Stories: "Nothing but a Camera and a Love of Racing"
I’ll never forget my first racing experience, a summer day at Belmont with my parents when I was seven years old. Luckily, I don’t have to – that day, brought a disposable Kodak camera with me. I took all 30 photos that camera allowed, and unexpectedly discovered not one passion, but two. From then on, you couldn’t find me at the track without a camera. Over time, I began to work with better cameras, and each day I spent at the track taught me something new about both photography and about the sport we love. Simply put, I was hooked.
My journey into racing began in earnest while working the 2014 Breeders’ Cup with Eclipse Sportswire, with whom I’ve been working ever since. Having organized an internship, I brought a passion for, and a willingness to learn, racetrack photography and the intricacies of a day of shooting. There, myself and my fellow interns were told to do one thing: tell a story. Make people wish they were there.
I should admit, trying to convey that enthusiasm wasn’t that hard to do – attending a Breeders’ Cup, let alone working one, had always been a dream of mine, and I just wanted to make images that could convey my own passion and excitement at getting to be there. That was the first weekend that I got to enjoy a “behind the scenes” view of horses and their connections, and it gave me a whole new lens, no pun intended, through which to view the industry.
I tackled a huge learning curve that weekend, but I got to learn from, and still do learn from, the skills and intuition of some of the most talented photographers in racing. Photography is hard work and tough business, but if you can create images that capture the heart of racing while still conveying your own joy at getting to capture those moments, you create for yourself your own experiences and memories while still learning so much.
Over the last three years, armed with nothing but a camera and a love of racing, I have journeyed across the continent; Santa Anita Breeders’ Cups, Kentucky Derbies, Queen’s Plates, long weekends at Keeneland, and even a windy day at Turfway Park are memories I cherish. I have met lifelong friends, and my love of the sport has grown incredibly. Photography has, in short, led me everywhere I could have possibly hoped to go.
And now, it leads me to Equestricon, which promises to be an experience like no other. I’m so incredibly proud to say that the two Eclipse Sportswire interns with whom I shared that 2014 Breeders’ Cup, Sam Bussanich and Averie Levanti, are both by my side on the Young Photographer’s Panel. The two of us, through photography, have grown together in the industry, and we are more than looking forward to sharing our experiences and our work. Hopefully we will be able to teach what we’ve learned.
But Equestricon has so many more opportunities that young people can capitalize on - In just a few days, you can learn all you need to know about the racing industry – straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
The weekend offers unprecedented access to racing’s movers and shakers, as well as to historic Saratoga. Want to learn about training straight from a trainer? You can do that. Want to learn the secrets of handicapping from the world’s best? Go right ahead. There are also several networking sessions scattered throughout the weekend, and these are incredible opportunities to meet people with a passion for racing to match yours. Get talking; you never know who you’ll meet or where in the wonderful world of thoroughbreds you’ll go together – I can certainly vouch for that, and it all would have started at Equestricon.
ABOUT SOPHIE SHORE
Sophie Shore is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania and has been an avid racing fan all her life, attending races all around the country, including those in her home state of New York. One of her biggest goals is to get a greater number of young people involved in racing and hopefully to win a race at Saratoga as an owner. She will appear on the Young Racing Photographers Panel on Monday, August 14th at Equestricon.