I’m not sure how this straw hat came to be in my possession. I know that I didn’t buy it, and it was already a little beat up when I first put it on. It shaded my face while I groomed and tacked my horse, Tobie. Its open construction helped keep my head from getting too hot when the temperatures soared in San Diego. I wore it to the barn when I rode and on walks with my German Shepherd, Raleigh.
I wore the hat on my first trip to Los Alamitos Race Course in Cypress, CA. The day prior I had met legendary Thoroughbred trainer, Art Sherman, and he had invited me to accompany him the following morning, to watch his horses train. That visit was on August 1, 2014, and among Sherman Racing Stables’ trainees that day was fan favorite and newly crowned Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner, California Chrome.
Initially, I wore the hat out of necessity and convenience. Hitting the road at 3:00 AM on Fridays to make the two-hour drive from San Diego to Cypress, it helped me to get out the door with little effort. As an added benefit, it really bothered Art. The hat fueled our banter, as Art rarely relented in the grief he gave me, saying it looked as if I had worn it to bed.
I put the hat on for race days, and it became a way for many Chromies - the devoted fans of the racing champion - to identify me. Through my regular training reports and photographs - The Chrome Diaries - his fans became my audience, and the hat was a way for them to know it was me, without introduction, so that we could connect in person.
In November of 2014, as I covered my first Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA. I recall, quite vividly, hearing Chrome’s fans call out to me as I walked up the track toward the starting gate as the horses were entering. When I turned to wave, they were waving back and giving me the “thumbs up” sign. I was stunned, and humbled. It was the hat.
In 2015, at Belmont Park, after covering my first Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown victory for American Pharaoh and Victor Espinoza, a man in the parking lot offered me $1,000 for my hat. Without pausing, I told him it was not for sale. When asked why I would turn down such a windfall, I simply replied, “It’s how Chrome finds me in a crowd.”
After moving from San Diego to Georgia, whenever I traveled to one of California Chrome’s races, the hat was packed in my suitcase. This did not help its condition. Each time I had to reshape it after a journey, I wondered how long it would last. By mid-2016, as Chrome was turning in a remarkable campaign as a five-year-old, the hat came with me. It hardly even looked like a hat anymore, with straw worn away to expose the structural wire at the front of the brim, but I could not leave it behind.
As the team prepared their champion for the Pacific Classic at Del Mar Race Track in August of 2016, I reported to the barn one morning, hatless. When Art saw me, he barked, “Where’s your hat?” I said it was in the car, and he immediately sent me to retrieve it. By that time the hat was a part of the team’s “racing luck”, a routine with which one did not alter.
When California Chrome retired, so did my straw hat. It moved with me to Kentucky this past June, where I’ve had thoughts of creating a shadow box, with press credentials and a photo of Chrome and the team. But in reality, it lives in a box - placed there by my dear friend, Amy Tremper, as she helped me organize my studio last fall. The box is labeled, very simply - “The hat”.
“The hat” was one of my first thoughts as I was inspired to embark on this new project. I loved photographing it and am thrilled with the resulting image that now adorns a wall of my home. Each time I pass it, I am reminded of the magical three year ride that I was so privileged to take, with Team Sherman and California Chrome.
Do you have a cherished item, tucked away on a shelf somewhere? Schedule a photo session and I’ll turn it into a one-of-a-kind work of art. Contact me to learn more.
Noah started collecting coins when he was four or five years old. In the beginning, he admits, they weren't unique, but they were special to him. A reminder of places and events.
As he grew, so did his knowledge of coins, and his collection. He looks for coins at every opportunity. In his change from a vending machine and simple daily transactions over which most of us would not linger. He is fascinated.
The favor that Noah reserves for a particular coin has little to do with its “value”, and everything to do with its “character”. It is a penny, minted in 1943, when a wartime copper shortage required that pennies be made of steel, with a thin layer of zinc alloy. Over the years, the zinc has darkened, making it difficult to see the details of the coin, even with his jewelers loop.
This steel penny, and the rest of his coin collection, is stored in booklets and protective sleeves, in a box that Noah keeps under his bed. He takes it out to put new acquisitions in their place, and to remind himself of what’s missing. The rest of the time, as with most collections, it is safely tucked away, out of sight.
It was my absolute joy to photograph this unique coin for Noah and to present him with a one-of-a-kind art print that allows him to see every detail. And the smile that came across his face the first time he saw it was an incredible reward.
Do you have a collection lurking in the shadows? Why not give it life by allowing me to create an art print for you to place on your wall? Contact me to learn more.
It’s a five pound piece of granite. A rock, on which a sassy face has been painted. Samantha has had the rock since fourth grade.
Her great-grandmother was an artist and she put the face on the rock, as a simple gesture of irreverence. A reminder to laugh and smile and be silly. Her GG has passed, but Sam keeps the rock.
She took it with her to college, to the apartment where she lived when she started working after graduating, and now, to her first “grown up” home with her fiancé. The rock lives with books, on a shelf in their bedroom.
Even though Sam sees the rock every day, she wanted to have it with her at work, as well. So together we created a beautiful art print that now hangs in her workspace. She told me that it serves as a daily reminder, to not take things too seriously. Something her GG would love.
Do you have a cherished item, something you would like to share with a loved one? Let me create a piece of art that will allow your prize possession to live in more than one place. Contact me to learn more.
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