Louisvillian Dan Dry has been attending the Kentucky Derby for four decades now, not betting on the ponies or sipping on mint juleps like the rest of us, but looking through the tiny lens on his camera, trying to capture every harrowing second of the fastest two minutes in sports.
On Friday, April 5, Dry’s work from all 40 of those years will be on display in a new exhibition held at Unique Imaging Concepts. Titled “Dan Dry: Dawn to Derby,” the show is being co-hosted by ChromaLuxe, a local company that sponsors exhibitions across the world and creates one-of-a-kind reproductions of artwork and images for businesses, agencies, artists and more.
Each of Dry’s 40 images will be printed on ChromaLuxe metal, which is a high-definition aluminum photo panel. It’s this process that has Dry appreciative for the opportunity.
“This show will be the first time any of my work has ever been printed on metal, which I’m very excited about,” he tells Insider. “While ChromaLuxe is a Louisville-based company, they have offices around the world and have partnered with some of the most famous photographers in the world for shows. I am humbled they chose me to do this show in their hometown.”
He says he never gets tired of shooting at Churchill Downs, and his desire to constantly improve his shots keeps things interesting. Also, who would get bored between the excitement of the races and the people wearing big, floppy hats?
“Of course, the horses and the mystery of who will win the Derby is a given, but I also love meeting and photographing Kentucky Derby attendees,” he says. “It’s such a unique spectacle that attracts people from all over the world … those folks always make it interesting.”
If you’re curious, Dry does not place bets while he’s there, and in fact, he hasn’t bet on a race in more than 25 years.
“I put 100 percent of my thoughts and energy into taking that perfect image,” he explains. “For me, betting would get in the way of the experience that I’m trying to share with the viewers.”
And his favorite spot at the track to shoot? That question, he says, is easy.
“Hands down, especially during Derby week, it’s at dawn on the backside of Churchill. In my mind, absolutely nothing compares to that.”
Dry hopes viewers of the exhibit get an understanding of his unwavering dedication to photography and horse racing.
“I really hope they can get a sense of the true passion I have not only for photography and advertising, but also for how special Churchill Downs, the horses, attendees and employees are to me,” he says.
“Dan Dry: Dawn to Derby” opens Friday, April 5, with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. There’s also a Derby Grand Opening Reception on Friday, April 26. The exhibit continues through May 31. Unique Imaging Concepts is located inside Distillery Commons, Suite 120, at the corner of Payne Street and Lexington Road.
Before Dry prepares for opening night, he answered some very important questions …
What was your first concert?
Sly and the Family Stone in my hometown of Athens, Ohio. I still remember it like it was yesterday. This concert helped foster my love for live music.
What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
I regularly give presentations on how to shoot better photographs, so I can do a 40-minute lecture on anything that deals with photography in my sleep.
What job would you be terrible at?
I’m sure there are plenty, but a personal trainer is the first that comes to mind. I don’t work out much.
What is your favorite restaurant or bar?
That’s a really tough question for me because so many of my great friends are either chefs, restaurateurs or work in the service industry. However, if I had to pick one restaurant, it would be Volare. Chef Josh Moore is one of my closest friends, and they do a wonderful job there.
What is something you think everyone should do at least once?
Drive across the country using only back roads. It gives you a true vision of our beautiful country.
Where would you direct a newcomer of Louisville to get a feel for the city?
As trite as it seems, I would direct a newcomer to Bardstown Road. I hit the farmers market there weekly, and it offers great restaurants, fun bars, interesting art galleries, bookstores and boutiques that are all locally owned and operated.
If a newcomer were to spend a few hours exploring, they would find out what makes this city of ours such an awesome place to call home.
What keeps you here?
PriceWeber certainly keeps me here because I truly love my job. Creating great work with my team and mentoring all of the young creatives here is an experience that is second to none. This city is a great place to live filled with amazing restaurants, art, entertainment, sports and let’s not forget the bourbon.