5 Tips for a Better Race Photo

Photographer Emiliano Granado has the cure to your snot-rocket shots.

We’ve all been there before: the last stage of the race, when legs become rubbery and faces contort painfully. Sometimes you sprout T-rex arms, or your limbs begin swinging side-to-side, like a bizarre dance move. And then, just as you crane your neck for a glimpse of the finish, you spot him – a neon-vested photographer, mercilessly snapping shots of the whole, glorious moment.

Race photo fails happen to everyone, from snot rockets, unflattering angles, grimaces and more. Obviously, the homestretch isn’t a fashion runway, and how far our legs have traveled is much more important than how they look in pictures. But for a seemlier souvenir, we asked RW photographer Emiliano Granado (@quesofrito) for tips on nailing a perfect race photo.

Wear your coolest gear

While some photographers claim that bright colours are generally more flattering on runners, Granado says not to be afraid of black or white race gear, if that’s more your style. “I live in New York, so I’m always wearing black,” he laughs. “There’s a lot of really bad running clothes out there, so go with an outfit that’s comfortable and looks really cool.” He recommends wearing sweat-wicking compression clothing as it helps smooth any bumps out and also protects against dreaded chafing rashes.

Nix the hat

“Photographically, hats aren’t great, because they cast a shadow on the runner’s face when it’s sunny overhead,” Granado says. If you’re used to running with a hat all the time, by all means, wear your lucky cap – but be wary of the shadow hiding your profile. (Or toss the hat to a friend well before the finish.) If brightness is an issue, consider wearing racing sunglasses.

Speed up

To avoid the dreaded “race walk” look – you know the one, where both legs are planted awkwardly on the ground – and achieve a hard-core, airborne photo, think about picking up the pace. “During shoots, I usually have models do a short sprint,” Granado says. “When you move fast, all of your muscles are engaged, and everything looks super tight.” In comparison, a slow jog is generally more sloppy, and makes leg muscles appear softer, he adds.

Save the smile for the finish

We get it – when you see a camera, your first instinct is to smile. But spur-of-the-moment grins and hand gestures can look silly, and if you’re gunning for a serious race photo, a mean mug is the best expression to have. “Set your jaw, look straight ahead, pump your arms, and don’t look at the camera,” Granado says.

Don’t look at your watch

Similarly, sneaky watch glances or stopping the time can ruin a race photo. “When you cross the finish line, make sure you run straight through,” Granado says. A wrist peek hits several photo no-nos, as it hides the runner’s face and usually interrupts his or her form. Instead, “Run powerfully through the finish line – really, all the way through – and stop your watch after you clear the shoot.” After all, what’s a few seconds when you have a cover-worthy shot? (And don’t worry, the timing chip has your back.

Related Articles