Amy Koughan, a freelance photographer and long distance runner, is very familiar with the challenges that face a photographer taking pictures at a marathon. Any athletic competition presents particular difficulties for the photographer, but there are some tips that photographers like Koughan use to take quality, memorable pictures of marathons and other distance events.
The photographer should review the marathon course map and pinpoint any areas that will provide pictures of runners experiencing emotions, such as at the top of a hill, or at the finish line of the race. Standing at corners and on the right side of the road, preferably with the sun behind the runners, are excellent locations to capture key moments.
In terms of equipment, using a long lens, fast shutter speed, and burst fire mode can capture highly detailed moments. Burst fire mode in particular can heighten the odds of getting a clear, crisp picture of a person in motion by taking as many frames as possible within that time burst. Sharp apertures can also assist a photographer in snapping a picture that keeps the runner in focus, but the crowd behind him out of focus, emphasizing the subject of the photo.
Successful photographers like Amy Koughan keep careful photo composition in mind when photographing runners in motion. They avoid taking pictures of the runner’s whole body, and instead focus on taking shots from the mid-torso upwards in order to capture movement and the emotion on the runner’s face. Finally, weather conditions can change quickly on race day, so photographers should be sure to travel light but carry protective material for their equipment.