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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Running commentary

I've been shooting running events for some time now for both event organisors and for event-photography providers but I've also found a handy market for nice, creative stock images in the running mags. They often use single shots as "inspiration" for great running locations or scene-setters for seasonal features. Luckily I have contacts - so I manage to line up keen athletes who are up for a bit of fun, some nice pics for their blog and the chance to appear in the magazines. Looks good down at the running club!

This month (March 2012 at the time of writing) you can see the photograph above appearing as a double page spread inside Trail Running mag, courtesy of my excellent athlete/model, Georgie and her long suffering hubby.

Even though the photo is only now appearing in the early spring edition, prompting thoughts of warm spring evenings, daylight that is still around after you've clocked off work, and temperatures that make wearing lycra just a bit more appealing, the photo-shoot actually took place last year. That makes it almost 10 months to get into print; talk about planning ahead!

I'd scoped out the location from previous visits and even previous photo-shoots in the same place, up near the head of the Kentmere valley, in the Lake District. It was easy and quick to get to by car for both of us, right after Georgie got out from work at the design house where she is a graphic designer by day. After hours sat staring at a Mac screen she needs little excuse to get out for a run. Getting onto the hill fast was key here because we would run out of daylight fairly quickly, but the whole point of doing these things in the evening is the light. All photographers know about "Magic Hour", that special time of the day when the sun is low in the sky, lighting up everything with a golden glow, about 20 minutes before sunset. I don't know why it's ever been called magic "hour" 'cos it never lasts for an hour! More like 10 minutes if you're lucky!

On this occasion we were lucky. I like to think I make my own luck - hey, I got a location sorted, a model sorted, a time and a place to meet, why shouldn't I be lucky? It's all in the planning. Anyway, things went pretty well. I made sure to tell Georgie to bring some bright, primary colours to wear. No point in shooting black or navy blue in a landscape, your model's just going to disappear into the murk. What you want is bright reds, orange, yellow, lime green - that sort of thing. Stands right out - zingy colours against the background.

And so, 10 months later when the editor drops me an email to ask if I happen to have anything summery, bright and inspirational for the inside cover, well - I just happen to have just the thing...

The point of all this is that planning ahead in any kind of photography pays. If you just react to whatever you see from day-to-day, you will get some great images - now and then - but you will also be relying on good fortune, chance, random circumstances and coincidence to be in the right place at the right time with the right subject in the right light.
Much better to plan ahead and make pictures happen, rather than hoping you'll stumble upon them. Photographers are in the business of "creating" images. That means you have to research, plan and test ideas to see what works, what needs tweaking and what just doesn't fly at all. Our job is all about thinking up great ideas for pictures, then going out and creating them.

All photos:
Nikon D700, Nikkor 18-35mm AF-D, Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 ED, Lee 0.6 NDG, hand-held in natural light.