How to Take Running Action Shots for Instagram

This post is long overdue.  And I’m sorry it’s taking me this long to construct it.  So many of you have came up to me at races or asked on social media how I take my running pictures, and I’m sorry I’ve neglected this post that has been sitting in my draft folder for literally months.  So this is for all of you on Instagram and Facebook who keep inquiring about all my dirty photography secrets.    I don’t run with a little photographer.  And no, I don’t run with a paparazzi.  But I do have a couple tricks up my sleeve and I’m revealing them today.

Five years ago, when I first began filling my Instagram feed with snapshots from my life, I didn’t have a plan, theme or scheme in mind. I just took random pictures of my life and posted them: my kids, food, workouts, selfies, landscapes, etc. By no means did I feel like I had to create a certain look or theme to appeal to anyone other than myself. However, through the years, I realized I preferred a certain theme and look to my pictures. Bright, eye appealing shots were what I tried to achieve. And since running was my big passion and one of the accountability reasons why I was on Instagram to begin with, I decided to shift my focus to sharing mostly fitness and running snapshots – the same kind of things I looked forward to seeing from other instagrammers.

Overtime I’ve collected quite a following on instagram.  As with most things, you get better with practice.  And as my creative side started to improve, my running pictures transitioned from simple post run shoe selfies to mid-stride action shots.  And I guess I got the hang of it, because I’ve had many requests asking how I manage to capture my images.  So today I’m going to share with you just how I take my running photos for Instagram using my iPhone and a few other tools.

First and foremost, I always use my iPhone to capture my photos for my feed.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, the best camera for taking pictures is the one you carry with you. That being said, I always have my iPhone 6 plus, so that’s the camera that I use to take most of my pictures.  In addition to my iphone, I will occasionally use a clip on detachable lens to add a little bit of an artistic perspective to my pictures.  There are many available on Amazon, but this one here is the one I use the most.  I like it best because it opens up the composition and captures a much wider range than my iphone is able to on it’s own.

Next, decide what you want to showcase in your shots.  Whether you want to achieve a snapshot of you running through your front yard, or posing while mid stretch session, you’ll want to decide what scene and setup is desired for your “photo shoot.”  Many times I wait until after my run is complete to take my pictures. I tend to focus on my training runs until I’m done, then I’ll setup a scenario in my head during my cool down.

Determine if you need a tripod, or something to prop up your phone to achieve your photo. I used to carry one of those bendable tripods, like this one, but have since realized I can utilize other things without having to carry an additional item with me.  I’ve used everything from a mailbox, to the hood of a car to setup my phone.  Sometimes people think you’re a little creepy, especially if it’s not your mailbox or car you’re using, but it’s all for the sake of Instagram, so it’s worth the dirty looks….maybe.  And quite frankly, the majority of my running pictures are taken from the ground, so just a little something sturdy, like a rock or my water bottle, tends to do the trick quite nicely.  But I will warn you, achieving a flattering image at that angle is much more difficult.

Now comes the difficult part.  Once you determine how you want to capture your action shot, you’ll need to set your phone’s timer and run back and forth in the frame trying to score the perfect angle, pose, and frame.  Let me be the first to admit. There is no easy way to achieve this.  On average, I repeat this process anywhere from two to five times before I’m happy with a frame.   It takes a lot of trial and error and can be very tedious.  But once you figure out which angles and directions you prefer to capture, you can easily setup for pictures without much thought.

One of the biggest tips I can share with you for finding the best pictures is to utilize your video feature.  What do I mean by that?  Set your phone up on video mode.  Then set up your camera and take a video of you running back and forth a few times with your camera. Do it from different depths in the frame with every pass by the camera. Then play it back and pause the frame where you like.  Then take a screenshot of that frame.  With motion, the stills of a video aren’t always great quality, but at least you can pinpoint how you like certain angles, depth and composition.  Then you can recreate those settings and apply them to your front camera with the timer feature, as it takes better quality photos.

Lastly, you’ll want to edit your photos to add your own personal touch and style to your pics.  I play around with a few different apps like PS Express, Pixlr and VSCO before posting to Instagram.

So there you have it.  My personal secrets for taking action shots while running.

 

 

Do you have any tips or tricks that you use for taking great instagram shots?

 

 

 

Haley is a wife, SAHM, runner and yoga enthusiast. She’s a chapter leader for Moms Run This Town and very active in the race community where she lives. She spends her time juggling the duties of motherhood, while training for her various endurance style events.

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