The Color Run is a 5 km fun race, where the participants (and photographers) get sprinkled with a different color powder after each kilometer before ending at a giant party. The race is neither timed, nor do participants actually need to run. Everyone is free to walk, crawl, jump, etc. The aim of the Color Run is to promote health and fitness in a colorful way.
Since I fully support ideas that get people out of their houses and up on their legs, I had a closer look at this year’s Color Run in Paris (April 16, 2017), specifically at the pink color zone. Here is what I learned while looking at “the happiest 5K on the planet” through my camera lens.
Wrap your cam
Sure, it is fun to be enveloped in 💙, 💚, 💛 and 💗 powder clouds while seeing bright smiles on all the faces around you. But if you don’t protect your camera, you will quickly turn from 😊 to 😢.
To prevent any gear damage, you actually don’t need any expensive equipment or camera cases. A couple of ziplock bags and tape will do. I ended up following more or less the instructions given in this video to wrap my Canon 60D and my 18-250 mm lens in a freezer bag, sealing it off with some gaffer tape.
While wrapping, keep in mind that you still need to be able to control your camera, including the change of settings and zooming in and out. You also want to keep your viewfinder and preview screen free for a quick photo check during the race. That being said, it will be easier to do all of this if you use a “plastic tunnel” in which you can also wrap your hands rather than choosing a plastic bag which is closed on one end.
To complete your protection, get yourself a cheap filter that you can place on your lens and use your lens hood.
It goes without saying that a waterproof case would be the best protection for your DSLR. I only have a waterproof case for my GoPro. So this one was my camera of choice when photographing among the runners and volunteers who threw the color in the air.
Now that you got your cam in the clear, protect yourself and your clothes. For obvious reasons, dress in an outfit that can get stained 👕. While the color thrown on runners is usually not hard to remove, I personally wouldn’t risk to ruin my latest shopping treasures 👗.
And if you plan to photograph the complete race in one of the color zones, right beside the volunteers throwing the color, consider wearing a face mask over nose and mouth to avoid breathing in too much of the colored powder over a longer time 😷.
Planning ahead and wrapping up
The participants of the Color Run will start the race without color. Forget the starting location for fun photos.
The first color zone is set up after kilometer 1. The second after kilometer 2, and so on. On the official Color Run website you can probably find details and a map to know in advance were the course leads and color zones are set up.
The finisher zone is for participants only. So if you really wanted to photograph there, you would need to buy a race ticket and run, walk, jump there.
I recommend the 4th color zone though. You should have easier access as photographer and the participants will have been sprinkled in at least 3 colors already. Since it’s no professional race, many participants are actually no longer running at this point, but they will stop to take selfies 🤳 or ask photographers nearby to take their group photo 📷. This happened to me several times, even though I wasn’t an official race photographer.
Normally I would also recommend to get in touch with the Color Run team on Social Media, but I was disappointed by the answer of the team behind the French account as they couldn’t give me good advice with regards to photo locations in Paris. Feel free to try anyway. You might get more lucky 🍀.
Once you got all the colorful shots you wanted, start spreading your images on Social Media immediately and over a course of 2 or 3 days after. Anything lasting longer will stay unnoticed. For a chance to get some extra exposure on the official Color Run accounts tag your content with #colorrun #colorrun[cityname] #colorrun[year] #happiest5k.
And now it’s time for some photos and a short video of my first Color Run 💗
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