How to Look Good in Race Photos

A man and woman hold hands during a race.

Race photos are tangible memories that you can cherish forever…unless you’re giving the photographer a mean mug while looking like you’re moments away from death. For some runners, posing for race photos simply isn’t a priority when you’re out on the course chasing a personal best. But having amazing race photos can help you look back on your accomplishment fondly, whether you hit your goal time or not. If you’re gearing up for a big race, here are five tips to get you camera-ready. Hint: some of these tips might help you run faster, too!

1. Plan ahead

Just as you should map out your pacing, fueling and hydration strategy, you’ll want to plan out a special race outfit ahead of time. Maybe you have a lucky tank top or a funky pair of shorts. Whatever the case, you should pick an outfit that makes you feel comfortable. This will help exude confidence, which comes across on camera.

Some races make it possible to map out where you’ll be posing for race photos by looking up the online course map. Sometimes, the course map not only denotes mile markers and water stops but marathon photographers as well. Knowing where the photographers are placed will help you be ready for your close up.

2. Wear accessories

A man and woman smile during a race.

After you’ve planned out your race outfit, consider your accessories, too. Wearing a hat or a pair of sunglasses will help you avoid squinting in the sun and looking like a newborn puppy opening its eyes for the first time.

Not only will a hat or sunglasses improve your race photos, it can protect your skin from damaging UV rays that cause premature wrinkling and skin cancer.

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3. Smile

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it can be harder than you think to flash a grin when you’re huffing and puffing for dear life.

Not only will smiling make your race photos look pretty, it just might help you nail a new PR. That’s right, a 2017 study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise found that “periodic smiling may improve movement economy during vigorous intensity running.”

In other words, cracking a smile when you feel like you’ve emptied the tank can help you run more efficiently with a lower perceived rate of effort.

4. Check posture and recompose

Seeing the race photographer can be a good reminder to check in on your form. Many runners hunch their shoulders and drag their legs as they hit the final, fatigued stages of a race.

Keep your shoulders in an upright position, relax your arms, pick up your legs, and check your breathing. No matter how tired you are, try to make it look easy and effortless. Not just because it will look great in race photos, but because it will help your body push past that fatigue and run efficiently to the finish line.

5. Celebrate!

A woman throws up her hands to celebrate during a race.

Now it’s time for the fun part. The finish line is in sight and, admit it, you can’t wait to stop running. The finish line of every race is typically where there are the most photo opportunities. This is a great time to let the emotions of the race finally take over. Throw your hands up in the air and roar triumphantly—you’ve earned it!

While you’re likely focusing on the time on your watch, refrain from stopping your watch until after you’ve crossed the finish line. Photographers will be taking your picture right at the finish, and it makes for a much better photo when you’re looking up and smiling rather than looking down at your watch.

Keep in mind that not all races have photographers on course. If you want photos of yourself racing during a smaller race, consider having a spouse, parent or close friend stand along the course at a predetermined location with a camera or phone.

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