Volunteer Profile: Photographer

It wouldn’t be a parkrun without the volunteers. In this series of blogs we’ll be learning more about the key volunteer roles and the people who fill them.

In this blog we learn about the role of Photographer from Whangarei parkrunner Jan Sherley.

One way to capture the magic of a parkrun is by the photos but it doesn’t matter what your experience, almost anyone can fulfil this role.

Jan Sherley has probably been photographer more than any other parkrunner in New Zealand with 185 occasions at the time of writing.

As partner to current Whangarei event director Ron Crowhurst she has been involved with the event since it started in 2016.

“Ron was asked by the founding event director, Jim Kettlewell, if he would help set the parkrun up. I said it was a brilliant idea. I used to do a lot of walking but now I have arthritis so I don’t do as much. I saw the benefits of it being free. I went down once or twice and Ron suggested I bring the camera down to see what photos I got.

“Ever since then I’ve been out of bed early on a Saturday morning.”

Jan and her camera

Jan says she likes to people-watch, catching people unawares.                                                 

“I look at people talking and expressing with their hands.”


So what skills does a photographer need to have?

“Firstly don’t worry about equipment. Some people get hung up about cameras not being good enough, or photos not coming out right but the more you practice the better they get.

“Don’t rush it. Look at the background and where you’re taking the photos – try not to get right in the face of runners.”

While it’s not compulsory, Jan has been on a photography course. She said the main thing she learned, which she applies to parkrun, is to break the image into thirds.

The rule of thirds is a type of composition in which an image is divided evenly into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and the subject of the image is placed at the intersection of those dividing lines, or along one of the lines itself.

Other things to consider are if someone makes it clear they don’t want their photo taken to abide by that wish. Some people will call out, but another accepted signal in parkrun is to cross your arms. This makes it easy to delete before uploading photos.


At the end of parkrun Jan will go home and transfer her photos to her computer. She says she never Photoshops but she will crop some images to make them look better, before uploading them to the Whangarei parkrun page.

Each album is named and dated with the event number and date of the parkrun to make it easy for people to look through.

“I’ve never had anything go terribly wrong, I stepped backwards into dog poo once, and a bird chased me when I got too close to its nesting site b one of the wharves.”

Jan has got to know local parkrunners and has met visitors who have told her it was the photos from the parkrun that spurred them on to visit.

“Being photographer is not a scary thing!” 

To volunteer at your parkrun send them an email with what position you’d like to do and when, comment on the volunteer appeal on facebook, or chat to the event team when you’re at parkrun.

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