April 21 - 23, 2017
* Horse Country!
* Keeneland Racetracks
* Decent nightlife
* Tons of farm to table dining
* Lovely weather
* Beer and Bourbon and Wine
* It's gorgeous. Rolling hills. White picket fences. Horses everywhere. Stunning.
* Lots of activities and sights to see, easy to make a full weekend or even week here
* Extreme disparity between wealthy and poor (small run down neighborhoods vs acres of massive homes)
* Must have a car, public transportation was not apparent
How did I end up in the Bluegrass State? How did I not end up here sooner? I always thought as a child, once I left Minnesota it would be to live in Kentucky. Home of thoroughbred racing. I loved horses and pictured my adult self being in the horse industry. Unfortunately, that's not the direction my adult self actually decided to take, so I never made it to Kentucky until this trip.
I had been wanting to partake in one of the Nikon Mentor Series with the Nikon professional photographers. As soon as I saw Kentucky pop up, my fate was sealed. The professional photographers were Mike Corrado & Michael Schwarz and the workshop was filled with horse-racing, whiskey-tasting and American bluegrass.
Our first stop was Keeneland Race Track. The National Historic Landmark is open to the public year around and it's stunning. A tranquil setting with lovely stone fences and historic buildings. We spent the afternoon capturing the high-speed action and excitement of the races. Mike and Michael gave pointers on the best locations on the track. They reviewed photos and recommended adjustments in settings. There was Nikon gear available to test and use, and we all took advantage!
The next morning we were up bright and early to return to Keeneland for a sunrise shoot. Our mentors lead us through the tracks allowing us the unique opportunity to capture the impressive physical beauty of the horses alone with their trainers.
After the excitement of the track, we were off to Three Chimneys Farm, where our mentors instructed us in lighting and framing techniques to capture the rich colors of the grounds and stables, as well as the horses in residence. The staff gave us a tour of the stables and enlightened us in the history of Three Chimneys.
Next up was a tour of a historic Shaker village which offered us a glimpse of pioneer life and the opportunity for more portrait shots with the artisans and blacksmiths dressed in traditional clothing.
Last but not least our tour lead us to the historic Woodford Reserve Distillery. Nestled amid the rolling wheat fields and thoroughbred farms, the distillery sits on Kentucky’s oldest distilling site, which dates back to 1812. We has the opportunity to photograph the unique architecture of the distillery and barrelhouse, and practice portrait photography alone with the whiskey-makers.
A great introduction to Kentucky and excellent photography workshop. I highly recommended visiting Lexington if you ever get the chance!
Other items of interest at Keeneland:
The Keeneland Library, established in 1939 is a public research and reference library that is one of the world’s largest repositories of information related to the Thoroughbred.
The Keeneland Shop, you will find Keeneland-branded merchandise, equine gifts, home goods, barware and luxury apparel (also available online.)
The Keeneland Track Kitchen is a morning highlight, home-style food trainers, jockey's and sports enthusiasts dinning together before sunup!
Keeneland is also the largest and most prominent Thoroughbred auction house in the world. It hosts three sales annually in January, September and November.
Tours of the grounds, learn about the history of Keeneland, go behind-the-scenes of the racing and sales operations, enjoy a trackside view of morning workouts and get an exclusive look at the Jockeys Quarters.
And of course don't forget the racing!!
VisitHorseCountry.com is the place to find all the farm tours, and they do sell out. They have some prearranged itineraries which is also a great option. I made it to the following farms, each tour was about $30, I'd recommend all of them:
- Claiborne Farms: The home of Secretariat, Claiborne is one of the most storied farms and families in Horse Country, a historic Thoroughbred operation for over 100 years.
- WinStar Farm: Stunning barn and grounds.
- Taylor Made Stallions: Home of California Chrome!
I did not get to visit Coolmore as it was booked solid, so if you want to see American Pharoah, make your plans early.
Hyatt Regency Lexington 401 W High Street Lexington, KY 40507 T: 859.253.1234