How Do Runners Take Pictures of Themselves?

You belong to several running groups on social media. Runner after runner posts photos of themselves on the move. You’d like to take such photos yourself, but you have no idea how. How do runners take pictures of themselves?

Here’s how to take a picture of yourself while running:

  • Use a tripod or position your phone on a stable surface
  • Set the camera timer to 10 seconds
  • Run past your camera when the timer goes off
  • Retake as many times as necessary
  • Edit your photos
  • Post!

This article will be chock full of tips, advice, and pointers for taking your best running photos yet, so make sure you keep reading! 

6 Steps for Taking Pictures of Yourself When Running

Per the intro, let’s elaborate further on the 6 steps you can follow today to take awesome running photos that will inspire your friends! 

Step 1: Set up Your Phone

If you’re going to take running photos often enough, then it’s worth investing in some equipment. We recommend a flexible, lightweight smartphone tripod that you can carry with you in your backpack.

A GoPro or a similar action camera is also good to have, especially if you want to get into unique angles. We’ll talk more about photo angles a little later in this article, so you’ll certainly want to check that out.

The most important piece of equipment you need is your smartphone. You can use your phone on its own to take photos, but that will depend on where you’re running. For example, if you’re surrounded by rock walls, then one of the walls likely juts out enough for your phone to sit on like a ledge.

In a park, you can position your smartphone against a tree, but a tripod will come in handy here. The tripod will elevate your phone so half your photo isn’t of the ground.

Step 2: Turn the Camera Timer on 

Once you’ve got your phone in an ideal position, go into the camera mode and activate the timer. Many smartphones let you choose between three-second or 10-second timers. You want the latter, as three seconds is too few to get the shot you’re after.

Step 3: Get into Position and Run

When the timer is activated, the clock is literally ticking. You have seconds to get into position and run by your phone. Once the 10 seconds are up, the phone will snap photos of you. 

Step 4: Retake Photos 

If this is your first time taking photos of yourself when running, there will be plenty of trial and error. You need to time yourself so you run by exactly when the camera goes off. If you’re too fast or too slow, the camera will only shoot the background, not you.

You might usually be speedy on the running trail, but you don’t want to rush by too quickly when your phone’s photo timer goes off. The photo will come out blurry. 

Instead, you want to run at a relaxed pace. Maybe you do a few laps before you take the photo so you’re sweaty and you look like you’ve been running hard. 

Step 5: Edit Your Photos

Put your phone away for now and complete your run. When you’re home, it’s time to go through your photos. Discard the ones you don’t like. 

Hopefully, there are a couple of good ones in there. If you like your photos as-is, that’s great! For many people though, they’ll want to edit their photos.

You have no shortage of photo-editing tools and apps to choose from, some of which are free and others that aren’t. Edit your photos the way you usually do. 

Step 6: Post and Wait for the Likes to Come in 

Now you’re ready to finally post your running photo! The likes and comments will soon follow. 

Using Video to Take Running Photos – A Good Idea?

If you’re frustrated with the above method, it’s not your only option. You can also use your GoPro or your smartphone to take a video that becomes photos. 

Once again, begin by selecting an ideal spot for your camera, one that’s unobstructed and at a good height and angle. 

Before you click the button to start a video, please double-check that your phone is set to selfie mode. If it isn’t, then you’ll capture whatever is closest to you, such as a rock or a hill. 

We recommend recording a video, doing one run-through, and then stopping the video and watching it back. Is your head out of the frame or is your phone too low? Make a few adjustments and then record another video.

The benefit of recording a video instead of taking a 10-second timed photo is that you have a lot more time to work with. You can record yourself running a dozen times down the same trail if you wanted to. 

Okay, but how do you take a video and make it into a photo? You’ll need a screenshotting app. The app will divide your video clip into frame-by-frame increments. You select the perfect frame, save it to your phone as a photo, and then you can edit and post like normal. 

The Best Angles for Taking Photos of Yourself Running

As we’ve alluded to, your angle is everything when taking photos.  Here are five angles to master if you want to start posting photos of yourself running. 


Listen, there’s nothing wrong with admitting you’re the one taking all the photos of yourself running. You don’t always have to hide that fact, either. A GoPro or a selfie stick allows you to hold your smartphone from a distance so you can take full-body (or almost full-body) shots of yourself during and after a run. 

This is the easiest angle to master. Lift your phone or GoPro high to get more of yourself in the shot. That’s especially important if you’re taking a selfie with a couple of running buddies! 

Background as Foreground

We talked earlier about the risk of putting your phone too close to the ground when taking photos of yourself running. Dirt or blades of grass can get in the way.  

In some instances, you don’t mind a background object acting as a foreground subject, such as small flowers. The inclusion of the background as the foreground is a great way to showcase the beauty of wherever you’re running.

If this is how you want to take photos today, then the way you position your smartphone is very important. You want the background objects to only be in a portion of your photo, such as the bottom quarter of the image or one corner. 

Upward Angle

This is probably the angle that inspired you to start taking photos of yourself when running. All your running buddies have mastered the upward angle, and now you want to as well.

The upward angle is great for showcasing your strong legs (if you’re running in shorts) and the gracefulness of your stride. Plus, you get a chance to display the beauty of the sky, be that on a picturesque early morning run or even the clear blue of a mid-afternoon sky.

Take your water bottle out of your backpack or side pocket and put it on the ground. Prop your smartphone up against the bottle, angling its lens so that from the direction you’re running, the lens is perpendicular. 

Experiment a bit with how upward you want the angle to be. Depending on how you set up your phone, you can capture yourself running from a side view or upward. The former isn’t bad, per se, but it’s not exactly what you want, either. 

Overhead Angle

Maybe you’d like to take a photo of yourself running but from overhead, almost like a drone is shooting it. Although this type of shot seems impossible to achieve on your own, it’s anything but. 

You’ll need a flexible tripod as well as a sturdy tree branch. Take your phone, affix it to the tripod, and then wrap the flexible tripod legs around the branch. We can’t stress enough that the branch must be sturdy or the extra weight could cause it to snap.

Then take a video on your phone or GoPro of you running down the trail several times. Use your favorite screenshotting app to produce frames and select the best frames.   

Jumping Angle 

What about those images where it seems like a runner is jumping and the camera captures them at just the right moment? This is yet another photo angle that doesn’t require someone else to achieve, even though it looks like it does.

Put your smartphone or GoPro on the ground so the lens is facing up. Begin recording a video. You can either jump over your phone or take a long stride. Either way, due to the angle of the photo, you’ll look like you’re jumping! 

Improve Your Photo Game – 5 Tips for Better Running Photos 

You’ve started taking some photos of yourself running that you’re quite pleased with. Don’t stop now! Check out these tips for mastering running photos and becoming the envy of all your friends on social media.

Vary Your Angles and Routes

The same angle repeatedly is boring and won’t attract attention to your timeline. If you mostly take selfies, then try something artistic like an overhead or downward angle. If you do those artistic photos a lot, then relax from all the angles with some selfies. 

Don’t only take photos of you on the running trail, either. Perhaps you post a photo of you at the sign displaying the name of your park.

Maybe you feel like you’ve used every interesting angle at your local park. In that case, then change up where you run. Your muscles will work harder since they’re no longer used to the trail. You might get a better workout in addition to better photos! 

It’s Okay to Smile 

Taking photos of yourself when running is the perfect mix of casual and pre-planned. You might try to maintain a neutral facial expression to make your photos look more natural. That’s okay sometimes, but don’t forget to smile too!

After all, running is something you love doing, and you want to show the world that you’re enjoying yourself every time you lace up your running shoes. A big grin will achieve that objective. 

Protect Your Phone 

Okay, this tip doesn’t pertain to taking better photos, at least not directly. However, if your phone is broken, you can’t take photos of yourself during your runs anymore (or any other time).

Since your phone will spend lots of time suspended from a tree, leaning against a rock, or even on the ground, if you don’t already have a phone case, you certainly need one. You should also buy a screen protector.

Make sure you’re smart about where you place your phone when taking running photos. You can get so wrapped up in what you’re doing that you forget your phone is out in the open and unaccounted for. 

An unscrupulous individual could easily swipe your phone or GoPro, so keep an eye on your pricy equipment. 

Bring a Buddy

What’s better than taking running photos alone? Doing it with a friend!

Having a buddy with you is beneficial in several ways. They can take pictures for you (and vice-versa), so there’s no more need to time your shots, record a video, or put your phone in a tree. You can also include your friend in your photos, which changes up your content feed. 

Have Fun

Remember that above all else, taking photos of yourself when running is supposed to be fun. Once it feels like an obligation, you might want to take a little break until you can get back to enjoying it again. 

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been mystified about how runners take photos of themselves that aren’t selfies, we’ve now revealed all the best secrets. It’s all about having the right equipment, angles, and apps to take tremendous, professional-looking photos. Have fun out there! 

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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