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Five Questions With An Equine Photographer

November 18, 2021

Ever wanted to know who’s behind the lens capturing early morning trackwork, the race finishes and morning beach work?  This week we caught up with Equine Photographer Ashlea Brennan to learn a bit more about equine photography.


1: What is your earliest or favourite memory of horse racing?

I grew up in a racing family and when I was a little girl my aunty (Kellie Grantham) had the most beautiful horse called Blazing Morn. He was almost like a Palomino, he was gorgeous. My cousin and I were completely obsessed with horse racing. We used to ride our scooters flat out around the stables, pretending we were in a race and we were either Northerly, Lonhro or Sunline.


2: If you could meet any horse or racing personality dead or alive, who would it be?

Tommy Smith.

Tommy J Smith was a leading Sydney trainer who won the first 33 Sydney Trainer’s Premiership. Each year during Autumn at Royal Randwick the T.J Smith Stakes is run in his honour.


3: How did you end up where you are in your career and what’s your favourite thing about it?

I realised that the opportunities weren’t available in Perth so decided to pack up and drive across Australia to Sydney. My family is my world so I lasted six months before I got homesick and drove back. After a while, I realised again that there were bigger and better opportunities east, so I drove back on my own and started photographing Harness Racing for the first three years before venturing over to the Thoroughbreds. I wish I had done it sooner. There are so many things I love about my job, especially mornings down the beach photographing the horses in the water and there is nothing more enjoyable than sitting in a paddock full of foals, but above all, I don’t think there is a greater feeling as a photographer than looking down at your camera and seeing you’ve captured ‘that’ shot. We are lucky enough to be the ones capturing moments people can cherish forever.


4: What does a day in the life of an equine photographer look like?

No day is the same which keeps my job interesting. Wednesdays are probably my most full-on day where I am at the beach in the morning and then head off to the races. Some mornings I am at trackwork before the trials begin and then I will spend the rest of the day editing the photos and delivering them to clients. Editing takes up most of my time. There is definitely no 9-5 or 5 days a week here! I love being busy though, and having my own business has changed the way I see a lot of things, especially my work ethic.


5: what is your favourite picture you have taken?

I get asked this a lot and I still don’t have the answer. I have had my business for seven years this month and every year I think I can pick at least five favourites. The image I took of Tommy Berry pointing up to the sky after Stay Inside won the 2020 Golden Slipper comes to mind every time I am asked. Tommy Berry’s twin brother was an apprentice to my aunty in Western Australia when Equine Influenza hit and we got to know the Berry family quite well. An image that is that powerful with so much emotion and tells a story without words is once in a lifetime. I got goosebumps and was a bit emotional when it popped up on my screen.


…And as an extra bonus question, if you were a racehorse, what would you be called?

No Cash Ash.


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