head down and let’s not forget the double chin effect – you know what we’re talking about.

2. Look directly at the lens of the camera

looking past the camera is ok but not as good as directly at the camera. Make that connection with the camera.

3. Smile

yes, SMILE. Whether your happy, exhausted, in pain, about to pass out or wondering why in
the world you decided to run this race just smile. Even if you don’t feel like smiling, FAKE IT UNTIL YOU
MAKE IT. Trust me, you’ll thank us later!

4. Use good posture

We get it, when you’re tired your body slumps. But why look frumpy in the photo?
When you see the camera engage your core and run with good posture. Head up, shoulders back, chest out and get those arms in gear!

5. Pump your fist

When crossing the finish line pump your fist, raise your hands, jump in the air, show some emotion and smile big because you’ve just accomplished your goal. But, please don’t look down or fumble with your watch until after you’ve past the photographer. We know you’re focused on your time because it really does matter… and yes, it might add a couple of seconds to your watch time, but your pictures are going to look so much better.

Let’s look at an example. Check out the two photos of the runner at a recent race by our favorite race company Junction 311 Endurance Sports. In the first image the runner has poor posture, he is slumped over, not smiling, looking past the camera and generally looks exhausted. Not a great race day photo. However, in the second photo he noticed the photographer and his back immediately straightens, his shoulders are up and he’s smiling directly into the camera. Score! He just got himself a great race day photo.

In regards to the photographer, it’s important to remember that we are out there. Always at the start/finish line and floating somewhere on the course. Some runners love it when they see the photographer on course and really ham it up. We love these runners. But we also understand that not all people are naturals at flirting with the camera. A great race photo is easy as long you follow these simple rules. You’ve trained for this race and you want to remember it with a smile.

As long as you do your part – look up, smile, use good posture and show some emotions, let the photographers
do their thing and capture the image that you’ll want to print, display and post.

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