11 Ways to Improve Your Marathon Photography

If you are looking for ways to improve your marathon photography, then this blog post is for you. We asked some of the experts to help you develop your skills as a photographer.

marathon photography

1. Learn to shoot in black and white.

Black and white is the classic way of shooting a marathon because it emphasizes the character of a race. Black and white images can make your marathon pictures look more dramatic, particularly if you use the right lighting and contrast settings. Some cameras will allow you to shoot black and white images, but many people prefer using software such as Photoshop Elements or Lightroom. However, it is very important to understand how to get the best results from the software.

There’s a certain magic to black-and-white photography that can’t be captured in color. The reason is that black-and-white images lack the richness of color, which makes for much more interesting and effective images. A great place to start when photographing a race is at the starting line. The moment of setting off on a run, or on a bike, is an important and interesting moment and you can capture it best in black-and-white. There are a number of ways to get a stunning black-and-white image of this moment. For example, you could photograph the moment you cross the finish line. You could capture the moment someone crosses the line, or the moment you yourself are crossing the line. And finally, you could use a different color for each runner or cyclist as they go past.

You’ll find that most runners and cyclists look very similar. There are also some obvious differences such as the color of a runner’s shirt or a biker’s helmet, and these can be used to make your images more unique. If you’re photographing the event from the sidelines, you’ll see plenty of runners and cyclists from many different races and backgrounds, all passing by in the same way. As a result, the same image will be used over and over again. This isn’t a bad thing as it gives a nice, uniform, visual pattern to your images. The other thing to remember is that most of us don’t want to stand still while taking photos, so it’s better to have a long lens so you can move with the crowd and capture an interesting angle.

As you are shooting, don’t forget to think about how you’ll edit the photos after you’ve taken them. How do you want to use the image? Are you going to print it on a canvas, mount it on a wall, use it for a blog post or even frame it and put it up in your house?

As you start to photograph the race, keep in mind what you want to capture in your images. Do you want to show people’s faces, or perhaps their running style? Perhaps you want to highlight one person more than another? Try to think carefully about what will be best in black-and-white before you take your photos.

 How to shoot in black and white

The first thing to do is make sure you are using the right camera. Most race photographers tend to use a Nikon DSLR. It’s a good camera to use as it is able to shoot both in color and in black and white at the same time. For the best results, try to use a lens with a wide aperture of around f/2.8 or f/3. This is so that there’s enough light to get a long exposure with. Some photographers use an adapter for this, which gives them the ability to switch from auto to manual shooting.

As you’re taking photos, don’t forget to use a tripod. You’ll find that if you hold your camera steady, you can often still have enough movement in your images to capture the moment in your black-and-white.

Before you take your shots, make sure that your subject is well lit. This means that you need to be near a window or perhaps on a bright road or open space. The best time to take photos is right before or after the race starts. If there are more than one race taking place, you could try getting up close to the starting line and just wait until the first race has started. You could then get as close as you dare without being seen, and capture the first runners or cyclists as they set off.

After you’ve taken your photos, don’t forget to change the settings on your camera. This way, when you’re editing your photos you’ll have the correct settings.

Once you’ve edited your images, don’t forget to think about how you’re going to use them. Are you going to print them? Frame them? Or are you going to use them on a blog post or even as a collage?

Don’t forget to be safe! It’s always best to keep your camera in a safe place and take it out of your pocket only when you are ready to take your photos. This means that if you get separated from your camera, you won’t be able to take any more photos and you won’t be able to edit them.

2. Choose a good race

Start by choosing a race that has a good race director. This will help you develop good race etiquette and good relations with your fellow runners. Choose a race that has good visibility, plenty of opportunities for good marathon shots and that runs a variety of distances, such as 10K, half marathon, marathon and ultra-marathon. This will help you to become familiar with various running styles and to learn to take good photos of all sorts of runners. It will also give you the chance to learn how to capture a race with depth.

3. Learn to shoot a race with depth.

marathon photography

If you are taking shots of runners on the course, you will want to be able to shoot them in close-up. For this, you need to learn to use the zoom feature. You can then capture the runners in full-face, side and back view, allowing you to capture the energy and emotion of the race. If you don’t have a zoom lens, then you could also try photographing the runners from above, so they appear more distant and 3-dimensional.


4. Take some training first

If you want to photograph a marathon, take some training first. Find out what you need to do to run the race in the best possible way. The website www.marathonguide.com can be helpful for this. If you are not sure about the distance of the race, check it out on the internet. If you are unsure of whether your camera has enough resolution for the marathon length, check out the internet too.

I am going to assume that your camera has an APS-C or smaller sensor. You will need at least an 18–55mm lens, which may not be available. You can buy one for less than £100 (but then again you could get a new car for the same amount). I recommend the Sigma 24–105mm zoom lens, which is good value at around £170. It is a fast aperture lens, which means that you should only use it on a tripod and set the focal length to infinity. You will probably find that you need to get a tripod for the camera to keep it steady.

Try photographing someone running. When taking photos of people, always remember to ask permission first. You may be able to get permission from a race official or another runner you know. If this is not possible, try photographing a child or small pet first. Children are easier to photograph than adults as they have no self-consciousness and are less likely to react badly when their photo is taken. Pets are easy to photograph too as they often do not mind being photographed. When you photograph a child or a pet, you can get closer without worrying about them jumping up and moving.

5. Learn to use flash creatively.

Some people find that they don’t like shooting with flash on a bright day. However, it can be a great way of capturing images when you want to add drama to your pictures. If you have an expensive camera with flash, it might be worth investing in a powerful flash diffuser such as a Profoto Softbox or Profoto Octabox. These will ensure that the light is even and soft, which makes for better-looking pictures.


6. Make sure you use good settings.

You need to make sure you are using the correct settings for the type of marathon you are taking pictures of. If you are photographing a flat marathon or one with little running, then you need to use the lowest ISO and aperture settings that you can. If you are photographing a hilly marathon, then it’s best to use a high ISO setting. The best time to use flash is at the start of the race, when there are lots of runners. However, if you are shooting a half-marathon, then you should wait until after the halfway mark.


7. Learn to edit your pictures.

It’s important to learn how to edit your images in Photoshop Elements or Lightroom so you can get the best out of your marathon pictures. You should firstly sharpen your images to ensure that they are in focus. Secondly, you should adjust the exposure and brightness. Then you can play around with different effects. For example, you could use the ‘Monochrome’ filter, which will make your images look more dramatic and black and white. You can also use the ‘Fresnel’ filter, which creates a soft light effect.


8. Learn to take better shots.

marathon photography

The best way to improve your photography is to take lots of practice shots. This is especially true if you have just started taking pictures of marathons. As well as practicing on a camera with a manual setting, it’s good to have a friend who is experienced in taking pictures run alongside you. They can offer you tips on how to take better pictures, such as using the flash creatively or how to control the shutter speed.

9. Make sure you have plenty of batteries.

If you are taking pictures of a marathon, then you will need to carry lots of extra batteries with you, to ensure you have enough to keep going through the race.


10. Take along some water and snacks.

If you are taking pictures of a marathon, you will want to have something to eat and drink. You may also want to take along a camera case or bag for your camera, to keep your equipment safe during the race.


11. Have fun!

It’s good to have some fun when you are taking pictures of a marathon. You can get people to smile or look more relaxed by using a wide-angle lens and shooting from an angle.

Other tips

marathon photography

You can buy some sports clothing, such as a cap, jersey and shorts, from a sports shop. This will enable you to blend in better and you will be able to run in a more natural way.

Try running with your camera on a mobile phone. If you don’t have a camera with a built-in flash, consider carrying a flash with you. If you do not have a camera with a built-in flash, you can use an external flash. If you have a smartphone, the front-facing camera is a good option for photographing marathon runners. You can check the internet to see if your mobile phone has a large enough sensor for the length of the race. Some people choose to use a camera phone as their main camera and then buy a separate camera for other types of photos.

Try running with a friend. It is often easier to photograph people if they are with others. This enables you to keep an eye on them and to keep them under control.

Get the best lens that you can afford and try to make it as small as possible. I recommend getting the Sigma 24–105mm zoom lens. A zoom lens makes it easier to get close to people, especially if you are using a smartphone. You will also need a tripod, but it does not have to be heavy.

Keep your camera in your bag with you during the race. You can take some time before the race starts to take some practice shots. Some photographers, such as those who specialize in race photography, wait until the runners reach the finish line and then take some shots. Others prefer to go for the shot as soon as the runners pass by. It is up to you.

When taking photos of runners, try to get them at a distance of at least 40 m away. You should aim to capture images that are as high in resolution as possible, such as 4,000 x 3,000 pixels. If you have the ability to shoot RAW files, you can use them to improve the quality of your images. You can check the resolution of your camera in advance using the website www.nikkor-usa.com/usability.

A few things to remember:

1. When doing marathon photos, there are a few things that can improve your chances of a good photo: a good subject, proper framing, good light, and composition.

2. Use a tripod. Don’t use a monopod. A tripod is a must if you want to do your best at long distance photography. You will learn how to properly use a tripod on this site.

3. Make sure your camera has a manual mode (you cannot rely on auto). You will learn how to use auto. This will not work for long distance photography.

4. Learn the difference between a focal length and a focal distance. The former is the distance from the center of the lens to the subject, while the latter is the distance from the center of the lens to the edge of the frame.

5. Know when and how to use the flash. You can use it as fill light or you can.


I hope these tips will help you to become better at photographing marathon runners. But the most important tool to improve your marathon photography is your brain. You have to be willing to put in the time to really become an expert at it.