How to Take a Successful Race Photo

Apparently I can’t read a schedule.  Cynthia from You Signed Up for What?, Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, and Mar from Mar on the Run, chose 5 motivating people for this Friday’s 5 linkup — but I wrote that post last week. Oops, senior moment. Even if I’m not yet a senior citizen.

And since racing is finally back on my mind after a long drought, I thought I’d share 5 tips for taking successful race photos. Most of them were learned the hard way!

Sunny run happy hat
Sunny run happy hat
Lose the Black
Once my husband came driving home as I was heading out for a run — head to toe in black. He called me a running ninja. I kind of liked it — except it doesn’t make you stand out to cars, and it doesn’t make you stand out in race photos, either.

The good news is that running clothes are coming in wilder prints & brighter colors every day.

I was wearing a green tank and a flowered running skirt for one long run this summer and one of our coaches commented about how he could see us a mile away. And that’s a good thing!

I find it’s a bit harder when the weather is cooler. Right now most of my capris are black. A couple of my running jackets are black, too.

If all else fails, go with a colorful hat. My yellow run happy hat stands out pretty good in a sea of black!

I can't say I was feeling happy, but at least I look happy
I can’t say I was feeling happy, but at least I look happy
Eyes Forward
What are you doing when you cross the starting mat and finish line mat?

Is your head down fiddling with your Garmin? Is that the race photo you want?

Try to be looking up at the start and the finish. Raising your arms in a V for victory at the end is always a good look (even with batwings). Even just a smile (even if you’re not feeling it) will make for a race photo you actually want.

And if you have enough energy to jump for joy at the end — go for it!

Look for the photographers
My first half I had no clue that there were photographers on the course and that you could have your photo taken with your medal after you finished. Luckily my husband took a great photo afterwards, in our hotel room.

Photographers will generally be at the start, the finish, and the midway point. Anywhere there’s a timing mat, basically, look for a photographer.

In larger races they may be randomly placed along the route, too.

Make eye contact
Who would you take a photo of — the person staring at the ground, or the person running towards you looking you in the eye, smiling, giving you a thumbs up?

The truth is they’re probably taking photographs of everyone, but you’ll like your photo a lot more if you’re not staring at the ground.

I wasn't pushing hard here!
At the very end. I quit but finished ZOOMA Annapolis.
Smile, even if you don’t feel like it
Above is how I really felt coming to the end of ZOOMA Annapolis. That’s how my husband caught me before I was aware he was taking my photograph.

That photo of me crossing the finish line? It was taken not long after the photo above. Yup! I ‘m a total poser. 

I have a lot of race photos people think look great. Frankly, I’ve learned to fake it for the photographer. Maybe that’s a little dissembling of me, but hey, I can look good even if I don’t feel good, right? And then I’ll have a fond memory. Sort of.

Or maybe I was just really, really, really glad it was over (I was).

It’s kind of my running philosophy in a nutshell: if you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you try harder. Fake it til you make it, in other words.

 Any more tips for getting great race photos?

17 thoughts on “How to Take a Successful Race Photo

  1. I raced in black at last weekend’s marathon for the first time ever! Haha! Lots of people race in the ninja look but I agree hi-viz is better. WHen I see photographers out there I make sure I’m not slouching.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My aunt told me early in my running career to “smile through the miles!” I think it goes along with the “fake it til you make it” idea, but if you’re smiling then hopefully it’s making you think positive and feel positive. Even when you don’t feel like you have anything to be positive about!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I always try to smile when I see a photographer at a race. But I still manage to have at least one goofy photo in the bunch. Whether it’s me having an awful look on my face or eating a GU. Those photographers are so sneaky and can get you in the most random poses.


  4. I always smile at them even if they aren’t looking at me! You really never know! And the ones where we look like we are in pain are never good…but I like the one of you in Annapolis! It shows how hard you worked!


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