The curious case of the race photographer.

The Curious Case of the Race Photographer

Plying Their Trade: Race Photographers in Action!

Some people (like me) enjoy running races. Other people seem to enjoy photographing people who run these races. It’s this second group, that of the freelance Race Photographer, that has captured my attention.

A race photographer.
Los Angeles Half-Marathon 2011 Photographer #1

To be clear, I really don’t mind being photographed during a race. I’m in a public place, often running on city streets, so I’m fair game. But I have no idea why a complete stranger would want to own a photo of me mid-stride, sucking down a packet of Gu. Commerce comes to mind, naturally, but an image of me running can’t be all that bankable — it’s certainly not to me.

I will admit here, however, that I do get a bit annoyed when some company emails me with an offer to sell me a photo of myself running for $30 (plus shipping & handling — and scaling up from there). This does not seem like a good deal to me.

A race photographer.
Los Angeles Half-Marathon 2011 Photographer #2. Notice he’s out of focus — the dangers of shooting from the hip.

Yet after running many races, I have become rather fascinated with the character of the Race Photographer. What sort of person would stand in one spot for hours, watching people run by, just to capture their image for a single, frozen moment? (And then possibly sell that image back to the runner for a somewhat lofty sum?)

The Race Photographer has fascinated me so much, I have started carrying a camera during my races so I, in turn, can capture these individuals in an effort to glean some insight into their raison d’être (and I’m not talking about beer).

A race photographer.
Los Angeles Half-Marathon 2011 Photographer #3

This isn’t as easy as it sounds — and not all my photos turn out that great (I am running, after all) — but enough turn out to be good enough for public consumption.

You can view the entire set on Flickr in a set I like to call appropriately, Race Photographers.

And hey, if you’re a Race Photographer and like what you see of yourself, go ahead and download a copy. I won’t even charge you.


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