How to Take The Perfect Strava Photo


, by Howard Calvert

As well as providing a lasting memory, photos uploaded with your Strava activity also give your followers a meaningful representation of where you’ve been, what you’ve achieved and the effort you’ve put in.

But, let’s be honest, taking a photo mid-run or mid-ride is not always a straightforward proposition. You have to pick the right moment to stop, pull out your phone, line up the shot and snap away, sometimes while wearing gloves, making the whole endeavor cumbersome, inconvenient, and unappealing.

So it’s no surprise the results can be blurred, wobbly, misaligned, and, often, frankly undecipherable.

It doesn’t have to be this way. By using just a few simple pro tips, you could transform your activity shots into photos that make your followers stop scrolling through their feed in admiration — and we’re here to help, with advice from two photographers who make a living from snapping athletes in action.

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Below, British photojournalist David Miller and California-based sports photographer Cortney White help you upgrade your camera skills so you become the envy of your followers.

1. Use the light

“Light is your best friend when it comes to photography,” says Miller, who’s won awards for his photos of ultrarunners. “It can make the difference between a good photo and a great photo.”

A good place to start is by ensuring you time your activity to coincide with golden hour – that magical period of time runners and cyclists love, immediately following sunrise or prior to sunset.

“It creates beautiful contrasts of colors and light,” says Miller. “Lighting is important in photography as it determines not only brightness and darkness but also the mood, tone, and atmosphere of a photo.”

Photography by: John Garduno

2. Learn what your camera can do

Miller says that you don’t need a flashy, expensive camera to take photos that will generate comments from your followers.

“Start by taking some time to find out exactly what your phone’s camera is capable of. Analyse the Auto mode and see how it focuses and takes an exposure to light.”

This is normally done by touching the screen where you want the focus point to be. “Does the cameraphone have manual settings? If so, get to know them. These can help you take even better photos when you know how to use them.”

3. Take photos in bursts

A great benefit of smartphone photography is that you can snap as many photos as you like, quickly consigning the bad ones to the trash.

“As a sports photographer, I know it’s rare to get that ‘perfect’ photo of movement in just one shot,” says White.

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Her solution? Burst mode. “If you hold down the Capture button and slide left on your iPhone, it goes into Burst mode for as long as you hold the button. This allows you to assess multiple options when reviewing your images post-activity.”

She also recommends experimenting with Live mode: “It can provide more options when you’re choosing what to share.” To do this, click ‘edit’ on the image and scroll through the options along the bottom.

4. Use .5x

A mode that many smartphone users don’t use or even know about is .5x zoom. White recommends switching to this while taking part in activity.

“Shooting selfies or the trail/road/environment with .5 zoom can give an altered perspective and make the image feel more unique, which brings more to the photo,” she says.

Seek out the unusual composition

“This is the most important factor for me,” says Miller. “Next time you pull out your smartphone to take a photo of that amazing view during your run or ride, try putting your subject [runner/cyclist] in the bottom corner and using the landscape as a backdrop to spread across the rest of the photo. It’s a great way to demonstrate the scale of where you are.”

Experiment with ‘before and after’

A fun way to show how your run or ride went is a ‘before’ and ‘after’ shot, and for those who are selfie-averse, it doesn’t have to be a big picture of your face – it could be your surroundings immediately prior and post-activity, says White.

“Capturing the moments before and after you go on your activity — drinking coffee, sitting on the porch, stretching, who you're running with, etc — always adds a fun element to show what your activity entailed.”

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Edit your images like a pro

The final important step before uploading to Strava. Miller advocates fully utilizing your camera’s built-in editing tools, or apps such as Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, where you can crop, re-touch, and upload your photos in seconds.

White, meanwhile, is a big fan of the app VSCO. “It offers endless presets to put on your images and, if you find one you like, you can favorite it and go back and apply it to each image. It’s a quick and easy way to boost your image without having to know much about editing."

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