Race photos – a how-to guide

It’s no secret, I am a sucker for a race photo. It’s entirely possible that I have spent more money on race photos than race entry fees. I don’t want to add it up and find out for sure!

People often comment on my race photos and say things like, “How can you look like you’re not dying?

With a quiet patch coming up in terms of races, but a few big ones coming up, I thought this week would be an opportune time to share my tips on nailing a good race pic!

But first, here is my first EVER race photo, from my first EVER race in November 2012.

henley classic 2012

SO much wrong with this photo. Mostly the outfit.

Could be worse though – I could be Tess, photobombed by a tree!

1. Don’t be afraid to fake it!

Ultra Trail Australia 2016
Ultra Trail Australia 2016


Trust me, the photo does not always reflect my frame of mind at the time! The smile in the second photo is definitely very fake. But hopefully you would have been so dazzled by the brightness of my outfit that you would not have noticed that.

2. Be aware of where the photographers are.

In a road race, they’ll usually be along the left side of the course, usually wearing a hi-viz vest. I tend to try to run along the left side where possible. Also, then I get to high five spectators!

3. Wear something distinctive.

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Ultra Trail Australia 2016
Ultra Trail Australia 2016


It’s not always practical to wear a costume, although in some themed runs it can be fun to get into the spirit of it! It’s also great to dress up when you’re a pacer, so your ‘bus’ passengers can easily pick you out of the crowd!

Bright colours are also good. The added bonus is if you have to find the photos yourself among hundreds of other photos, you won’t have too much trouble picking yourself out!

4. Prepare a few interesting poses.

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This is a work in progress for me. Usually all I can think of to do is wave at the camera. Different facial expressions, hand gestures – the list is endless!

5. Might as well jump!


One of my running goals, and one I have failed at spectacularly to date, is to nail the perfect jumping photo. I’ve thought about doing it several times but chickened out at the last minute. I tried one during Heysen 105 last year but succeeded only in almost strangling myself with my buff. I tried it at the top of Mt Kosciuszko (the highest point in Australia) but it was so windy that day I was a bit worried about being blown over and landing on a pile of rubble! Here is a video that gives a few tips (from someone who DOES know how to do a jump shot) on how to perfect your technique!

6. Pics with others are always more fun!

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Also, tight arse tip: if you run with a friend, you can just buy one lot of race photos and share them!

7. A good finish line photo is essential!

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Ultra Trail Australia 2016
Ultra Trail Australia 2016


Ideally, wait until AFTER you cross the line to stop your watch (ie not like in the last photo!)

Bloodied knees optional (like in the first photo)

8. Make sure your race bib is visible at all times!


When bib recognition is used, and you get a link to all your photos, a visible bib is essential, otherwise you may miss a bunch of photos. In a shorter race, generally having the bib attached to the front of your top will make it visible. In a longer race where you may either change your top or put a warmer top on over it, it’s best to wear your race bib attached to a belt. I have been doing the latter for the past 12 months or so and never find the bib interferes with my running, and I always get all my photos! (Chris, in the blue and white, didn’t get this photo sent to him as his bib was not visible. Luckily I’m generous and I sent him a copy!)

9. If you’re going to wear a hat, make it a white one.

This is a tip from a photographer friend. With darker hats, it’s REALLY hard to see your face. Plus, darker hats get hotter. Normally you’re wearing a hat because it’s warm. Lighter coloured hats will keep you cooler! I almost ALWAYS wear a white hat. Gets a bit dirty especially on the trails but it can always be washed! Doesn’t look so white up close now but still looks OK for the photos!

10. The photos you take yourself, or that friends take, are often the best!

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Selfies during an ultra, or photos taken by friends who are supporting, are often more natural and can be the best photos you get of an event. Plus, they’re free! And if you happen to know the official photographer it often leads to better pictures! (The composite photo shows a few different interesting facial expressions when I was unaware I was being photographed – the one in the middle shows when I saw my friend Dave behind the camera!)

BONUS: Don’t be afraid to photobomb!

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I don’t think I was even aware I was photobombing in this race photo! The second photo is one of my favourite pics from this year’s Gold Coast Marathon. I had no idea I was being photobombed, the guy taking the pic offered to do it again but I loved it the way it was!

So there you have it, my top tips for getting the best race photos.

Do you have any other great tips to share?


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