Welcome to the Webbpage Blog. Home of Tim Webb Photography. Here is where you can see what really goes on in my life. Enjoy!

Derby 150

May 01, 2024

With the running of the 150th Kentucky Derby coming up Saturday, I thought I’d do a little reminiscing about the 11 Derbies that I shot for either the Louisville Courier-Journal or the Lexington Herald-Leader, as well as a few corporate gigs that I did at the Derby for Xerox.

I shot my first Derby for the Herald-Leader in 2004, which was the year of Smarty Jones. I didn’t work at Churchill Downs that year, but I covered the Derby at Keeneland in Lexington. Turns out, that place is packed each year for the Derby, and is a great atmosphere if you don’t want to go to Louisville.

The following year, I made it to Churchill and covered the infield during the day, and then the First Turn during the race for the Courier-Journal. The CJ does a piece each year in their print edition called “Around the Track,” which is a series of panoramic photos that show where each horse is during the race, and my part was at the First Turn. Jockey Mike Smith and Giacomo crossed the line at 50–1 odds in 2005 and came within a few feet of me as they made their victory lap back to the winners circle.

I remember it was so hot that year as I sat at my spot on the track, waiting for the race to start, that I paid some kid $5 to go get me a screw top 20 ounce Pepsi. After I drank it, I thought to myself that I may never have an opportunity to sit on the track and photograph the world’s greatest horse race ever again, so I scooped up dirt from the track into the empty Pepsi bottle to take home as a souvenir. Turns out, I made it back to the First Turn nine more times.  

One of the most interesting moments of my entire career came in 2008. Just seconds after Big Brown won the Derby, he was making his way back to the winner’s circle, and instead of staying in the middle of the track as NBC’s reporter Britney Eurton interviewed jockey Kent Desormeaux, Big Brown pushed the outrider to the outside rail. He was literally on top of me, as I pushed as hard as I could against the chain link fence behind me to get enough separation for a shot. Technically, it wasn’t the greatest shot ever, but the fact that the Kentucky Derby winner was within inches of my lens, it was a pretty damn good shot!

But the joy ended there, because once Big Brown got past me, I saw that another horse was down on the track, back toward the back stretch. It was Eight Belles. She had to be euthanized on the track for a broken leg. I had a very graphic photo with the track’s vet pulling off the syringe cover with his mouth as he stood over top of the filly. At first, the CJ refused to run it all, which kind of confused me, but eventually they buried five of my photos in the online edition. I had mixed emotions about that because it was news and it happened in front of 158,000 people and on national television. But, in retrospect, it was probably too much reality for the general public, especially after Barbaro had died just two years earlier. Channel 36 in Lexington did an interview with me that explains it more.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time covering the Kentucky Derby. It was never about the money because I only made $250 for the day, which was a great day-rate for newspapers, but was only a fraction of what I make for the day as a corporate freelance photographer. I always loved the atmosphere of
the Derby because it was such a cultural paradox. In the grandstands you could see dresses, suits, cigars, and hats, that literally cost thousands of dollars, or you could go to the infield and some girl in a tank top and a pair of cut off jeans would flash her tits…just for the heck of it! You never knew what to expect in the infield. 

I worked a couple of years for Xerox in addition to the CJ and made it up to the fringes of Millionaire Row. While there, I once stood in a buffet line and talked with NFL legend Terry Bradshaw, and once got a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. But for the most part, I enjoyed the opportunity to photograph and document The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports, with ordinary people on all sides of the economic spectrum. As long as I live, I’ll never forget what it felt like to stand on the dirt, on the track of this famed venue, listening as they sang My Old Kentucky Home each year. It was one of the greatest treasures of my career! There’s nothing else like it. Weep no more my lady!!!

Eventually, my kids grew up and started going to prom, which was always on the first Saturday in May at their school. As much as I love photography, it’s like a mistress that is constantly pulling me away from my family. I decided that I had been there and done that with the Derby long enough, and that it was more important to be a Dad in Richmond than it was to be one of hundreds of photographers working the Derby in Louisville. With that, I shot my last Derby in 2014, and I now enjoy watching it on my couch, in the comforts of my own home, with a cold beer that didn’t cost $12!

And they're off....

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Photo by Tim Webb

2014 First Turn

Photo by Tim Webb

My first First Turn, 2005

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Jockey Mike Smith celebrating after winning the 2005 Kentucky Derby with Giacomo.

I still have that Pepsi bottle with dirt from the track in my office.

Photo by Tim Webb EQUINEEQUINE EQUINEEQUINE EQUINEEQUINE EQUINEEQUINEStanding at the rail, covering the Kentucky Derby for the Louisville Courier-Journal, May 2006.

The Eastern Progress Photo Editors Club working the Derby in 2009. Left to right, Kevin Martin (2000), myself (1991), Mark Cornelison (1989), & Rob Carr (1986).

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Kentucky Derby 2011. I picked up Xerox as a client for Oaks and Derby and got to spend a little time in the suites.

Working for Xerox in 2010.


EQUINEEQUINEWorking the infield during the Kentucky Derby, 2007. Working the infield.
Standing with the Spires, Kentucky Oaks, 2010. Photo by Dan Dry

EQUINEEQUINEBig Brown inches away from my camera lens, just minutes after winning the 2008 Kentucky Derby.
Big Brown stuck his nose in my lens just a few seconds after winning the 2008 Kentucky Derby.

EQUINEEQUINEFilly Eight Belles goes down and is euphemized near the back stretch, after breaking her two front legs, after placing in the 2008 Kentucky Derby. Eight Belles went down during the 2008 Derby.

Photo by Tim Webb   Photo by Tim Webb
The parade of owners and trainers before the race is always a specitale at the First Turn!

Photo by Tim Webb Photo by Tim Webb Photo by Tim Webb Scenes from the infield at Derby 139.
May 4, 2013
Eric Vernenberg, front, and Eric Doolittle, slide on a tarp in the infield, during Derby 139.
May 4, 2013
EQUINEEQUINE EQUINEEQUINE EQUINEEQUINE EQUINEEQUINE EQUINEEQUINE EQUINEEQUINE EQUINEEQUINE EQUINEEQUINE EQUINEEQUINE EQUINEEQUINEPhoto by Tim Webb Calvin Borel celebrates with Super Saver after winning the 2010 Kentucky Derby, in a mudfest, seen below. EQUINEEQUINE This guy from Chicago got creative with sneaking liquor into the infield. Is it a loaf of bread, or is it a pint of bourbon? Hard to tell!

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The media center was the largest that I have ever worked in, with about 300 credentialled photographers. But you notice I'm up top looking down on the commoners, ha!, with the Courier-Journal, the Herald-Leader and the Associated Press. And the food there was freaking awesome!!!
Two Louisville Courier-Journal legends here. Michael Clevenger, left, and the venerable Bill Luster, right. 

EQUINEEQUINE Photo by Tim Webb Self Portrait My last view from the office, 2014.


My 2008 Interview with Channel 36 about the Eight Belles tragedy. 

 


High Fiving Joe Lieberman

March 28, 2024

I thought about this photo of Senator Joe Lieberman when I heard that he passed away yesterday. I took it at EKU during the 2000 presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Lieberman was a senator from Connecticut and was Gore’s running mate.

The vice presidential debate between he and Dick Chaney was at Centre College in Danville that October. While Chaney chose to fly into Kentucky on the day of the debate, Lieberman chose to stay in Richmond (in a Super 8 on Exit 87 of all places) and prep at the University. He made a public appearance on campus that brought in the secret service and the national media that included CNN, Fox, and other national affiliates.

The one thing I did well at that point in my career was study other photographers on the national level. I was so excited to learn that the White House was sending one of Gore’s photographers, a woman named Callie Shell, whose work I had followed. Our president Bob Kustra and football coach Roy Kidd wanted to meet Lieberman, and I got to shoot that with Callie Shell, while the rest of the media had to stay back in what was known as the press pool. I was plum ga-ga about it, because I got to stand shoulder to shoulder with Callie Shell.

But the secret service failed to tell me that after that shoot with Kustra and Kidd that I had to go back into the press pool with everyone else. Lieberman then went to the grille in the student center to meet some students, when he saw this little boy who was there with his grandparents because they were both on staff at EKU. Lieberman couldn’t pass up the obvious photo-op and gave the kid a high-five.

Here’s where things went south! I thought to myself, “It’s my campus, and I’m the University Photographer, and I can go anywhere I want!” Not!!! I got down on my knees for a low angle and was moving in on the scene, when the folks in the pool started yelling at me to back off. And then it happened. I felt a big hand on my back as two secret service agents dragged me back. But…I got my shot before they got me.

Looking back on this, if that had happened earlier in my career I would’ve been mortified. I probably would’ve just walked out and never came back and spent the next few weeks in the fetal position. But, I shrugged it off, thinking, I would probably never see most of those people again. And, I was right. A few hours later, they all left and I got my campus back.

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The Ansel Adams Mural Project

March 26, 2024

About two years ago on April 22, 2022, I made a post about my love for Ansel Adams called "RIP Mr. Adams." I was in Washington DC with my family this past December and finally got to visit the Department of Interior Building, where one of Adams' biggest projects is housed. Visting the Department of Interior was also on the bucket list for my son Nolan who works for the Department of Interior and the National Park Service as a park ranger at Mammoth Cave National Park.

In 1941, then-secretary Harold Ickes commissioned Adams to produce a series of murals of the American Southwest to hang in the department's new building. Although, oddly enough, becaue of World War II they cancelled the project and didn't install them, even though Adams had made over 200 photographs for it, including my favorite "Moonrise Over Hernadez, New Mexico." The murals were finally installed in 2009, and it was stunning to finally see these life sized images in person. 

As I said in my 2022 post, I have been influenced by so many photographers during my career. And I feel like I've taken or borrowed a little bit here and a little bit there from each of them, but no other photographer has ever had an impact on me as much as Ansel Adams has.

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Old Friends Volume II

February 26, 2024

It’s funny how some people come and go in your life while other friendships can transcend space and time. One of those friends for me is Brenda Ahearn.

Brenda strolled into my office at EKU one day in October 1996, and wouldn’t take no for an answer until she became one of my student photographers. I had a lot of students work for me over the years but she was the first one to go on and make a career out of it.

Brenda has traveled all over the world and has literally worked and lived all over the United States. Her resume looks like an atlas, ha! She is currently one of the University Photographers at the University of Michigan.

She doesn’t make it back home to Kentucky very often but when she does she always takes time to come see me, which makes this old man feel good. We’ll talk on the phone 3-4 times a year and solve all the world’s problems, and we always call each other on our birthdays, but it was nice seeing her in person today. I’m really proud of her, and really happy that she didn’t settle for “no” 28 years ago. It’s funny how God works that way sometimes.
 

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Old Friends

January 26, 2024

In a March 31, 2022 blog post titled Jones 305 #2, I wrote about one of my former student photographer's Kevin Martin. Kevin recently became the Deputy Director of Photography at the Boston Globe. Kevin is a rarity in that he chose the photo editor's path a long time ago and stuck with it. I doubt Boston will be Kevin's last stop in this industry because he's good at what he does. Kevin and his family came back home to Mt. Sterling over the holidays, and we turned it into a reunion of Central Kentucky photographers who worked with Kevin 20 years ago.

Here is my post from March 2022...

I finally learned that the best photographers were the ones who sought me out. The ones that I recruited never seemed to work out. I took it as a God-thing and would just let the Good Lord send people to me. Somewhere around 2001 or 2002, a kid from Mount Sterling emailed me saying he was leaving Western Kentucky University's photojournalism program to come to Eastern, which was unheard of. He said he felt like he was just a number at Western. I told him how myself, along with Mark Cornelison and Rob Carr had come out of Eastern and succeeded when Eastern truly didn't have a photo program to speak of. But, I told him Eastern would give him one thing and that was opportunity.

Opportunity to be a Big Fish in a very small pond. Myself, Corn, and Carr were all examples of what hard work and perseverance could do for you at a place like Eastern. Kevin took my advice, transferred, and worked for me, The Eastern Progress and the Lexington Herald-Leader. Kevin took some criticism for leaving Western, but he proved his critics wrong by going on to get a masters in photojournalism from Ohio University, served on the board of the National Press Photographers Association, and eventually worked at newspapers in Boston, Augusta, Baton Rouge, San Antonio, Knoxville, The Associated Press, and is currently freezing to death as the Visuals Editor at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, where he was recently named the national visuals editor of the year.

 

The EKU Group: Chris Radcliffe and Kevin, who both worked for me as university photographers in 2001-2003, myself, and Mark Cornelison.

We had lunch at Joe Bologna's in Lexington. Back row standing, left to right, Mark Cornelison, Amy Wallot, Charles Bertram, myself, Chris Radcliffe. Front row left to right, David Coyle, David Stephenson, David Perry, Kevin and his father Steve. (I was the odd man out by sitting at the David Table with the three Davids).
 

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