Do you really run with a camera?
And you take photos while you are running?
You don’t stop?
You don’t slow down?
Nope. I’m in a race! I’m running as fast as I can.
How do you carry the camera? In a fanny pack?
No. I need to be able to get a picture at a moment’s notice. If I’m running along and I hear your footsteps behind me, I will kick into a sprint for a few seconds, get into position several yards ahead of you, and match my pace to yours. Then, while I am still running, I’ll stick my hand out and snap a picture or two of you. If my camera was in a fanny pack you’d be long gone by the time I got the camera in my hand, and ready to use.
So how do you carry the camera?
In my hand. That way I’m ready whenever I see something that might make a good picture.
So you carry your camera, in your hand, for an entire race?
Is that hard?
Sometimes my hand cramps up. In cold weather I’ll lose the feeling in my fingers, and might not get it back for hours. It’s not easy. But I love having the ability to capture some amazing moments while I run.
A 5K doesn’t take very long. But you’re saying you’ll carry a camera in your hand all the way up Mt. Washington, or for the entire length of the Boston Marathon?
Yes. I won’t take pictures the whole way…but I’m ready to take pictures at any point.
How can you look through the camera while you’re running?
I don’t. I just stick my arm out and “see with my hand”
Since I was small, I have always been able to hold my arm out in any direction, and point a camera to get a picture. Somehow I know what the camera can see. The pictures are almost always framed properly–but the quality of the focus and the light levels depends on how I’ve preset the camera.
So you fiddle with the camera settings while you run?
Nope. I’m in a race! I’m running as fast as I can. But through extensive experimentation, I’ve discovered which settings work well for a given camera when I’m running on a sunny, or a cloudy, day.
How many pictures do you take?
At a 5K I’ll take 500 or more. At a longer race it will be well over a thousand.
Yes. Then it takes me a couple of days to cull through all those photos for fifty or eighty that are the very best.
How you judge? Why do certain pictures make the cut?
There are the basic factors, of course. A photo must be in focus. It must be properly framed. The important elements can’t be too bright or too dark. It has to tell a story. But hundreds of photos will measure up in that way.
So I make multiple passes through the photos from a given race, and I become ruthless. If I have several photos of a given runner, I look carefully at each one, and ask myself: Which of these would he or she like to see? I only want to post photos where people look their best. If you’re running and you look unhappy, I won’t post that photo. But if I’ve got a photo where you’re filled with Joy…THAT’s the photo I want to post.
But there’s something more. I don’t look at each photo in isolation. Each photo must call out in some way, and stand on its own–but I’m trying to bring people along with me on a race, and that means I’m really trying to share a experience; not just a single moment. So the series of photos must work together. One photo after another…one group of photos after another…will have establish a rhythm. Just as there is a rhythm to any given race, there will be a rhythm to any given series of photos. At the beginning of a race there’s the chaos and crowd of the start. Lots of people–lots of intensity–everyone very close to you. In these photos you can tell that the other runners are all around me…and I want you to feel that they’re all around YOU as you watch. Later in the race, of course, runners get more spread out. So the photos have more distance to them, and the runners become just one element of each photo. The scenery–the contours of the land–become equally important. Hills matter a lot to runners, and if there are hills I try to let you feel those hills via the camera angle and the curve of the road. Finally, there’s the excitement and intensity of the finish. Every runner approaches the same finish line, but they all do it with a different style. And lastly, but definitely not least, I enjoy the post-race experience. Food. Friends. Sometimes beer. It’s not part of the race, but it’s part of the experience–so I try to give a little taste of that.
The challenge is not to find enough good photos–but to be ruthless enough in selecting photos so that the resulting sequence brings a viewer along through the crowd and chaos of the start…through the beauty of the course…to the excitement of the finish…and the warm flush of the post-race.
I really like these photos.
Can I use them on my website?
You can, of course, link from your website to http://runwithken.com … or to any page on runwithken.com But all of these photos and HD videos are copyrighted, which means you can place a photo or video on your website only by permission of the copyright holder. If you’d like permission to use any of these photos, please contact me at the following email address: