How to Master the Running Photo – 5 Tips for Getting the Perfect Running Shot

(Want to download this content as a FREE ebook? Click here!)

Have you ever been scrolling through Instagram and suddenly there’s an amazing photo of someone running?  Ever wonder if they just have professional photographers following them around on their long run?  Well here’s the truth: they don’t.  Most of us just make do with our phone cameras!

One of the most frequent questions I get is “how do you take your running photos?”, so I thought I’d put together a quick little tutorial for you.  I tried to keep it generic to any phone type, but just for reference, I’ve always used an iPhone.


Find a spot to prop up your phone, and then start recording.  Run back and forth in front of it a few times.  Once you have a video, find the perfect pose, pause it, and screenshot it!

Some people use a self-timer, some people use video.  I’d recommended starting with video though, since it has the smallest learning curve.  Simply prop your phone up somewhere (a park bench, a garbage can, a rock, whatever) and start recording.  Try to avoid using the front “selfie” camera if you can.  These cameras are generally a lower quality and your photo will reflect that. Then, just run back and forth in front of your camera a few times!  Make sure to pay attention to how near or far you are from your camera, if you get too far away from it you may not show up very well, but if you’re too close you might end up leaving your head out of the shot.  You may have to try it a few times, but you will eventually learn what distance works best for your camera.  Once you have your video, you can pause it when it looks good and take a screenshot.

To get a more precise video frame to screenshot, you can generally pause the video and use the slider at the bottom.  Carefully slide it back and forth until you find a frame you like!


Bright, but indirect sunlight will help you get the best picture.  Be aware of where the sunlight is in relation to yourself and your phone. Don’t forget to turn off the flash!

Sunlight can either work with you, or against you.  Natural light will help your photo to come out as clear and bright as possible.  For most photos, your best option is to keep the sun either off to the side or behind your camera, that way the full light is hitting you.  Also, running toward the sun rather than away from it will keep your face visible rather than shadowed.

Once you get a feel for that, try playing around with the sun’s location a bit.  Particularly if you are running early morning or in the evening.  Keep in mind though, the closer it is to sunrise/sunset, the less light you will have, which might effect your photo.

Cloudy skies?  Don’t fret.  There should still be enough sunlight to get a good photo…and then a little editing will get you the rest of the way!


Change up the angle for some interesting or artistic shots.  A phone placed on the ground will give a different result than placing your phone on a park bench.

There are many places to prop up your phone.  I’ve been known to use trail signs, trees, benches, even garbage cans!  But sometimes, just placing your phone on the trail can yield pretty awesome results (if your phone doesn’t want to stand on it’s own, use a rock to hold it in place!)

Depending on your scenery, pointing your camera at an angle, rather than straight on, could actually help enhance the photo.

Placing your phone so that the camera is in landscape mode (sideways) will also give you a larger area to work with.


Search for a location that will enhance your photo, rather than distract.  Nature is always a good choice, or choose a building with interesting architecture or a mural.

The scenery is just as much a part of the photo as you are.  Try and find a spot that has simple scenery.  Trees, an open field, or a body of water are good choices.

But not all of us live near those spots!  If your runs take place in a city, try to find simple or interesting architecture.  If you’re in a neighborhood, try and find a simple fence or landscaping for the background.


If you want to look like you’re really flying, exaggerate your stride.  Bounce high and kick those legs out behind you.  You may feel silly, but you just might get some air.

We’ve all seen those photos where it looks like the runner is flying! Those photos are not always easy to get.  To help get them, you’ve to to break the rules.  Exaggerate your stride.  Bounce high and kick your legs out behind you.  Play around with your speed as well.  Running slowly will yield different results than sprinting will.  Try several paces to see which you prefer.

Keep in mind, the angle of your video will also help if you’re looking for a shot of your feet off the ground.  Angles that are lower and straight on can help you get what you’re looking for.  Even if what you’re looking for is a good splash!

You’ll feel silly, and honestly you’ll probably look silly, but it just might work!  While you’re focusing on your stride, don’t forget to smile!

Need to keep a reminder handy? Here’s an inforgraphic you can Pin for future reference!

 Link-up with PattyErika, and Marcia!


13 thoughts on “How to Master the Running Photo – 5 Tips for Getting the Perfect Running Shot

  1. Great tips! I learned the taking a video one trying to get a good shot of my sister doing gymnastics. It seemed impossible without a camera meant for action shots. then Someone told me to take a video and take a picture of that, world changed. LOL

  2. I’ve done a few posts on this topic as well. It always amazes me how some people do great things with the cameras or phones and others just don’t have the knack. I also see a lot of folks using the same angle, which gets monotononous. You’ve got some great tips shere!

  3. So many bloggers have such beautiful mid run photos, just like yours! I will admit that I just don’t take the time to do it. The most I do is snap a selfie of me outside just as I finish a run.

    1. I don’t often take my photos mid-run. My favorite spot is about a half mile from my house, so it’s easy to stop and take a photo during my cool down so I don’t interrupt my actual run. I’ve also been known to get home and make one of my kids take a photo of me running right outside our house 😉

  4. These are great tips! I do feel silly trying to get poses like this but one day I’ll be brave enough to give it a try…people can create such cool shots!

    1. You should definitely try! I still feel a little silly (especially when doing jump shots haha!) but I figure if someone sees me, there’s a slim chance I’ll ever see them again 😉

Leave a Reply