Tips for Taking Better Race Photos

440 662 Molly on the Move

If you didn’t get a pic running the race, then did you really run it? Probs not. 😉 Which is why I am here to give you tips for taking better race photos!


Let’s be honest. You’re mid run and the last thing you want to do is think about looking good. I am saying this because that is what I think practically every time I see a photographer along the race course. Like, why are you trying to document the pained look I have on my face?!?!


At least I feel this way towards the end of a race. Depending on when the first photographer appears, I may still be feeling all chipper and confident that I’ve got this race in the bag. Usually I thought I flashed a great smile, but then I hated the image I saw. And when these suckers cost way more than they should (no but really, prepare yourself for a high fee), you must feel excited about what they caught on camera.


So here is the deal. There are ways to make these photos actually turn out well. I wish I could show you all the WORST picture taken of me ever. It was taken during the Portland Marathon this past fall. Let me summarize this race for you in one word in case you’re new around here: BRUTAL. I won’t go into details, but I was basically in pain the entire time. And you betcha it was caught on camera more than once.


My “favorite” photo of the awful bunch though? The one of me where I am walking and clearly thinking hard about something. All over my face, exhaustion, torture and concern were written. I was thinking hard about how the heck I would finish the race since I was at, oh I don’t know, maybe mile sixteen. Of course I refused to pay for the image, but sometimes I wish I had just so I could give a better example of this.


race photos | how to get good race pictures | tips for taking better race photos


My point being: these photogs will catch you at your worst moments, but they want to catch you at your best! In order to be prepared for the paparazzi, take a look at my tips below for taking a better race photo:


Be on the lookout

Keep your eyes spotted for photographers lining the route. They’re usually in a neon vest so they aren’t too hard to find, but sometimes you may not notice them until it is too late. By spotting them early, you will be better prepared to get that winning shot.


Stand up tall

A sure fire way to improve your race photos? Straighten up! Stand up tall and make sure your shoulders aren’t slumped. With the proper posture, you won’t hate the way you look as much.


Capture their attention

In a race with thousands, it is difficult to set yourself apart. However, if you don’t, you will end up with some homie right beside you, or cutting you off at the last minute. Capture the attention of the photographer so that they are focused on you, then put some distance between you and other runners. Viola!


Smart outfit selection

Pick a race day outfit that you feel confident and comfortable in. Busy prints are hard to photograph, so I would recommend solid colors. I always lean towards bright colors because they stand out more (great for photographers AND your friends trying to catch you running), but do whatever you will be excited to see in all your pics.


Exaggerate your stride

This will help your photos tremendously. Depending on what point you’re at in a race, you may be practically dragging your feet when you see the cameraman. Pick up your feet more, take exaggerated strides and pump those arms!


Think about your facial expression

Whether you want to be happy or totally focused, go for it 100%. You may feel dorky running with a giant smile on your face staring hardcore at a stranger, but do it and it will work in your favor.



Working to get that perfect shot may feel awkward when you’re in the process of it, but I promise you will be pleased with the outcome.

What is your best race day photo-taking tip?

  • Brittany

    I was so glad to come across this post because, as a four time marathon finisher, I have been in some TERRIBLE race photos! I especially like your point about capturing the photographer’s attention. Recently, I try to smile and wave – otherwise, I seem to be scowling in the photos when really I’m just concentrating. I recently decided to take my training to the next level and try to qualify for Boston in the next few years (a goal I wrote about here: and I’ll keep this mind…. although I have a feeling if I do qualify for Boston I’ll be so happy to be there I’ll smiling the whole time anyway!

    • Molly On The Move

      I am the SAME WAY! I have to make sure to look good or else my facial expression is horrendous! I’d LOVE to qualify for Boston as well, I have set a goal to do so within the next few years 🙂 Thanks for reading, Brittany! Can’t wait to check out your post!

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