Saturday, December 29, 2012

Return of the "Wowies!"

Last year, I held a camera phone photo contest which was lovingly dubbed by some Twitter friends as "The Wowies." I received a number of great entries and thought the contest was successful enough to try it again this year. Because I'm lazy, and because it seemed to work smoothly, I'm keeping the same rules as last year. The only change is that the contest is now open to everyone, no matter where you live in the world! Here's the scoop: puts out a racing calendar every year, and as I am one of their photographers, I get a complimentary calendar for my contributions. Since I get extra calendars, I thought it would only be appropriate to give one away as a thank-you to my followers on social media. (My mom got the other free calendar, or I'd give away more than one. Sorry.)

Monday, December 10, 2012

At long last, my epic Trestles blog

Unlike in horse racing, you don't get too many chances to see ASP events come to America. With my window to witness the greatest surfer of all time closing fast, I had but a few chances to see Kelly Slater this year without having to cross an ocean. My first choice was to see him compete at Trestles.

The San Clemente Pier
Considered a holy place for surfers, Trestles is located at San Onofre State Beach in San Clemente, California. Ironic my first encounter with surfers was in San Clemente, watching amateurs flounder near the pier, when one of the best surf spots in America was just a couple miles down the beach. While there are several great surf spots along this stretch of sand, the best and most consistent wave is at Lower Trestles, or as those in the know call it, Lowers.

The thing about Lowers? It just happens to be one of Kelly Slater's favorite playgrounds. Before going into the 2012 Hurley Pro, Kelly had won the world tour event at Lowers five times before, more than any other professional surfer. If Kelly is King of Surfing, Lower Trestles would be his kingdom. So, yeah, the first place I got to see Kelly Slater surf in person was at his home away from home.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

And now for something completely different...

I've been cheating on horse racing. Like, hardcore. Honestly, who could blame me with the onslaught of retirements sweeping through our sport like a rampant disease? I'll Have Another. Union Rags. Bodemeister. All of our best 3-year-olds are gone, gone, gone, and so my interest has admittedly waned following the spring races. 

As someone who admittedly avoids most popular sports like a mange-ridden muskrat, it probably surprised me more than anyone I could fall in love with a new sport. Perhaps it's because this isn't just another game where the object is to move a ball from one geographical location to another; or partially due to the fact it's just so different from any other sport. Either way, there's a lot to love about this new [to me] sport.

I'm talking about surfing! As in in the ocean. With a board. And wetsuits. No, it's definitely not me doing the surfing. (Big HAH!) I like to leave that up to the professionals.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

My Triple Crown Dichotomy

Since Silver Charm lost the Belmont to Touch Gold in 1997, I have made it my life goal to see a Triple Crown victory. Even if it means having my head cryogenically preserved and saved till there’s a real chance in 200 years, I vowed to see this happen. 

The nose heard 'round the world.
The Triple Crown bug first bit me when I was 14; the last near-miss had come when I was 6 and too young to understand the gravity of the event. I kind of blame Bob Baffert for hooking me, because his horse lost the Crown by ¾ of a length in 1997, and then by a nose in 1998. I was so crazy about Real Quiet, I resorted to bad poetry when the unlucky Fish lost. It taught me to want something with every fiber of my being, to dare to hope the seemingly impossible could happen. One. Freaking. Nostril. Yeah, I cried, I hated Victory Gallop with the wrath of a thousand burning suns. To this day, I sneer when I see a progeny of that horse in the winner’s circle. That legendary photo finish and its heart-shattering result will be ingrained in me forever.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Favorite photos from 2011

Not gonna lie. 2011 wasn't my favorite year, neither for racing nor for me, personally. So I wasn't particularly motivated to blog, or even put together a best-of post. But hindsight is 20/20, right? I now have a better appreciation for the races I shot last year and have decided to put together a better-late-than-never post about my top ten favorite racing shots from 2011. So here, without further ado, is my least-sucky shots from a less than stellar year.

The Factor finds a scratchin' post
 I took an impromptu trip down to Hot Springs, Arkansas to shoot the Rebel Stakes. While I was there, I stalked The Factor on the backstretch, where I discovered the gray/roan colt has quite the personality. During a bath, he started playfully shoving around his assistant trainer and used him to rub his head. I loved how this moment showed the bond between these two.

Monday, January 30, 2012

We have a winner!

Thank you to everyone who participated in my camera phone photography contest. It was very difficult to narrow it down to only one photo, but ultimately, it all came down to this eye-catching shot of Havre de Grace in the paddock before going on to dominate in the Grade I Beldame. Congratulations to the winning photographer, Derek Brown! Here is Derek's entry:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Photography Contest!

Yup, this is what you'll get if you win. puts out a racing calendar every year, and as I am one of their photographers, I get a complimentary calendar for my contributions. This year I have an extra, and thought it might be fun to hold a photography contest and give it to the winning entrant.

To put things on a level playing field, I decided to make the subject matter limited not just to racing, but to all animals. (I wasn't able to journey to my first horse racing track until I was a senior in high school, after all--how would 17-year-old me feel?) Even though technically, humans are animals, please no people shots. (Though if you sent me a fantastic picture of Bono, I would possibly make an exception. He sort of roars like a lion, right?)

Mighty Eclipse Winner

Mighty Mayberger at Hollywood Park
Let me tell you a secret about horse racing photographers: Not all of them even like horse racing. Pretty sad, isn’t it, as they are given some of the most intimate, up-close access to our great sport? These are the people who don’t know the names of the horses, don’t follow the race results, and don’t know the difference between an outrider’s pony and Zenyatta.

Then there is the other side of the coin. There are racing photographers out there who love the sport so much, they will travel across the globe to take thousands of breathtaking photos that most people will never see. They follow individual horses for the sheer love of the sport. (And the fact they are positively, one hundred percent, certifiably addicted to shooting the races.) They’re called crazy by some people—by those who just don’t understand.  

I will have been professionally photographing Thoroughbred racing for only three years this June, but I have met nearly all of the best racing photographers in that amount of time, because there are so few of us. It only takes about a single minute to figure out the motivation behind each of them. When I came upon the horse paparazzi at Belmont Park for my first time as a credentialed photographer, I had no clue I was about to meet people just as whacked out of their minds about racing as I was. I met every mindset of photographers—but in those so-called “crazies,” I found my people.