Ten Tips for Great Running Selfies!

San Antonio’s Samantha Hopkins takes awesome running selfies. We asked for her advice.

I do not consider myself to be a “running selfie” expert but I most certainly fall into the “mother runner with a selfie hobby” category. I believe that if I don’t have a picture of it, it did not happen. Pictures constitute proof that goes beyond my Garmin data. I take photos on most of my runs and share them on STRAVA and Instagram.

Running in Watercolor, Florida, 2016. Phone is propped up on a park bench.

1. No sweaty hands! Wipe your hands off before grabbing your phone. This should have been obvious but I had to learn it the hard way last July. When running through Vicksburg National Military Park on vacation in Mississippi, my hand was too sweaty to firmly grasp my phone when I tried to pull it out of my flip belt. Down it went, cracking the screen. Lesson learned.

What turned out to be an expensive sweaty selfie at Vicksburg

2. Take LOTS of photos, especially when in motion. One of the ten I take might be in focus. On the other hand, blurry can give you the “artistic look” without having to apply a filter or edit the picture.

My son and I at Jon’s Run in May 2017. At first, I preferred the image on the right because we are both in better focus. I ended up posting the image on the left, though, because the picture just spoke to me. It reminds me that my focus can’t always be on myself (work, training, my to-do list). This stage in my son’s life is fleeting and I need to remember to focus on both of my little guys instead of letting distractions get in the way.
My Ironman cousin and I running in Central Park in 2015. I tilted the camera just a bit more in one of the two pictures I took and I was able to get a bit of sky. I find it hard to hold my phone and photograph horizontally when actually running, so 9 out of 10 of my pictures are vertical.

 3. Prop your phone up and use your self-timer.  Use your water bottle, park bench, or a fire hydrant to hold your phone. I set my self-timer for a ten second delay, then take a burst of ten pictures. With the delay, I can run out a bit to make it appear that I am running in the photo. I tell myself I’m running short intervals while my paparazzi (the phone and the fire hydrant) take my picture. With the burst of ten pictures, there is sure to be one semi-decent photo in the group.

These six were part of two different bursts. My phone was propped up on the fire hydrant (seen in the second picture, recreated). How did I select my favorite? Two things: one showing more of Pickles’ body instead of just his wiggly Boxer butt and one that showed a stronger leg position (preferably flying) on me.

4. Take a video of yourself, if you are self-conscious about running back and forth in front of your phone using your camera’s self-timer. In a video, you can freeze frame and screen shot. This works great for jumping shots but otherwise I think it is too much work to freeze frame videos. I like bursts more.

A freeze frame from a video of me jumping in San Diego, 2015.

5. Cut off your body or your head in the picture? Call it “artistic expression” and post away!

Seagrove, Florida, in July 2016.

6. Vary your background and angle. Do you hold the phone in your left hand and get a background of the street? Switch hands and get a background of flora and fauna or move your left arm to show the other side of you. Do you always hold the phone up over your head and show off your awesome AMR visor? Hold the phone lower and shoot an image from the knees down to get a better view of your new kicks.

For this image, I propped my phone against my water bottle. Rather than just shoes and grass, there is much more to see from this angle. San Diego, 2015.

7. Vary the running pictures that you post on social media. I got into a rut where I posted pictures of just my watch face, showing my completed run and average heart rate during training for the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon. I found them interesting; however, the repetitive pictures of just my watch face were boring.

At the end of a rainy long run in January 2017.
I have a hobby of finding change. I try to mix-up the pictures of the money I find.

8. Use a collage app to post multiple images. Sometimes I end up with more than one image from my run that I want to share on social media, so I use a collage app. Picframe, piccollage, and picmonkey are my favorites. These do a more efficient job in “telling the story” of my run rather than posting multiple pictures on IG that someone has to swipe through.

These images show a bit of the story of our BAMR meet-up run along the San Antonio River with AMR celebrity, Adrienne Martini, when she visited the Alamo City in February 2016.
Here I am at Girls on the Run with my adorable buddy in November 2016. Her goal was to run the 5K in under 30 minutes and I used pictures to get her to focus on fun instead of doubting herself when it got tough in the final mile. When I saw the bubbles being blown on to the course, I sprinted ahead of her and told her to pretend to “swim” through the bubbles. That was my favorite part of the race. She “faked it til she made it” and achieved her sub-30 minute PR!

9. Taking a running selfie during a non-goal race? Watch where the course photographers are. They just may get a shot of you looking less-than-your-best as you work to get your phone ready to take your own picture. I did not purchase this gem.

Austin Half-Marathon, 2017

10. Look to other runners for photographic inspiration. A few runner IG accounts I enjoy are seenonmytrail, kimfrick, fueledbyfrosting, cyndieruns, adventuringrunner, and carleemcdot. Overall, though: practice, practice, practice. I am still learning. Just like we do fartleks, tempo runs, and long slow runs to develop our running skills, give yourself time to develop your “running selfie” photography abilities, too.

All alone in the middle of the Arizona desert, running my first leg of the 2016 Ragnar Del Sol while wearing my favorite Badass Mother Runner visor.

 .2 Bonus. It is okay to enjoy your experience while training hard. Finding cool photo ops can help the miles fly by or make “embracing the suck” a little more bearable.

Follow my adventures as a Texas runner, boy mom, and middle school teacher on IG at s.hopkins.runs

Any other advice you’d care to add, BAMRs?

12 responses to “Ten Tips for Great Running Selfies!

  1. The important thing to running a tough first marathon is to keep in mind the 3 basic thing. Readiness, persistence and determination.So i can add another 1 more which is selfie. I think for a short distance of running, that would be okay to bring along your phone while running, but if want to concentrate on marathon, i think it is a bit uncomfortable to carry something on weight, by the way i am not trying the way you perform yet. Might be try it soon just for a short distance. Thanks again for the tips.

  2. Thanks for the article. I’m a newbie when it comes to anything “selfie”. I’ve always played “I-spy” while on my runs and try to catch a picture. STRAVA is much more interesting with a picture. This year my sister and I have a theme…public art. In training we typically run the same routes but a few times a month we make it a point to run somewhere for the sake of the sites we might see. And let’s not forget the travel run pictures! At the end of the year I’ll make it into a little photo book.

  3. Samantha- you are an inspiration to all who know you– as a runner, photographer, teacher, and mom. Fun to read this creative article!

  4. Great article Samantha! I am also a bit of a runfie addict. While I used to be very self-conscious about posting pictures because I was worried about comments from people judging me, as soon begin to realize that when I did post these pictures I was inspiring others to get out and get active. After a couple of private messages to me from friends who said exactly that I no longer felt self-conscious. Keep on keeping on girl.

  5. This is fantastic! I’ve been thinking a lot about how to up my “selfie game” lately, because I’m usually not comfortable with my “self” in selfies. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  6. I don’t take pictures during a race, but pretty much every other run gets a picture of me running past, jumping up or just a post run shot! I think it’s fun, and I like to see the surrounding of others on their runs too. A nice scenery shot just adds a special touch to a Strava post, am I right?! 🙂 I have a water belt that holds my phone, and I bought a little iPhone stand too, which I use to prop my phone up. I gave up on trying to steady the phone on my water bottle – the iPhone stand was super cheap off Ebay and works every time. I even bought a timer/camera/movement detector app to get some great motion shots. Yep, it becomes borderline obsessive!

  7. The pics of you and your lil run buddy in #8 struck a nerve and made me cry! What an amazing thing to be a part of – a young runner’s start! 🙂

  8. Being an “old” runner I just don’t understand this I guess. When I run, I run. When I race, I race. I don’t care about anything else but those things- running and racing-while I am doing them. Anymore it’s about telling everyone else about your running and racing and not actually about running and racing. My phone is a phone and it doesn’t come along with me at races or my workouts. I have mastered taking pictures of my husband while we ride mountain bikes though. It adds to the challenge- one handed “shooting” while going through sand and over boulders-well it works my core for sure.

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