Yesterday I attended a meetup at the Santa Anita Racetrack. It was the first time the track was holding a photographer day and there were 200+ photographers in attendance. They provided you credentials, breakfast and a Q&A session with Joe Talamo, an extremely accomplished jockey at only 21 years old, Bob Baffert, one of the top racehorse trainer and Benoit Photography, the sole photographer for this racetrack and other racetracks in Southern California. I had watched Jockeys the one season it was one and I was addicted to that show. I knew nothing about horseracing, and I still know pretty much nothing, but I find it an exciting sport and love anything that has to do with horses. We got to the track for the morning workouts, and the light was so nice, even though we were there an hour into the morning workouts.

 

We shot for the duration of the morning workouts and then the breakfast buffet was ready. The Q&A took place towards the end of the breakfast. When they opened up the Q&A, no one wanted to go first so I volunteered, which still shocks me as I normally am so shy. However, after attending more and more groups and talking to people I don’t know, it has drastically¬†helped me come out of my shell. I still have my shy moments but I wasn’t nervous about asking a question at all. I asked Joe what his favorite horse he’s ridden to date is, and I honestly can’t remember all of the horses that he mentioned other than one, Showbiz Kid. Understandably it was hard for him to pick just one. I asked Benoit Photography once the Q&A was over and the crowds had cleared out if they ever allow anyone to shoot with them for experience. SInce you have to have licenses and credentials and so many restrictions, they don’t allow people to shoot with them. Also racetrack photography is very cutthroat (as all photography industries are) and therefore they don’t hire outside photographers either as they like to keep their information private. However, yesterday they were allowed to take 5 people for each of the first four races out to where they normally shoot from and I was graciously allowed to go. I got to go out on the second race and was able to take the two people I had carpooled with as well and that race happened to be on the turf. So we got to walk across the dirt race turf and shoot the turf race from the inside rail on the dirt track. I can’t imagine that there are very few times that you are allowed to do that unless you know someone at the track or are able to be hired there. I was so grateful for the opportunity. Since I was shooting in manual and the lens I chose to use (an old film lens) was manual focus only, none of the shots I took from that viewpoint came out and I was bummed. But I will always remember the experience and will always be thankful for that. I was also so grateful for the generosity of the owners of Benoit Photography, Joe Talamo and Bob Baffert. I truly hope this event becomes an annual event, if not more frequent, as I would definitely attend again. This has also reignited my passion for horses and I am hoping to be able to find a way to be back around horses. If I can find people who would want me to photograph their horses, it would be even better. Here are a few of my favorites from the first part of the day. I plan to post many more pictures when I have had a chance to go through all of them and do some editing.