After shooting the Chilmark 5K at the weekend – a very busy 5K on narrow roads – amongst the photo orders that arrive are a couple of emails, and this is typical, where runners are looking for photographs of themselves, but there are none.
Shooting a 5K with 1500 runners is quite a challenge, especially on narrow roads because at mid-pack we may go up to 80 to 100 runners per minute (or more). To improve our efficiency, I shoot runners from the left side of the road to the center, and the other shooter (the very experienced Scott Mason) shoot from the right-hand side of the road to the center of the road. Together, I estimate we shoot about 95% of all participants. In a small busy race with two photographers it is impossible to shoot 100% and this I explain to those searching for their photographs:
- At mid-pack, some runners are tucked in so tightly that we cannot shoot them.
- Some runners stick their hand’s inches in front of the camera lens to wave, but all they succeed in doing is blocking the runners behind them; and, by the time we can refocus the camera we have lost a small group of runners.
- In every race at some point, a spectator will simply walk in front of the camera to either high five a friend or in the case of this photo to take a snap of their friends with their cell phone (blocking a group of runners).
- Sometimes, we simply miss a runner – we do not shoot groups, we try to shoot individuals with a shallow depth-of-field, which is much, much, harder, especially at mid-pack.
- And, sometimes, yes sometimes, we get our focus point wrong and blur a shot.
So, when I am asked the question ‘did you take my photograph?’, I double check the catalog and then explain what I have written above.
This is not an excuse; it is simply life. :)