Tips for taking a great race photo

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I love race photos. As a former sports photographer for a newspaper, I love the idea of capturing epic moments of athletic performance. So rarely though do my race photos turn out the way I want them. Even in race where I feel like Wonder Woman running along with Kenyan-like speed, the race photos reveal a much different picture – something more accurately resembling a wounded animal complete with painful grimace and awkward running form.

However, over the years, I’ve started to find ways to master the race photo, and as a result, on-course photographers have captured some great ones. So great in fact, that I often buy my race photos even though they can be rather expensive.

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To help you get a few frame-worthy photos at your next race, here are my top tips for a perfect race photo.

Wear something you like and look good in

Pick your race day outfit carefully. Try to avoid baggy shorts or loose t-shirts that can make you look bigger in photos. Ladies, make sure you have a well-fitting bra with either a bit of padding, or a dark coloured shirt to hide the nips. Tight-fitting bright colours look best. Pick an outfit that makes you feel strong, happy and confident. I like to wear my sleeves for races because they make me feel like I badass.

At least my grimace kind of looks like a smile…

Spot the photographer

Be aware of where the race photographers are located on the course. When you see them, exaggerate your stride, stand tall, smile or wave. Even if you feel like death, these small adjustments will ensure you look strong in your pictures. If you can, pick up the pace. This will help improve your form. And sometimes, pretending you feel great can actually make you feel better, helping you run stronger for longer.

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Consider wearing a bit of makeup

I know this probably sounds horribly vain, but I have always liked my race photos better when I’ve put on a bit of mascara and a tinted lip gloss. I used to always wear sunglasses in races, but sometimes that’s just not practical. A small amount of waterproof mascara can go a long way. I also try to put my hair up high on my head, and avoid wearing hats. Otherwise, I end up looking a bit bald, which is not very attractive.

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Make sure your race bib is on straight

I hate a crooked bib. Have someone pin your bib on the front of you where it can be seen and make sure it’s on straight. Also, pin all four corners so it doesn’t fly up while running. Pin it on when you’re wearing your shirt so that it doesn’t bunch up in weird places.

Make the finish line count

Even if you have no idea where the on-course photographers are, you can be assured there will be several at the finish line. So get yourself prepared. This is, of course, your big moment. Even if you feel terrible, make an effort to cross the line triumphant. Smile, throw your hands up in a victorious V and sail across the finish line. If this is a big race – a PB attempt, your first marathon, or a major bucket list race – this may be the photo you’ll want to buy, so its’s worth making an effort to make it look good.

Of course, you’ll still end up with a few bad ones. Try not to be too hard on yourself. I mean, some of them can be pretty funny.

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Hopefully, you end up with at least a few good ones!

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