Horrible race photos. We’ve all been there.
Anyone who has run a good amount of races has inevitably felt the excitement of seeing race photos displaced by the disappointment of actually seeing the results.
Don’t think you’re alone. Every single person I know who runs has complained about his or her lack of photogenic appearance in race photos.
I still have entire email threads between friends complaining about the latest round of torture.
After viewing a particular cruel round of photos from the GW Parkway Classic in 2009, my friend MJ reflected on one of her photos with this gem: “Do I really run like this? I look like I’m doing some weird toe thing…I look demented in most of these pictures.”
I responded to a photo of mine from the same race with, “What the fuck am I doing here?”
What the fuck, indeed.
Many of us don’t even like to look at our race photos anymore. Emails from Brightroom, MarathonFoto, or ASI Photos now go unviewed since there will not, of course, be even ONE good photo for us to possibly even consider purchasing.
We often wonder why the photographer couldn’t takle flattering photos of us.
But the reason is simple. And almost never the photographer’s fault.
We don’t photograph well in races because we’re running.
Misplaced limbs, jiggling skin, faces contorted in nearly unrecognizable ways.
Race photos not only don’t capture our good sides, they render us looking like sweaty beasts who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In addition, most race photographers set up at the end of a course where they hope to get better shots thanks to a (hopefully) thinned-out crowd.
But the end of a race is where we especially look the most tired, the sweatiest, and where our running form has broken apart the most.
So what’s the answer?
To keep running and hope we get a good race photo once in a while? No.
The answer is to try to look as awful as possible…on purpose.
Don’t smile. Don’t pose. Don’t pretend you’re at a Sears glamour shots studio.
This isn’t your prom or your wedding. You are running, and an object in motion not only tends to stay in motion, it also tends to look awful doing so.
So the next time you’re racing and you see those blue-vested photographers, do the opposite.
Swing those limbs around like you’re losing at tetherball.
Strain your face like you just swallowed a whole pack of lemon drops.
Turn the race photos into a contest and try to look as ugly as possible.
Try being silly and jump in the air. Ironically pint your fingers at the camera like I attempted to do at the NYRR Manhattan Half Marathon in January. Make a face at the photographer.
Because the alternative is to try to look good.
And I’ve seen all your race photos. Trust me, it’s not going to happen.