Clues in the photographs

One of the permanent volunteer positions at parkrun is Photographer. Results vary from week to week, according to a number of factors. At Pioneer occasionally the spot isn’t filled for that week, and whomever is on finish tokens or barcode scanning quickly takes a few photos for the first 15 minutes before the first finishers cross the line, or we just don’t bother at all.

The photos are useful promotion for parkrun – each Saturday people’s Facebook feeds load up with photographs of their friends, off running that weird thing that they keep evangelising about. Non-parkrunners who are curious click through to the album and see that we’re all shapes, sizes and speeds, and one day, they feel brave enough to register and come along too.

The quality of photographs each week at parkrun can be because of, or in spite of the photographer’s equipment. We have some fine photographers at Pioneer, but if they don’t bring their own camera they are often thwarted by the camera we have in the parkrun kit – it is a small digital point and shoot that we were given.

The camera has a black dot on the viewing screen which was probably the reason for its discarding, but it still takes a reasonable photo given the right conditions. Its main problem is that it doesn’t have a particularly fast processor in it so despite the photographer’s best efforts, some days before uploading we have deleted images of people who have actually run out of shot before the photo has been taken, leaving only a trailing foot still in the picture.

You can also divide parkrun photographers into two groups – there are people who photograph the runners, and people who photograph the run. One week you will have group shots of runners and scenery, and other weeks its runners singly or two by two in the shot.

Because Pioneer is a lap course you run past some places multiple times, so if the photographer misses you they may be able pick you up on the next go-round. Also, the crowd is small so if you look ahead while you’re running you can usually spot the photographer before they take your photo, giving you time to wipe the drool from your mouth if you’re going particularly hard, or to just smile at the camera if you aren’t aware of more mortifying issues.

And of course, the best bit about parkrun photos is that you can contact the event team if you find a particularly embarrassing photo of you and have it removed from the Flickr collection or the Facebook page quick smart.

Until Lauren advised me that I had a bit of a lean when I ran, I hadn’t noticed it. The majority of the running photos I have are parkrun photos, and as I said, most of the time you see the photographer before you get in shot, so you straighten up, put your shoulders back, and smile. Now I look through a few parkrun photos I can see the lean she mentioned, but not all the time.

When we went to the Gold Coast Airport Marathon it was impressive how many people were there. It was different for me from Blackmores Sydney Half Marathon, because this time I started with everyone else and not with two minutes left in the start window.

This time I was in that long snake of people, everyone following that 2h15m pacer balloon. There were a lot of photography points at Gold Coast, lots of people sat in camping chairs with multiple camera bodies, telephoto lenses attached, hanging from their necks.

(I’ve noticed that large races often have a number of photographers on the route, but when you get the event photography email a few days later all you have are a couple of finish line photos and a few from the automatic cameras attached to the arch. All those people lining the route were amateurs practising, or news organisations only interested in the costumed competitors.)

At Gold Coast I’d be running up some road or over a bridge and too late I’d see the photographer between the group of runners ahead of me. Each time I knew there could be some bad photos in that bundle but as you aren’t obliged to buy the photos you don’t much care. Last week I got a “Hey! Buy your terrible race photos as a Christmas present to yourself!” email from Marathon Photos. I clicked on the link to have a look at them and you can see my form when I’m a bit tired. My shoulders are slumped, with one hip hitched up.

Sometimes the terrible photographs are educational. Terrible, but useful.

One thought on “Clues in the photographs

  1. I’ll admit to a small moment of dread on seeing the running photos I’m tagged in but I agree that they are a great way to see your form – or bad form in my case. And running photos are always happy photos – even when you’re hurting you manage to grimace for the camera. Have yet to try Pioneer but definitely will in the next few months:)


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