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From Our Team: Getting Your Best Race Photos

 Sunny day, a beautiful backdrop, and mid-course smiles. Perfect timing! (c) 2017 Focal Flame Photography | Credit: Brett Stepanik

Sunny day, a beautiful backdrop, and mid-course smiles. Perfect timing! (c) 2017 Focal Flame Photography | Credit: Brett Stepanik

 Biking on a direct trajectory yields the best shot. (c) 2017 Focal Flame Photography | Photo credit: Clint Thayer

Biking on a direct trajectory yields the best shot. (c) 2017 Focal Flame Photography | Photo credit: Clint Thayer

You’ve worked hard to prepare and perform in your event, and we want you to have the best photos to preserve your memories of your accomplishment. So we, the photographers and editors at Focal Flame Photography, would like to share some tips from our team to help make your photos awesome.

One way to help us frame a good individual photo of you is to try to “isolate yourself when you get near the photographer,” according to photographer Don Newton. To do this,“try to get to the edge of the pack,” suggests Focal Flame Photography co-founder and photographer Clint Thayer.

According to Newton, running or biking toward (but not into) the photographer gives the best angle for the shot. It is not necessary to lean in or aim your path directly into the camera in an attempt to get a good photo or a close-up. Leaning or veering won't result in the effect you are seeking, and it may prevent the photographer from getting good photos of the people around you.

Some people want to be photographed with a certain gesture such as a thumbs-up or (for Badger fans) hands placed in a "W."  Others want to capture themselves leaping into the air. For those photos, Newton suggests, "The ideal distance to pose is between 5-10 yards away from the photographer. People tend to hit their pose too early. If you want a good jumping photo, tell the photographer 1-2 seconds before you jump to give us slight forewarning, and we'll be ready to frame the shot.”

If you are running with someone else and would like to have both of you in a picture together, it's also a great idea to signal your intent to the photographer.  Thayer says, “Holding hands is a GREAT way to indicate pairing. Running very close to each other is the next best. “

Editors Glenda and Suellen Adams are runners themselves, and have learned a little about getting better finish line photos. “I have a tendency to drop my head when I am tired,” Suellen says.  And Glenda admits to a tendency to check her Garmin as she crosses the finish line.  “Heads up at the finish line makes for a better finish photo,” they agree, “so you might want to think about holding your head up. Avoid the 'watch check' or 'finish line selfie' photo - whatever you do at the line is what the photographer will capture.”  And as for that selfie at the finish line, Thayer reminds participants that “90 percent of the events we do offer free photos, and we get them online in less than 12 hours. It will be a better photo than you'll be able to capture with your phone, so feel free to just take in the moment and enjoy your experience.”

 Members of a first-place triathlon relay team make it clear they are together, allowing a great group shot at the finish line. (c) 2017 Focal Flame Photography | Photo credit: Josh Zytkiewicz

Members of a first-place triathlon relay team make it clear they are together, allowing a great group shot at the finish line. (c) 2017 Focal Flame Photography | Photo credit: Josh Zytkiewicz

Sometimes you have great photos from the event, but can't find them. There are some simple things you can do to make sure your will be able to find your photo after the event.  Photos are tagged with your race or bib number, but it’s impossible to tag you if your number is not visible.   

 Hold your head up and enjoy your day!  (c) 2016 Focal Flame Photography | Credit: Don Newton

Hold your head up and enjoy your day!  (c) 2016 Focal Flame Photography | Credit: Don Newton

New runners sometimes do not realize that the bib should be pinned to the front of whatever you are wearing, not the back. A visible bib is critical for identifying you in your photos.  In many races, the bib also contains your race-timing chip, which makes it particularly important for it to be in front so it triggers as soon as you cross the line.  If your bib is attached to a race belt, sometimes it will shift and rotate around your body, so it is a good idea to check and slide it back around from time to time.

Sometimes you run a race that requires that you wear layers or a change of clothes. Try to predict what layer will be on the outside, especially at the finish. Or wear a race belt and make sure the number is always on the outside of whatever you are wearing. Sometimes despite your best efforts, the number gets covered up, so be sure to check galleries containing unidentified photos, too.

In races like triathlons that use body marking, where your bib number is written on arms and legs so it's visible during the swim portion, encourage the volunteer who is writing the numbers to make the characters large and clear.  "When you talk to the volunteer who's doing body marking, ask them to make the marking on the front part of the arm,” says Thayer. This will give a better angle for readability in the image.

Finally, Newton suggests, “Smile! (If you're into that sort of thing).” Of course, not every race is going to result in a smile at every moment. Some race days are just plain tough. When your inner fighter shows through, it can make some of the best images. Racing is not about modeling on the runway, it's about modeling what's important in life.

“Above all else," says Thayer, "enjoy your event and take pride in knowing that you set a goal and worked hard to achieve it. THAT will show in any image taken at any angle.”

- by Suellen Adams

Focal Flame Photography serves events throughout the Midwest and beyond by providing photo and video production services. We capture high-impact images of people #striving for their goals. Know of a race you'd like us to be involved with? Please mention Focal Flame to the event organizer! Are you a race director interested in working together? Contact us by email or online.