an athlete photographer's blog

How to Take a Great {Running} Picture of Yourself (Guest Post)

Hi!  I’m Vanessa, Alexia’s cousin.  Our dads are brothers, so we happen to have a lot in common, such as our love for running & photography.  I’m honored to write this guest post for Alexia, as I’ve been loving her new Picture Runner blog!

Many of us runners like to see pictures of ourselves running.  It may be a vanity thing, or maybe it just gives us visual proof that we are just a bit fast/awesome/strong/fierce while running.  Whatever your reason, here is my 8 step process to taking a great picture of yourself–specifically for this blog, an action shot of running.

1.  Locate the timer button on your camera. 10 seconds is sufficient but if your camera can do more then more time is better, to give yourself time to get into position.  I used 10 seconds.  I will explain how below.If you don’t know how to use the timer function on your camera, read the manual or google it, it will be well worth your time.

2.  Get to your desired location, and set your camera down, ideally on a flat, stable surface where it won’t fall.  In my example, I went to my fave running spot, Salem Lake.  I set the camera first on a bench, then on a guardrail post.

3.  Look through the viewfinder to compose your picture.  Make sure there is enough room for yourself in the frame.  A wide angle lens will accomplish this easily (I used my Tamron 10-24mm).  Note: simple backgrounds usually make better backgrounds. Easier on the eyes 🙂

4.  If you want the sharpest image possible, you will need to switch your camera to manual.  Focus on the ground or another object where you think you will be running.  You may have to modify the focus after taking a picture or two, and seeing how it turned out.  In my mind’s eye, I visualize about how far I will be able to run to get away from the camera, then turn around and start running back towards the camera.This might take some practice.

5.  Mentally prepare yourself to count down from ten.  Hit the shutter button gently, so as not to disturb the camera’s position and mess up the focus you set in manual mode.

6.  Now that the timer is going, you have to hurry to get to the spot where you focused.  I like to countdown from 10, using the first 6 seconds to run away from the camera, turn around at 7, and take the last 3 seconds to run as fast as possible back towards your camera.

7.  Relax your face–I had to do several retakes because I was concentrating so hard on counting, and running fast.  Optional: smile.

8.  Go back to the camera and check out how your picture turned out. You will probably need to repeat steps 3 through 7 to get a few good ones to choose from.

The Results:

Here’s the SOOC (straight out of camera) one I took from the bench (you can see I had a silly look on my face–but caught it mid-stride stride though, go figure!)

SOOCI did a crop to get rid of the truck in the background, and some quick “spot reduction” for the other cars (I basically copied some trees/background and covered the cars… you can see it if you look closely)

EditThis one is my favorite, taken from the guardrail next to the Linville Road side of Salem Lake.

FavoriteBut of course, a blooper with the super-concentrating face happened too:

BlooperI hope that helps you budding photographer-runners to take sweet running shots of yourself!  Feel free to comment or contact me to discuss further, I’m always happy to help!


About the Guest Blogger:

headshotVanessa is a long time photographer and runner from North Carolina.  Her blog is centered around her three favorite things, Eating, Running, and Traveling, but she also delivers stunning pictures with each post.  Be sure to check out more from Vanessa here:



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