Running and Photography
Running and photography are two hobbies I’m very fond of. This post will go through why I’m such an avid running photographer and why I think it can enhance your running experience. I will also list the tips I’ve found helpful in getting the best shots.
So, can you easily combine the two?
I say heck yes! I’m a self-professed amateur at both which gives me the freedom to do each with no pressure whatsoever. I’ve also found that they compliment each other by giving some nice little advantages to both.
Running, and trail running in particular, provides some wonderful subject material. As I’m especially fond of nature there are numerous possibilities for photo opportunities.
The mountains, the trees, streams, birds and other wildlife. The way the sun hits the ocean at certain times of the day. A beautiful wildflower. There is also the opportunity for a bit of silliness out on the trail. Nothing like some silly/crazy/fun selfies to break up the monotony.
Need some more inspiration? Check out my post on my favourite trail running quotes here.
Chance for a Breather..
I’m sure my husband rolls his eyes many times as I randomly stop for another photo somewhere behind him. He probably thinks it’s purely a gimmick for a chance to stop and rest. Another aspect of photography complimenting the run…
Not only is it a really nice opportunity to document the run, but it really does add a fun factor – or “distraction” factor even. When things feel tough it’s a great way to change things up, keep it interesting (and yes, have a breather if really needed).
But I Don’t Have a Good Camera…
As I said, I am no professional photographer. What’s more I most certainly don’t take a large professional camera out on the run with me. I’m already slow enough as it is!
I find my trusty iPhone quite ample and have taken many photos that have become my favourites. Phones are becoming more and more advanced and the cameras really are quite remarkable now.
How you carry your phone is really a personal choice. I actually don’t mind just carrying mine in my hand as it has a flip style case around it. There are also arm bands and fitness belts and even running clothing designed to carry them in. With the phone in my hand it’s a simple matter of stopping the watch and then opening the camera on the phone.
Let it Happen Naturally
What I like to do is only stop for a photo when a scene catches my attention. If it’s something that makes me take a second look or a moment of awe then it’s worth me trying to capture it.
The number one rule of course is to take a real moment to appreciate what’s before me. If it’s a scene that might change, I will prioritise taking the photo first. But either way, I try to make sure I bring myself to the present moment and just enjoy. Mental pictures.
Stopping to appreciate these scenes out on the trail or run is another fantastic way to bring mindfulness into our lives. Time to Reconnect.
Documenting the Snapshots
I currently have 7,788 photos on my iPhone. I would be pretty sad if the phone died on me and these little memories vanished forever. This is why it’s nice to archive them somewhere for later reference.
For me, this includes Instagram and Strava. There are many other possibilities also, it really depends on your personal preference (eg.Facebook). There are also traditional file storing options. While this is a good idea and good back up, I find these photos become out of sight, out of mind.
If you have a personal account, Instagram is a lovely little timeline of special memories. It’s really one of my favourite things about it because let’s face it, we generally only upload photos that are special to us for some reason.
I like to occasionally sit down and scroll through my feed and it brings up fond and sometimes forgotten moments of the past. “Oh wow, that’s when we were in Amsterdam remember?” or “Haha, remember the girls having that snow fight at McDonalds!?”
Strava is a great app for documenting your sporting accomplishments and connecting with other athletes. As it also has the feature of being able to upload your photos to specific workouts, it can be used similarly to Instagram.
This aspect is great to associate a certain run with an image. A nice reminder of the conditions, what you saw and a memory of how you felt.
Tips for Photography on the Run
Use the quick camera function on your iPhone. Rather than unlocking the phone, going to the camera app, opening it up etc. you can simply swipe up on the screen for quick function options. This includes the camera app so by pressing this the camera is quickly available.
The Rule of Thirds
There is a general rule in photography called the rule of thirds. It’s basically a guideline on subject placement in your photo – making it visually more interesting. Imagine two vertical lines and two horizontal lines dividing your photo into thirds. The idea is to place important elements on one of the grid lines or their intersections.
Another clever feature of the iPhone is the option to bring up these grid lines which makes the rule of thirds very easy. As you practice with the help of the grid lines you will find you no longer need them after some time.
How to Turn on the Grid on your iPhone camera:
1. Launch the Settings app from the Home screen of your iPhone.
2. Tap on Photos & Camera. You have to scroll down a bit to find it.
3. Tap the switch next to Grid to turn it on. It’s about halfway down, under the Camera section.
The general rule for landscapes is not to place the horizon smack in the centre. This can be compositionally ‘boring’. Again, use the rule of thirds which will instantly enhance your image.
It’s amazing to me how a series of photos of the same view can be so different depending on angle, light and subject placement. Have fun and play around to find what works for you. Silhouettes, reflection, focusing in on tiny objects with an unfocused background. There are many ways to be creative and have fun with it.
Although the rule of thirds is a good guideline, it’s not a must. At the end of the day, it’s finding the scene that is aesthetically pleasing to you. As you are getting an instant view of your photo when using the phone, you can immediately get an appreciation for the photo you are about to capture.
I like to look at it and play around to where I find a balanced scene that appeals to me. And by balanced I don’t mean equal; I mean that the subjects have an overall complimentary, natural, I guess – harmonious look. Try to imagine your photo as a large work that is framed and hanging in a gallery. How does it look?
Another tip for when you are looking for that exact moment in an action shot is to take some video. I take many photos of Andrew running. Let me tell you there is a huge difference in the outcome depending on the exact moment in the run stride.
One clever tip is to take a short video (10 – 30 seconds or more if desired) which can be edited later for the best shot. The iPhone allows you to slow-mo through the footage and stop on the exact moment you like.
How to Save an Image from Your iPhone Footage
1. Play the video.
2. Pause the video.
3. Use the small scene-scroll feature at the bottom of the screen to scroll through the video.
4. Stop on a desired view.
5. You will see the play symbol returns to screen – tap the screen again (not on play symbol) and it will disappear.
6. Take a screenshot of the image by holding the home button and the power button together at the same time.
Taking photos on your run is a great way to add a novelty factor whilst also providing lasting memories.
Ultimately, that view that stops you in your tracks should be a moment to stop and be present and take it in. Having the opportunity to catch that moment forever in a photo is merely a bonus.
I would love to hear your stories on photography and running. Do you stop to take photos on your run? Do you have a favourite running photo? Or do you have any other tips you’d like to share? Please leave me a comment below!
Happy trails and happy snaps!