Five ways to make your Instragram photos of your runs better

Do you have a friend that is not capable of going for a run (or doing yoga outside, or biking 20 miles, or anything) unless they then document it on social media?

I have one friend who I make fun of for his frequent posts: One where he leaned his bike up against a tree and took a hipster-artsy photo of it; one where he used an app to snap a photo as he launched a soccer ball into the net, and so, so many sweaty selfies at mile four or at the summit of an epic climb. But I’ll be honest – the photos are usually pretty cool, and it’s great to see him able to get out and be so active. It’s just that when my facebook feed contains four “Look what I did” posts from four different friends, it makes me wonder if we’re a little too in love with how awesome we are.

Said friend, Will Cortez, takes photos because he knows they have the power to inspire others to go for a ride or run. “I want my photos to tell a story but still leave a lot to the imagination. The photos I love from others make me wanna go out and ride/run.” Will’s fiance is an amazing photographer as well, so I imagine she’s given him some good tips, too.

It goes beyond Runfies, too. (Runfies = runner selfies.) I’m sure you have at least one friend who does something like this: posting a photo of a half-drunk pint of beer with the caption, “Earned this after my 7-mile trail run!” Or their artfully displayed journal, the classic novel they’re reading, and their sunglasses on a blanket with the caption, “Took a little me-time for some light reading.”

Posts like these are a way of validating your activities, presenting them in a curated vignette along with a witty note to set the tone, which can actually be pretty artistic. A selfie at Silver Falls State Park, a photo of your marathon flat runner the night before the race, or those muddy shoes at the trailhead can be great photos, as long as you realize that posting them without the right caption can quickly turn you into a [insert your favorite 7th grade derogatory name here]. So, here are ten ways to make your Instagram photos a little less … douchebag.

Caption well: Learn the art of sarcasm and how the interwebs effects it.
A good caption can save you from being “that guy.” I have two friends who win at facebook: David Martin and Colleen Wedin, because they know how to weave together sarcasm, puns, and actual information. Their posts frequently make people LOL without coming across as comment-baiting, such as the friend who will frequently check in at places like Emergency Rooms, police stations, and tattoo parlors just to see how many people will freak out and demand more information (vague booking is the term for this, Geli Heidelberger tells me). This brings me to the next tip:

Details: provide them.
If you’re taking a photo somewhere interesting enough to serve as a backdrop, or to illustrate an event important enough to document, explain. Some examples: “My brother and me at the top of Multnomah Falls,” or “Just finished my 50th half marathon so I’m getting the biggest, messiest burger I could find.” This will also serve as a good reminder to you down the road,  if you post hundreds of these. While your closest friends probably won’t have to ask which marathon you just finished (because they’ll already know), those you haven’t seen in a while might be curious because they’re considering running a marathon. Will says, “I try to keep my descriptions/captions short and sweet so as not to take away from the photo. But I hashtag the hell out of the pics. Because you can have a lot of fun there.”

If you’re going to be artsy, at least set the scene.
A picture is worth a thousand words and all that – so choose your words carefully. Do you want to say, “I just ran to Pittock Mansion and there’s also a really pasty guy here walking around without a shirt” or “I ran to Pittock Mansion, where everything is amazing.” Right. So wait until Mr. Pasty moves out of the frame. Other hints: Remove your underwear, toothpaste, and earplugs from the hotel bed before you take the flat runner photo. And before snapping a picture of your feet up on the coffee table next to a nice glass of red wine, turn off Jerry Springer and move that plate of half-eaten nachos your spouse left.

There are apps for that.
You can set the scene and provide those details with some cool apps. FitSnap is one that will layer your distance, time and pace, along with a short comment, on your photo, and has a few filters to get creative. There’s one called Afterlight which has a zillion photo filters, if scenic vistas are your thing. That friend I mentioned earlier? Will uses OVER to add text & shapes to his pics, VSCOcam for image editing, UNION to blend photos, and Diptic to make collages. He does “set the scene,” using the rule of thirds when framing the photo, and he isn’t shy to delete a photo that he thinks isn’t accurately capturing what he sees. Oh, and the cool soccer shot? He used adidas Snapshot for that one.

Unless your food LOOKS as good as it TASTES, don’t take a picture of it.
Exceptions to this tip include documentation of fingers in your salad. For insurance purposes, you know.

So there you go! Keep snapping the pics, be sure to tag the location and, if relevant, the event; and start inspiring others … and yourself!




About Author

We started the Run Oregon blog in February 2007, because felt like running in Oregon and SW Washington deserved more positive coverage. We also wanted to level the playing field so that small, non-profit races could compete with big events; and to support local race organizers.

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