Look the other way

It was city marathon time in Manchester last weekend, and the route passes through my town so, for the third year, I went down to take some photographs.

It’s tempting at these events to concentrate on the runners; there’s a lot of drama there—not so much with the professionals as with the greater mass of people who are running for personal reasons: to raise money for a favoured charity or to beat a personal best.

What tends to be forgotten at events like this, though, is that there are two participants: the competitors and the audience. It’s worthwhile at some point turning away from the action and looking to the crowd.

The thing is that you’re standing at the side of the road, facing the runners coming toward you, but so are all the other spectators, so all you see are the backs of their heads. Turn around, ignore the runners, and see what the spectators are actually doing.

People’s reactions to what’s happening in front of them can be as interesting as the main event. Marathon audiences have a high proportion of spectators with a direct interest in the form of a friend or family member running, so there are very personal reactions to look for.

Here’s a gallery of those people: I took plenty of the runners and the organised entertainment (and maybe I’ll post them at a later date), but here are the other people involved in this event.

So whatever you are photographing, take time to turn around and look the other way. You never know what you may see.