Sports Photography – The Color Run 2015 – Racine, WI
Today I was contracted to shoot The Color Run held at Pershing Park in Racine, Wisconsin for Flo-Foto. The event had over 4500 participants. The images in this post are used with permission.
I shot for this outfit once last year, for The Color Run Milwaukee, which was held at Miller Park. At that event I was hired to be a studio photographer, which meant shooting posed candids all day long. A grueling job.
Fortunately this time I was brought in to shoot the course. I also got an opportunity to shoot post-race candids of the event, which was a blast.
The day started with a meeting of the photographers to get our cards and assignments, then a long hike to my station. The day was bright and sunny, but for the most part cool. My station was the second on the race, about half-way through the course, which I shot with another photographer. The race started at 9am and by 10:30 the last of the runners were beginning to pass us.
For those unfamiliar with the nature of this race, the runners will pass a series of “Color stations” which are effectively gauntlets they run through as volunteers toss, spray, or throw colored dye, which is made of pigment and cornstarch. Each station has a different color, culminating at the finish line where runners are handed packets of color to continue to throw at each other. As you can tell by the photos, my station’s color was blue.
I have to say, for an event that claims to be the Happiest 5K in the world, I saw a lot of miserable looking people. Must have been the running part. Little kids in strollers really don’t seem to like being suddenly assaulted with color. The bigger kids loved it, however, many stopping to roll in the dust that covered the street.
The wind was light and steady from the North, fortunately for me, and unfortunately for the volunteers on the leeward side of the road. As the color was thrown, great clouds of blue fog wafted across the street, and those volunteers were completely be-smurfed by the end of the day. At least they had facemasks and goggles.
In terms of photography, the challenge was getting a decent angle at the right time. Almost everyone got through the color station, only to look down at the end, or just stop and turn to wait for their friends. What that meant was that they blocked many good shots of the people behind them. If we shot too early into the color station, it was less exciting, as there was less color being thrown.
So I spent the day constantly moving and shooting hand-held, often dropping to a knee to get a good angle on the runners, particularly the kids on the course, then quickly standing up and moving back to avoid being trampled. We shot with rain covers on the cameras, to protect from the pigment dust. It was still a constant battle to keep the front element of our lenses clear.
Once the last runners passed, we made our way quickly back to the finish line, to find crowds of people standing in line to get their pictures taken, in other lines waiting to buy stuff, or get the dust blown off of them by people wearing backpack-mounted leaf blowers, or standing by the stage where they had a DJ throwing packets of color into the crowd, which was released in sync with the music.
I made my way up to the stage, shooting the crowd. There had to be several hundred people there, going crazy. I shot right from the stage, from in front of the stage, and around the edges of the crowd. Most of these shots were taken with my 70-200 still attached. I did switch later to my 11-16mm lens to get a wider view.