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Creators in Running: Lea Kurth

Creators in Running: Lea Kurth

We had the chance to chat with Bern-based Lea Kurth, who has only been in the running business for what feels like 5 minutes, but in this short time she has already made a significant contribution to the media success of OAC Europe and left her mark on the running scene in Europe.

Words: Sven Rudolph
Photos: Lea Kurth

Editor's note: In our latest “Creators in Running” series, we spotlight the stories and creativity of talented people who are capturing the essence of running and helping to transform the sport. The series aims to showcase the intersection of art and the running community, as well as inspire and help new content creators get out there.

Lea's journey into the world of photography and videography was a happy one. Initially embarking on a career in the social sciences, she quickly realised that her heart lay in a more creative pursuit. Lea shares, "I've always been creative, painting a lot and doing lots of crafting," recounting her transition to multimedia production. This change wasn't just a shift in study; it was a leap towards her true passion. An internship at a production company in Berlin sparked her passion for the industry, inspiring her to create her own content and explore the world through her camera.

For Lea, photography is not just about capturing images, but also about embracing challenges and learning from each experience. She reflects on her rapid growth in the field, saying, 'The more you do it, the better you get at it.' Her adventurous spirit and willingness to say yes to new opportunities, and even when uncertain, have paved the way for her career. This bold approach has not only improved her skills, but also opened doors.

más: When did your journey as a photographer start and how has your style evolved over the years?

Lea: I began my studies in social science but I really didn't like it. I knew I wanted to continue studying and I've always been creative. So I searched for something in this field and discovered a course called multimedia production, which covers film, photography, and marketing. To study this, I needed to complete an internship and during my internship in a production in Berlin I knew that it was the right thing to do. This positive feedback encouraged me to continue pursuing photography. In 2021, I purchased my first camera and began taking photos. I also participated in a training session with my boyfriend, where I took some photos and edited them. And then the team was like, "Oh, this looks actually nice." And I was like, "Oh, yeah? I actually like it too.“ That's how it continued.

Since then, my photography has become bolder. By focusing on the story of the athletes, I have a lot of freedom to try things out. I experiment more with perspective, lighting and capturing moments that are not immediately obvious. It has given me a lot of confidence.

The Art of Movement in Running Photography

This is one of my favourite photos because it captures the movement and the feeling of being in the middle of a training session. Even though it's a picture, I want to convey the feeling of movement and I don't always think that everything has to be perfectly recognisable to get an interesting result. It's about capturing the moment. This photo not only tested my self-criticism, but also taught me to appreciate my skills.

What challenges have you faced in your photography career, and how have you overcome them?

The biggest challenge is the learning curve and embracing the unknown. I always say yes to opportunities, even if I'm not entirely sure of the outcome. This approach has helped me grow quickly in the industry. It's about being brave, trying new things and learning from every shot. I think I still have a lot to learn, but the learning curve is really fast. Because the more you do it, the better you get at it. And I think that makes photography really special and accessible to people.

I’ve learned that the best thing to do is to shoot as much as you can and take every opportunity that comes your way. Not to be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. It's also important to network and share your work to get exposure.

Exploring New Perspectives at the New York City Marathon

Capturing the New York Marathon was a unique and thrilling experience for me. It was my first time photographing such a major race and really feeling the collective excitement around running. This event, the energy and enthusiasm, offered a fresh perspective and challenged me to experiment with new angles and editing techniques. The vivid atmosphere of the city motivated me to explore beyond my typical style.

In your unique position as a photographer closely working with athletes, how do you navigate the dynamics of being the sole creative in the mix?

I feel comfortable both alone and in social situations, and I can adapt easily to new people and environments. My work with athletes goes beyond professional boundaries and often develops into friendships, especially as I spend significant time with them, for example the team of OAC Europe.

This combination of trust and closeness creates a relaxed atmosphere that is essential for authentic photography, as athletes are more comfortable in front of the camera. Developing trusting relationships enhances the quality of my work and allows me to capture real behind-the-scenes moments and the true essence of their dedication and training.

Spotlight Moment: Appreciating a Running Icon

This picture of Keely Hodgkinson was very special to me. I had only just started photographing at the time, so I was all the more happy when she shared it herself. It marked a moment of validation for me, seeing my work acknowledged in such a way. Experimenting with exposure has always been something I enjoy, and it's thrilling to see it resonate with others. The positive reception of this image certainly boosted my confidence.

As one of the few female photographers in the running community, what are your thoughts on gender dynamics in sports photography?

This is an interesting topic! It’s important to have role models to look up to in any field. For instance, when I first started, I looked up to Cortney White or Aisha McAdams (and still do). Although I’m one of the few women in this field, I have never felt disadvantaged because of my gender. However, working as a female photographer at major athletics events where everyone is trying to capture 'the one shot’ can be a challenging environment. I hope that more role models emerge and more women choose this path, so that the industry becomes more diverse and inclusive over time, based on talent and creativity.

What do you shoot with?

I mainly shoot with my first camera, the Sony Alpha 7, and also use the Ricoh GR III, which is fantastic for its quality and price, making it an ideal choice for those starting out in photography. The Ricoh is compact, yet delivers incredible image quality, making it perfect for taking it anywhere and experimenting with photography. As well as my cameras, I love experimenting with flash and Pro Mist filters to enhance my shots, especially playing around with exposure to create unique images.

What future projects are you excited about?

I'm constantly looking for new challenges and opportunities to explore different sports and capture their unique stories. I want to broaden my horizons and keep learning.

And I would really love to shoot other sports, especially cycling, the aesthetics are just so nice. But there are so many things happening in running all the time that I didn't get the chance yet, but I really want to. I love endurance sports photography in general. One goal of mine is to shoot winter sports, especially cross country skiing. I really like it. I grew up in the mountains and did a lot of cross country skiing. This is actually also something that I want to capture one day professionally.

Lea, thanks for the conversation!

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