More than Speed: Matt Trappe Captures the Real Run Community

Mar 31, 2021
Photographer Spotlight

Sports and fitness photographer Matt Trappe thrives in the underground. When we talk about the underground, we’re somewhat talking about streets, but mostly bridges — namely, a race across one.

Take The Bridge is an event that differs slightly from the conventional footrace. TTB events bring together the running community and occur all over the U.S. Darcy Budworth has organized these events in places like NY, LA, and Boston for several years. The day before their Denver race, she called Matt, and things began to move quickly.

Matt Trappe photographs in Black and White the Denver Bridge for Take the Bridge US

The race itself is a coming together of a local run community to race their city for the love of it. Not much more than that, really; there is no defined course, only checkpoints, so you can take any route you’d like.

A bridge is, of course, always involved as either a start or finish point or as a significant portion of the course.

Matt Trappe on Take the Bridge in Denver ten women at the starting line

There’s ten male or ten female runners and no clock. Whoever gets to the finish line first wins.

Matt Trappe ten men at the starting line for TTB in Denver

The TTB website describes it this way: “we race bridges/no mile markers/no time clocks/only pure urban racing/competing by intuition/pacing on gut.” You have to wonder what exactly goes into documenting such a free, fast-paced, and improvisational run.

Matt Trappe photographs a runner in the dark while hes still in the air for TTB

You must anticipate and feel the event to capture it well. It’s incredibly challenging, but there’s no substitute for the authenticity of the images. I think this is one of my biggest strengths as a photographer.

Matt Trappe photographs female runner in the dark for TTB in Denver

To make matters even more tricky, the race took place in the dark, beginning on a bridge in Denver with several checkpoints throughout the city.

It’s quite dark outside. The camera’s settings are maxed out, and you’re living on the edge regarding exposure, autofocus, etc.

Matt Trape photographs male runners in the dark as they turn on to a busy street for TTB in Denver

So, Matt did his best to prepare ahead of time. Arriving early, he scoped out the nearby areas for good spots with streetlights and dynamic shadows. He also brought along a battery-powered work light instead of the much more common flash or strobes that are usually quite heavy and simultaneously extremely fragile.

It’s a construction-style work light which lets me quickly drop it on the ground without having to worry about it breaking or misfiring.

Matt Trappe photographs runner at the finish line tired and in the dark for TTB in Denver

Ultimately, Matt was delighted with this lighting solution, crediting the images’ mood to the darkness and the work light.

This shoot was fast and furious! The athletes ran until exhaustion, allowing for the genuine emotion and grit you see in the imagery.

Matt Trappe photographs exhausted runner at the end sprawled out on the pavement for Take the Bridge in Denver

He celebrates the grit for this race—especially in comparison to an ultra-produced and more staged shoot.

Matt trappe photographs runner bent over with hands on her knees looking completely out of breath and yet alert and full of adrenaline for Take the bridge in Denver

The culture of the running community isn’t produced or forced. It’s real people with a real connection to a sport, community, and city that they love. It’s people pushing themselves for the love of it, which is what connects with the wider run community and me as well.

Matt Trappe photographs runner finished happy to see her friends with skinned knees and big grins for TTB in Denver

Matt shot his project with the hope of encouraging brands in the sports and fitness industry to celebrate these stories and experiences that really resonate with their audience. He believes that showing genuine love to the everyday athletes who make up that audience could create a much more sustainable bond.

Matt Trappe photographs a masked runner looking fly in his gear for Take the Bridge in Denver

It’s not about how fast someone runs nor any accolades or accomplishments. Being a runner is an identity. Runners feel part of a community and want the brands they support to be authentic to that community.

Credits:

Race Organizer: Darcy Budworth
Run Crew: Citius Run Club
Erik Sunde and Amy Sunde

See more of Matt’s work at trappephoto.com.

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