Well, folks, the inevitable has finally occurred: I have appeared in my very first “bad” race photo. I knew it was coming. Everything had lined up perfectly for me to score some incredible shots at the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot—I felt great, the weather was terrific, all of my smiles were genuine. But I never once caught the eye of a photographer on the course, and I didn’t even see this one at the finish. C’est la vie!
Most runners can point to a photo or two of themselves in a race in which they look absolutely horrible—they’re making a weird face, arms are flailing, feet glued to the ground, etc. (Online slideshows and Tumblr sites devoted to such images abound. I think most people are being too hard on themselves—those are some badass moments captured on film! But I digress…)
I tend to look great in my photos, and I feel pretty darn lucky about that. The cameras usually snap at just the right moment, capturing me either smiling or looking serene. And even the “bad” photos—ones where I’m looking off at something else, or my hair is a wild mess—offer a glimpse of me having a good time. My secret: I really am having a good time. (I love running, people!) Still, I’m not afraid to admit that I ham it up for the cameras, and I fully support you doing it, too. I think it’s worth the two seconds of not focusing on your pace to get a great shot. Here’s how to guarantee you’ll love your next race photo:
Step 1: Find the cameras. Be aware of your surroundings when you’re out there on the course. When you spot a photographer, get into a good position with a clear sightline (make sure you’re not directly behind another runner), and play up your form. Run “perfectly” until you’re past him.
Step 2: Make eye contact. Look directly at the camera—even if you’re not sure if the photographer is focusing on you. Those guys are usually snapping constantly, so they’re bound to get at least one shot of you in that set.
Step 3: Smile. Smile. And then, keep smiling! Because everyone looks better when they’re smiling. Plus, making your mouth turn up for those brief seconds gives takes your mind to a happy place, away from the chore your legs are currently involved in. Even a forced smile allows the good-mood endorphins to start flowing. (Fake it till you make it, right?)