Friday, April 11, 2014

Race Photo Lessons – Cherry Blossom Picture Recap

When you are running a race you likely have goals in mind – a certain pace or finishing time, setting a personal record, how much time you spend running vs. walking.  I have to confess that one of my goals is good race pictures.  Shallow? Sure.  But at least I’m honest!  For the Cherry Blossom 10-miler I succeeded in my photography goal – I scored a whopping 22 pictures at MarathonFoto and some of them are pretty good.  Read on for some fun advice and examples…

Picture Goal: Quantity


To a certain extent, getting a lot of pictures on the race course is a matter of luck.  If you are running behind a tall person, on the wrong side of the street from the photographer, or just happen to pass at the moment the photographer is adjusting their camera, you might be out of luck.  But, there are a couple of things you can do to help your photography odds in a big race like Cherry Blossom. 
  • Make sure your bib is visible and straight.  Your bib number is how you are matched to your photos. Without a visible bib, your photos are going to end up in the purgatory of “unidentified photos”. You can go through those photos and look for yourself, but you are going to need a lot of hours and an easily identifiable race outfit to actually find yourself.
  • Know where photographers are. Big races send out a map ahead of time telling you where their photographers will be. Memorize their locations and look for them! Bonus - it gives your mind something fun to do while you are running.
  • Ham it up a little. It’s hard work taking race photos. If you make it fun for the photographer and make it obvious you want your picture taken, they are more likely to take your picture! Put your arms up in the air, wave, flash peace signs, whatever works for you. (but be respectful of the other runners around you)    

MarathonFoto sent out this map with
photographer locations identified by camera icons

Picture Goal: Quality


Getting good pictures is also important.  Quantity without quality doesn’t help you achieve your goal of a frame-worthy moment.

There are two important lessons in the photo series below:
  1. If you put your arms up in the air, don’t yell “woooooo” at the same time. It is a natural pairing, something you are likely to do without even thinking about it, and as you can tell from the expression on my face in the first three photos, yelling “woooooo” is not compatible with an attractive facial expression.
  2. If you put your arms up in the air, commit to it and keep them up until you pass the photographer. I decided that I knew when the photographer was done taking my picture and brought my arms back down. In the last two photos my arms are coming back down and they look pretty darn silly. And of course I had stopped yelling “wooooo” and started to sheepishly smile at the photographer since I felt a little foolish, so now I have the good expression on my face but silly arms.
Series Location: Mile 7, East Potomac Park

Series Location: Mile 7, East Potomac Park

Series Location: Mile 7, East Potomac Park

Series Location: Mile 7, East Potomac Park

Series Location: Mile 7, East Potomac Park

Smile!  This series is not too bad, nice Washington Monument and cherry blossom trees in the background. 

Series Location: Mile 6, by Tidal Basin

Series Location: Mile 6, by Tidal Basin

Series Location: Mile 6, by Tidal Basin

If running hard is your goal, you are probably going to have to redefine what a “good” picture is.  When you are running hard, there is no time for arm-waving and smiling and posing for the photographers.  I ran hard for the last mile and I pretty much look like I am sucking wind in these photos. 

Series Location: Mile 10, along 15th St

Series Location: Mile 10, along 15th St

Series Location: Mile 10, along 15th St

Enjoy those finish line photos!  Whether the photographer at the finish line gets the money shot of you crossing the timing strip is really luck of the draw, it depends on how many other people are coming in at the same time and a bunch of other factors that are pretty much beyond your control.  I got lucky for this race and my full-on ecstatically-beaming moment was triumphantly captured! 
What is in your control is getting the post-finish line photographers to take your picture.  Get in line and get those pictures (straighten your bib!), even if you feel a little self-conscious.  You will be glad to see them later.  I felt self-conscious since most of the other people were in pairs or groups and I was all alone, but I’m glad to have those moments captured and see my happy post-race smile. 

Photo Location: Finish Line!

Photo Location: Post-Finish Line Photographer

Photo Location: Post-Finish Line Photographer
May the photography force be with you on your next race!

6 comments:

  1. What a fun photo recap! You really got some great pictures from the race-yay! Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. Thanks for looking at them! Good luck this weekend :)

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  2. Great post Kimberly. Your joy comes through in your writing.

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    1. Thank you Melissa - what a lovely thing to say!

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  3. So many great tips! Thanks so much for sharing! :-)

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    1. Thank you for reading, and for sharing on your facebook page!

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