Tips to successfully take running photos of others

I have been taking photos for a little while now, so I thought I’d share some of my findings so far. I am not a pro, but I have taken photos people like of them running! So I have some tips I think you will find useful if you’d like to give it a go.

First off I’d like to thank Adrian / Digifire Photography for teaching me so much and helping me get started.

It’s really lovely when someone lets you know they like a picture you took of them running and practice makes perfect, so I try to go along to parkrun as much as possible and I’d like to photograph a race sometime, too.

You don’t need heaps of experience or to know all the techy things just to give it a try.

Here they come!



Smartphone or DSLR? This blog post is mainly focused on using a DSLR, however most phones have manual modes and burst shots that can help you take nice photos, too.


I used a longer lens to capture the start from a distance – once the runners hit the bend I switched to a shorter one for when they ran past.

It was pretty nervey trying to get it changed in time but I managed it!


If needed, I like to hide in bushes though.

Lighting & Location

I check course lighting / shadows etc before I begin and will take a test shot or two as I mention below. It’s important to think about where you’re going to stand and where the sun will be. Overcast days are better, but just have a think about where the sun will be if it does make a miraculous appearance one day.

Try to get the light behind a runner, as runners are pretty sweaty and can become very shiny.

If you are taking photos for the first time somewhere, do you have time to walk part of the course at all? Have you run it before and know a great place to go? I found re-running parkrun in reverse gave me a whole new perspective on where to take photos – as that would be the way I was facing.


My favourite way to set up my position and check for light / shadow / oh no there’s a bin in the way problems is to take a few practice shots. If there is a marshal nearby I might get them to run up and down, too!

Below are a couple of “empty” shots I used to get my composition right and make sure they weren’t going to be over or under exposed.

There are so many tips out there on composition but the things I try to take note of is the background and rule of thirds (where possible, big groups of runners can be tricky!). There’s a whole heap more to composition than just this, so it’s worth reading up on.


If you are just starting out – use something such as sport mode to help you get used to taking photos of lots of runners and thinking about all the things you have to do at the same time. When you’re ready to move on you have a few things you can try adjusting for great shots. This is what I am currently working on, so I have explained these as simply as I can for people starting out like me. There’s lots more to it of course and photography sites out there that can give you the ins and outs of all the settings.

Auto focus

Auto focus can struggle with big groups of runners moving quickly – you can set a focus and keep it there manually if required.


This means if it’s big, lots of light can come in to the camera as there’s a big hole for light to come in. The smaller the number, the larger the physical hole.

If you’d like all of your shot to be in focus, you’ll want a smaller aperture (higher number). If you’d like your background to be more blurry, used a higher aperture (lower number).


ISO is how sensitive the camera is to light. Using a higher setting you can get more noise in your photos, but is useful in darker places.

Shutter speed

Shutter speed is how long the shutter is open for. If you want to capture something moving quickly with no blur, you’ll want a quick shutter speed. If you’d like blur, make it slower.


I try and interact with runners once they are in shot, with a wave or a hello – this helps with them knowing where you are taking the photo. It might be obvious to the photographer – but think to when you are running and you spot a race photographer, you don’t always know when they are taking the photo of you.

Stay out of the way

Make sure you don’t get carried away and on to the path!

I hope you enjoyed these tips and I hope to go more in depth in future blog articles about specific areas. Let me know if you give it a go!