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Action Sports Photography
How to photograph joggers and runners

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Mason Resnick is the editor of the Adorama Learning Center and a lifetime photography enthusiast.

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How to photograph joggers and runners

Keep close and keep track

Today, let's take a run at photographing fleet-footed subjects, and see how it jogs your creativity.

The nice thing about photographing runners and joggers is that in most cases, you can photograph them from a relatively intimate distance with a wide-angle lens. This kind of accessibility is simply not possible in most other sports.

What you need:

  • A Digital SLR
  • A wide-angle zoom lens
  • A modest telephoto lens (optional)


© Michael Flippo

To photograph a jogger running past you, you’re better off at a slight distance shooting with a telephoto lens. Leave room around the jogger. You can show a sense of motion by panning with the runner and shooting at a slow shutter speed. Start at 1/15 second and experiment. Alternatively, choose a fast shutter speed (1/500 or faster) to freeze the action.



© Jenny Hill

At a close distance, use a wide-angle lens, pre-compose your image, based on how you want the runner positioned relative to the background, and focus on a predetermined spot where you expect the runner (fortunately a wide-angle lens has plenty of depth of field, so focus isn’t a critical issue here). Crouch down and wait for the runner to go by, and shoot a quick burst when he runs into the focused zone.

When shooting at oncoming runners with a telephoto lens, put the camera in Focus Tracking mode so it will change focus in real time as the runners approach. Consider using burst mode to give you a variety of choices, especially if you’re photographing a group.


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