I had to write a catchy headline to get folks onto my blog. After all, sex does sell.
This past weekend the local chapter of Muds to Suds held their 3rd annual Muds to Suds Race at Hovander Park in Ferndale, Wash. Almost 2000 people participated in the fund-raiser. This year, the recipient was the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. It was an assignment for The Bellingham Herald.
Slated as “Whatcom County’s Most Fun Mud Run,” just observing and documenting it made me chuckle. It was an awesome event to cover.
For large events like this, I like to do some research. I focus on the course and what other elements are planned. There was to be a food court area, a kids mud pit, and a bouncy castle.
One of the things I paid particular attention to was the course map. I needed to find know where the good obstacles were so I can capture the best images. Certain ones were boring, others hinted of great photo opportunities.
Many of the racers were there for fun. Dressed in some form of costume or outfit. There was multiple Wonder Women, The Flash, a drove of pigs, men and women in tutus, and even one dressed as the Heinz Ketchup bottle.
And as per my modus operandi, I follow the old axiom: Arrive Early, Stay late. This gives me time to survey the scene, find out who’s in charge so I can ask questions, and a time to decompress a little so I can put my game face on.
Crown of Foam:
I talked with asst. race coordinator Sara Buchanan about the course, how many participants, who is the recipient of the raised funds, average time to complete the course, and any other questions that arose.
As the racers were started every 20 minutes, I had a chance to get different starts. But those tended to be boring so I walked the course backwards. This allowed me time to find an obstacle that would get me good visuals. Plus, with starts every 20 minutes, I didn’t have to wait long to photograph a group of competitors splashing in the mud.
It took photographing one group of people for me to realized the toughest part of this job will be to get names. As I shot the participants, they would run past me on their way towards the finish line.
As these were for publication, I needed to get names. You can publish photos of people without using their names, papers do it all the time. However, I believe it’s not only ethical, but just plain polite to get names. After all, if you saw your photo in the newspaper and your name was missing, wouldn’t you be a little upset?
So I’d photograph a few people then chase them down, write a quick description of what they were wearing, and then their name. For multiple people, I’d line them up in the order I wrote the names.
That’s the beauty of digital: you can shoot a quick photo of them to make sure you can correlate the name with the correct people. No ambiguity.
Not only that, you can quickly preview what you shot to see if you even want to use the photo. It sorta goes against what I believe in not editing in camera nor during a shoot. But in circumstances such as this, it’s almost a necessity.
Leader of the Pack:
Unfortunately, upon editing the photos, there’s always a few that you missed. Those can be reserved for the online use in slide shows with creative captions.
With so much going on, it’s best to focus on only one aspect. Concentrate on just one obstacle. Another reason it’s important to arrive early to an event. Get your bearings and make a plan. If you go in blind, you will shoot haphazardly and will end up missing some great shots.
End of the Line:
What are some of you tricks or techniques you do to make shooting an event easy? Do you pre plan? Or wing it when the time arrives?
Resolution of Endurance:
For more Muds to Suds photos, visit my gallery 3rd annual Muds to Suds
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Paul “pablo” Conrad
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Paul Conrad is an award-winning, nationally published freelance photographer living in Bellingham, Wash., in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazine throughout the United States and in Europe.
His specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings. He is available for short-term and long-term assignments.