When Martin Parr’s luck came in at the Kentucky Derby
The British photographer loves horse racing, and got lucky in Louisville when this shot lined-up in his viewfinder
Martin Parr likes horse races. He has photographed racing meets across Britain and the world, taking to the stands at famous British courses such as Ascot, Epsom and Aintree, as well as at more distant grounds, in South Africa, Australia and Dubai.
Most of his fellow visitors had their eyes trained on the horses, but Parr, of course, turns his camera on his favourite subject: humankind. The images in Only Human’s A Day at the Races section, show how horse-racing enthusiasts across the world are united in their exuberant clothes and ostentatious accessories.
In 2015 Parr made his first trip to America’s best-loved horse race, the Kentucky Derby. He loved it.
“I was delighted,” he told Time. “It’s very American: there’s no place where the prices are so huge. It’s American Capitalism at its best and worst. Everything out there was crazy.”
“You just walk around and you take pictures,” he went on to say. “You locate different hotspots and different places that you keep coming back to. It’s a massive space. I probably didn’t get to every grandstand, every corner. So you go back to the same places where you know things reveal themselves. Of course, the hat is irresistible. It’s a photographer’s dream.”
One of the best images taken on that day featured another of Parr’s favourite subjects: a queue. The photographer says he waited and waited until this particular image lined-up in his viewfinder, and knew immediately he had a winning photograph.
The ladies are of course queuing for the bathroom, on their phones and standing in line. It’s a great piece of reportage, but the image’s symmetry is wonderful too, as are the feathered hats and handsets.
Martin Parr has personally signed and numbered a limited print-run of 100 of these photographs, which form part of our Collector’s Editions series.
Currently valued at £600 and $800, the 11 x 14 in (356 x 280 mm) is a canny investment, a wonderful gift for anyone keen on photography, fashion, horse racing or contemporary culture, and it also makes a fine addition to any wall. Find out how you can buy your copy here.