Talkin' Horses - Live Discussions

Barbara Livingston Photographer

Wednesday July 27, 2005

A native of the Saratoga Springs area, Barbara Livingston has gained award-winning renown as a horse racing photographer.

In her new book - Barbara Livingston's Saratoga: Images from the Heart - she captures the magic of her beloved Saratoga Race Course but goes beyond its oval to convey the unique charms of the town's architecture, its parks and gardens, and its monuments. In addition to her stunning photography, Livingston tells in her own words what the community means to her.

Greetings, and welcome to Talkin' Horses. Today, we are fortunate to have Barbara Livingston with us on the eve of the release of her new book, and just in time for opening day at the Spa. Let's get right to it...

Hi Barbara : ) First, I would like to say that Blood-Horse has a fine collection of photographers...the photos in their magazine are always great. That wonderful photo you took of Afleet Alex reaching for all he was worth for that candy his jockey Jeremy Rose was unwrapping...that was an absolutely great photo. It made me laugh. Here's my question: Do you usually ask people to try things like that out in order to get a good photo, or do you just stumble across something like that happening and snap the photo before the moment's gone? I love the humor you find in things...just like the one of Genuine Risk getting her belly scratched in your book Old Friends ... that one made me smile, too. Keep up the good work. "Stormy"

Hello, Stormy,

Thanks so much for your kind words about the Afleet Alex/Jeremy Rose photograph. The moment was a priceless one, and I was very fortunate to be there.

Generally, I don't set up 'tender' shots as they tend to be spontaneous, yet I always try to pay attention so I'll be ready if such a moment happens. In the case of Afleet Alex, Jeremy was being interviewed on a bench when Afleet Alex suddenly noticed him. The horse pushed his head over the fence begging for a treat, and Jeremy happily obliged.

Sometimes, we'll set up a particular shot and a tender moment will happen as a result. For instance, we once set up a mare and foal for a portrait at Highcliff Farm. The mare suddenly turned to her foal and licked him several times. The shot was absolutely precious, showing the relationship between the loving mare and her young foal - much more successful than the standard "set up" portrait we took that day.

Thanks also for your kind words about The Blood-Horse photographers. I'm very fortunate to work with some very talented people.

Rochester, NY:
Your racing photos are internationally famous, but you do a lot of non racing photos....It seems even more so at Saratoga. Is the Saratoga backstretch a special place for you?

I grew up near Saratoga, and the Saratoga backstretch is my personal heaven, with its sights, sounds, smells - and history. When walking down the dirt paths between aging barns, it is easy to envision the olden days. I sense Roamer walking there, and Man o' War safely nestled in his wood-walled stall, and Native Dancer heading trackside with a young Mr. Vanderbilt in tow.

Despite the problems of the modern day, the mood on Saratoga's backstretch is a happy, hopeful one. Even the horses seem unusually happy there.

Every new morning might bring another fog-wrapped dawn or brilliant sunrise.

Thanks for your question!

Best of Talkin HorsesTo read the complete transcript of this chat, along with many others, check out Best of Talkiní Horses.

Best of Talkin’ Horses features provocative “chats” with some of Thoroughbred racing’s most prominent names. Adapted from “Talkin’ Horses,” the popular weekly online chat series hosted by, this edited collection provides additional insights by Ron Mitchell, editor and moderator of “Talkin’ Horses."


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