Ian Corless Getting the Shot

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Ian Corless Getting the Shot

An Introduction to Ian Corless.

It would be impossible to introduce Ian Corless, and describe his passion for photography and his approach to getting the shot, as well as his involvement with ultra running better than Killian Jornet’s words in Corless’ book Running Beyond

To quote Jornet:

Ian Has been there to witness the stories. He knows the sport, he practices it and he has been involved involved in many different aspects of it, all of which provides him with a great overview. He has the strength and the character to work many hours, even practicing his own ultra with cameras in order to to capture the emotions and the passion from inside the sport. Ian’s photographs convey the passion of the sport, and the beauty of his images immerse you in the aura of each race. We are able to feel what the runners have felt, and it is the closest you will get without being there yourself.  – Killian Jornet

Running Beyond takes you on an epic visual journey.

Corless’ book Running Beyond, is jam packed with stunning mountain scenery and visceral emotions from runners as they experience the highs and the lows of running in these extreme environments. Corless manages to grab the reader and take them along on a journey to some of the most beautiful mountain and desert landscapes on earth. From the high mountains of the Himalayas, to the deserts of Africa. Ian’s book truly gives you a taste of what it might be like to run in these remote destinations.

Runner running through prayer flags on mountain.

How do you prepare to get ‘the’ shot?

I think one of the key elements of my photography works is that I never just stand on the trail and take photographs. I research races, I look at maps, decide on the best places to capture an image. Often, it can take me 2, 3, 4 or more hours to reach a location to get the best shots. One must commit to the shots and seek the best. I’m very demanding at a race and hard on myself to get the best I possibly can.

Runner runs through river while soaking wet.

I’d love to learn a little bit more about that process. How you’re not just a bystander, but an active participant.

I come from a racing background so I understand the dynamic of the action. The best and unique shots come when you work for them. Also, you get a shot that nobody else gets. You get out of a race what you put in. Like I said, research on the course. Try understanding the best places for images, and then commit to getting there. That may mean less shots in a race, but I go for quality over quantity.

Runner approaches cliff on mountain side.

What are some visual aesthetics you look for when creating an image at a race?

While the runner is important, often, the landscape is equally if not more important. When you combine a great runner with a great landscape, you have a winning combination. I often like to provide perspective, show how small the runner is within the place they are running. You also need blood, sweat and tears. For that, you need to get close.

Two runners race up mountain with sand dunes in background.

What advice would you give to a photographer who want’s to photograph these athletes and destinations?

Get out and shoot. Understand the sport, understand the dynamics, and research. You can start by doing any sporting event to initially master the skills required. It so much more than any one thing though.

All images by Ian Corless and used with permission.

To read more in our series of “getting the shot” visit Life Outside.


  1. Not only are you a great photographer and writer Ryan, you ask very pertinent questions in interview format.

    I find that you and Hailey incorporate so much of what Ian Corless shared about getting those unique shots. You find those best, unique places for amazing photographs. Sometimes the shots are combined with great landscapes, other times closeups to capture the human emotion of the event.

    Such a great article. I enjoyed reading this! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Wow! Thank you for the kind words Carl. Making that comparison, suggesting I might hold a light to Ian Cross really means a lot!

      I’m really glad that you enjoyed the article! ๐Ÿ™‚

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