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How to Take a Great Running Picture with your Phone

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Over the past few years advances in technology have introduced all sorts of extra new aspects to the running experience. What was once a minimalistic exercise is now characterized by an array of sensors, monitors, trackers and other wearable gear.

And, despite the performance-enhancing benefits of these gadgets, it tends to be the photographic features that get the mot attention. Sure, you’re cell phone can likely track your run and produce an extremely useful report on your progress. But, also… selfies. Unfortunately, athletes don’t always look their best when their in the midst of training. So, how can you take great running pictures? More importantly, are there any actual benefits to this habit?

More Than Vanity

Before discussing how effectively take a quality picture while running, though, we should tackle that second question: Why would you want to? Often, people dismiss running photography – particularly of the selfie variety – as a bit of a self-indulgence. So… is it?

Like so many things, that all depends on you. For many runners, involving photography in their workouts is simply a way to make things more interesting and, therefore, enjoyable. This is particularly true of those who are fortunate enough to train outside in scenic areas. Actively looking for great shots while you’re out running could give you the incentive to enjoy your surroundings more.

What about selfies, though? Granted, not everyone is into the self-photography movement that’s taken over the athletic community over the past few years. Still, it has it’s place. For those who enjoy it, social media – with its emphasis on selfies – can be a pretty powerful motivator. On these platforms, you can quickly find a community of supportive runners with whom to share your pictures.

Depending on how it’s done, taking pictures or filming yourself while running can also have technical benefits. This sort of “observer’s view” can give you the chance to see your technique and check your form. Of course, if you’re trying to use photography for this purpose, you aren’t going to be as concerned about aesthetics so the approach will be considerably different.

Regardless of your reasons, then, the fact remains that taking pictures while you’re running can be a way to keep things interesting and motivational.

Staying Focused

Of course, there is the danger of getting so absorbed in your photographic pursuits that your workouts suffer. So, how can this pitfall be avoided?

The simplest approach would be to be picky about when you stop to take a few shots. Granted, this will depend on your training style and routine but – if you’re like most runners – the chances are pretty high that your program allows for easy days. Since these runs are designed to be slower paced and less intense, it’s a perfect chance for you to indulge your photographic interests.

Which brings up a key point: Don’t allow this to become a distraction. The point of your workouts is to run, not take pictures. The later should be more of an afterthought.

How To Do It

With the more philosophical aspect of this pursuit out of the way, it’s time to talk about the technical features. How can you successfully take pictures, and selfies, while running?  In the age of smartphones, it may seem like a foregone conclusion but it still needs to be said. Don’t go overboard with your gear. For your purposes, your smartphone will get the job done. And, most of the time, runners will already be carrying their phones – albeit for other uses.

If you do decide to get fancy with it, you might decide to bring along an action camera. These light-weight, durable and adaptable little pieces of tech can easily become part of your kit and are particularly useful if you’d like to get video for form check or the like. For selfies, though, the smartphone is still your best bet.

Now, for the hard part – making the pictures look good. First, select an interesting background. You likely find yourself in all sorts of beautiful places. Capture that.

runners on road

You can also get some really incredible picture by experimenting with the angle and lighting of your shot. Don’t feel like all of your pictures have to be the standard “selfie angle.” Thanks to timers and voice-activated shutters, you can capture all sorts of creative images.

While you’re experimenting, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of your pictures aren’t going to be useable. Either the framing will be totally off our you’ll appear as little more than a blur of color. But maybe that’s what you’re going for.

Finally, ask yourself why you’re taking that picture. Are you having a particularly great run? Did you just accomplish a goal or finish a race? Are you in a special place or unique environment? The real secret behind taking a great running picture is simply to have fun with it.

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