Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Pittsburgh Marathon

Paul Richard Wossidlo Photography: Pittsburgh Marathon &emdash; Sunday, May 4th, was the Pittsburgh Marathon. I was lucky enough to get a chance to photograph it this year.

For the last couple of years I've been working for a national company that photographs graduation and commencement ceremonies around the country. They have a sister division that covers major marathons and similar events. I was contacted mid-week because they needed additional photographers to help cover the Pittsburgh Marathon.  This is a huge production from the photography side.  They had a total of 37 photographers, and they expected to have over a quarter-million photos when we were finished.

My assignment was to photograph the runners after the race, in front of a Pittsburgh Marathon backdrop. There were ten of us assigned to do this, each with our own backdrop set up after the finish line. As the runners finished, we invited them to come over for an official portrait. Having 10 stations meant the runners shouldn't have to wait long. This type of assignment doesn't depend on a photographer's technical expertise. But it does depend on the photographer's ability to interact with their subject and get a great photo quickly. I found that a simple "How'd you do?" was a great way to start (they just finished a race, after all).

Things started rather slowly, but once more people started finishing, we got very busy, very quickly.  All 10 backdrops had multiple runners waiting to get their photo taken.  The most amazing moment for me: photographing a woman who was 5 months pregnant and still completed the race!   The weirdest/funniest moment was the two girls who came up for a photo together, and they couldn't decide which was their good side.   Really??? You just finished running 13  miles.   Your "good side" disappeared 10 miles ago!

Things were going smoothly for the first three hours, then the wind started to pick up, amplified by the concrete canyon we were in.  Our backdrops were attached to PVC frames, which were zip-tied to the temporary crowd-control fences that were set up.  The backdrops were like giant sails, and one by one they blew over, until only two of the original ten were still standing.

Thus ended my day photographing the Pittsburgh Marathon.  All in all, a great time, and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

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