For Barry Bornstein, photography is an avocation, not a profession. But that doesn't mean he lacks talent.
Bornstein's images capture Dogwood Stable's Palace Malice, the Aiken Training Track and other equine-related subjects from unconventional angles. His work often stresses artistry over documentation.
“I always try to do something a little different,” said Bornstein during a recent telephone interview. “Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.”
Bornstein, 71, lives from mid-October to mid-May in Aiken. The rest of the time he resides in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Saratoga Springs is the home of Saratoga Race Course, which opened for its annual racing meet on Friday.
“We've got the best trainers, the best horses and the best jockeys here,” Bornstein said.
Palace Malice arrived in Saratoga on June 24, and Bornstein was at trainer Todd Pletcher's barn there to take pictures of one of Thoroughbred racing's biggest stars.
“Palace Malice is a horse that has a personality,” Bornstein said. “It was amazing when I first saw him up here when he got off the van. It almost appeared that he remembered me, and he knew that I had a camera because he just looked at me and literally posed.”
Bornstein was at New York's Belmont Park last year when Palace Malice won the Grade I Belmont Stakes, and he took numerous photos of the bay colt while he enjoyed a vacation in Aiken from last November until early January.
“When Cot (Campbell) brought him to Aiken, I asked the Dogwood people, ‘Do you mind if I do this?' and we've kind of worked together,” Bornstein said.
“At some point, depending on what happens to the horse, I'm going put something together. I don't know if it's going to be a book. I don't know if it's going to be a calendar. I don't know what it's going to be.”
Bornstein spent more than 30 years working in the nonprofit sector, where he served as an executive for several organizations before his retirement. He became interested in photography while in high school.
“I used to do a lot of lifestyle pictures to illustrate stories,” Bornstein said. “If I had a forte, it was working with people with disabilities and photographing them for the Special Olympics, Easter Seals and things like that.”
About 10 years ago, Bornstein became a Thoroughbred racehorse owner, and that's when he found himself taking more and more pictures of events in the equine world.
“Horses are just beautiful animals,” said Bornstein, who is the treasurer and senior partner of Mosaic Racing, which has four Thoroughbreds in its portfolio.
When Bornstein is in Aiken, he spends six mornings a week at the Aiken Training Track. When he is in New York, he is at Saratoga Race Course four or five mornings a week.
“I've also shot polo, carriages and eventing, but for the most part, I stay with the racing Thoroughbreds,” said Bornstein, who uses Nikon digital camera equipment.
Bornstein's photographs have appeared most recently in such publications as Southern Racehorse, Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred and Bella Magazine. They also have been exhibited in Aiken and Saratoga Springs.
Bornstein enjoys using Photoshop and other computer software to change the appearance of his pictures.
“It's a technique I developed,” he said. “My goal is to make them look like watercolor paintings. I don't want to just kind of replicate what other people do.”
Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013.
Submitted PHOTO BY BARRY A. BORNSTEIN Three Darley Thoroughbreds stay together as they exercise at the Aiken Training Track.×
Submitted PHOTO BY BARRY A. BORNSTEIN The paddock at Saratoga Race Course attracts a crowd on a sunny day.×
Submitted PHOTO BY BARRY A. BORNSTEIN A horse gets a bath outside a barn on a peaceful morning at Saratoga Race Course.×
Submitted PHOTO BY BARRY A. BORNSTEIN Steeplechasers head over a jump together during a race.×
Submitted PHOTO BY BARRY A. BORNSTEIN Havre de Grace, the 2011 Horse of the Year, heads to the racetrack at Saratoga Race Course.×
Submitted PHOTO BY BARRY A. BORNSTEIN Palace Malice gallops on the Aiken Training Track while getting a break from racing.×
Submitted PHOTO BY BARRY A. BORNSTEIN Eager fans greet Palace Malice at the Aiken Training Track while the colt is being held by Ron Steven, right, of Legacy Stable.×
Submitted PHOTO BY BARRY A. BORNSTEIN Barn structures frame a horse and rider.×
Submitted PHOTO BY BARRY A. BORNSTEIN A horse gallops by at the Aiken Training Track.×