A Picture Is Worth 26.2 Miles

In this Nov. 5, 2017 photo, a man captures pictures of marathoners as they run down the street. (Photo by: Tamsen Maloy)

When you finish a 26.2-mile marathon, you want to make sure your triumph is well documented.

MarathonFoto, a race photography agency, assembled a new set of professional photographers this year in preparation for the 2017 New York City Marathon. The agency has been on the front lines since 2013 as the official photographers of the marathon, taking commemorative photos for the runners. They also run an online database for runners to search for their photographs.

According to Jennifer Fitzgerald, Director of Consumer Marketing at Iconic Group, MarathonFoto’s owners, the photo organization was first set to photograph the marathon in 2012, but the race was canceled in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Evita Danzer, manager of recruiting at Iconic Group, said that MarathonFoto disperses its photographers along the race course every year, each with a strategic position, including mile markers, well-known New York City locations, the finish line and the ceremony podium where medals are given to the race winners. The newer photographers are directed by “team captains” who have worked a number of years for the company to ensure each race is captured smoothly.

Danzer said photographers are chosen based on multiple criteria. These include knowledge of a camera, photography background and training, and an understanding of the race job requirements — “standing for eight hours out of the day,” he said.

Different from MarathonFoto, various news and photo agencies take photos of the marathon, providing their subscribers a real-time photographic feed of the event.

Mike Segar, a Reuters senior staff photographer, has covered the NYC Marathon for more than two decades for the agency. “I have been covering NY Marathon many times since 1995,” he said. “During the marathon, we normally attempt to paint an overall picture of the event.”

Reuters recruits a group of highly skilled photographers for the marathon since it’s such a large event.

“In the early morning, we do features of the people getting ready by the start line to reflect the crowd and their excitement,” he said. “During the middle of the race, we focus on getting powerful shots of runners crossing the bridge because the visual richness of the runners and the bridge.”

Capturing dramatic and real time candid moments of the runners making it to the finish line is the highest priority of the entire event. “What we really focus and prioritize is the finish line,” Segar said. “We always plan to have a small group of photographers whose priority is to make sure we have strong, dramatic images that signify the final moments of the race.”

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