Adam Chase, trail editor for Running Times and author of The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running, posted an intriguing question on Facebook:
Assuming a stunning background in both shots, which trail running image resonates with you more: (a) athlete looking determined and working hard; or (b) athlete jumping in the air with arms waving and tongue stuck out of mouth?
The vast majority of my Facebook friends are runners; most of which post running-related pictures. Adam’s question led me to ponder the wide variety of pictures my friends post. Many post a wide variety of pictures, but a few are “one-trick ponies.” You don’t want an entire album of this crap:
For those latter folks, here’s a handy guide to help you add a little variety to your photo albums. Note- this only pertains to shots of people. Landscapes , pictures of wildlife (or pets), and other random crap aren’t calculated in these estimates.
Types of Pictures and Appropriate Usage
- Serious action shots (20%) These shots consist of a runner wearing their “game face” while actually running. This is the typical candid race shot. Too many of these shots gives the impression that you’re too serious OR you want to give the impression that you’re a lot tougher than you really are.
- Serious poses (15%) This is a posed shot usually done in conjunction with a cool background. The use of the “game face” gives the impression of stoicism and would be appropriate for something like the Auschwitz Marathon. Too many of these poses makes you appear like a stick in the mud.
- Fun poses (20%) These are goofy poses like Adam’s “jumping with arms in the air and sticking tongue out” example. Running is usually a fun activity and best approached with light-heartedness. This pose shows you don’t take yourself too seriously. Too many of these shots implies you’re trying to give the impression that you’re a free spirit. In reality you’re probably just an attention whore.
- Death warmed over shots (15%) Examples of these shots include hands-on-knees trying to catch your breath, seated at an aid station in obvious agony, or curled up in the fetal position. These are the pictures that elicit a “Ha, ha you dumb shit!” response in others. Personally I love these shots… but it is possible to overdo it. Too many of these shots usually means you’re not running correctly. I recommend learning better runnng form or stop making stupid mistakes by experimenting more often. Yes, that was a shameless plug.
- Injures (5%) This usually includes closeups of the previous category, and I like them for the same reason. Blisters, missing toenails, severe road rash, black eyes, bloody scalps, puss-oozing cuts, compound fractures… whatever. It’s all good. The exception- be judicious with rashes.
- Vomit/urinating/deuce-dropping (5%) This is a bit controversial, but these shots add a great deal of variety. They capture some of the most taboo elements of running, which is why they generate interest. It’s best to take a “Hitchcock’s Psycho” approach and use camera angles that imply action. We don’t actually need to see the log being pinched off.
- Extreme closeups (5%) This could include facial pics (pics of the face, not necessarily bukkake pics), body part pics, or gear pics. For these pictures, it’s handy to understand aperture and depth of field on cameras. Running is inherently more of a “big picture” activity, so use these shots judiciously.
- Extreme wide shots (10%) These shots are great to capture majestic landscapes while still capturing the runner. When using these shots, make sure you understand the rule of thirds.
- Headless or faceless shots (1%) This also includes pictures where your face is perpetually obscured with hair, bandanas, sunglasses, or other props. These pictures can be occasionally included for comedic or artistic value or to add some interest to an album. However, if you have more than one or two of these shots, it’s obvious you’re trying to hide a butterface.
- Holding the camera over your head shot (1%) This shot rivals the duck face as the dumbest pose in existence. It can be used on occasion, especially if it’s difficult to capture the subject matter with another angle. If you have more than one or two in an album, it’s usually a good indicator you’re trying to hide a bodily flaw that causes a great deal of self-consciousness.
- Everything else (3%) Some stuff doesn’t fit in any of these categories, so use your own discretion.
Two additional notes- First, it’s good to follow a 50/50 rule for posting pictures. Make sure about half of your pictures includes someone else. If your albums include nothing but pictures of yourself, it gives the distinct impressions that you’re a narcissistic tool. This rule applies even if you think you’re hot.
Second, more skin almost always trumps less skin. That doesn’t require further explanation.
There you go- a simple, easy-to-follow guide to producing interesting, well-balanced photo albums for social media.
Anyone have anything to add? Post it as a comment!