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The Derby Has Soule

You’ve seen him around Canterbury during a live racing day. Or if you haven’t seen him, you’ve seen his work. He’s Ryan Soule. He’s worked here as the finish line and paddock camera operator for 15 years. He provides that exciting finish line video you watch while the photo is being deciphered. Ryan’s year-round job is a graphic designer in motion and print for a local TV production company whose projects appear on Discovery Channel, History Channel and HGTV.

This week Ryan will be traveling to Louisville, Kentucky to work with the Coady Photography team as they document the Kentucky Derby. The connection came through Shawn Coady who handles the winner’s circle photography here. The Coady family has been in that business at tracks across the country for many years and also has the Churchill Downs contract. Shawn and Ryan became friends and Ryan was invited to work the Derby for the first time in 2017.

That year Ryan was assigned to infield still photography. “I brought my Go Pro video camera and captured some footage as well,” Soule said. That footage turned into a montage that impressed Coady.

Now his role on the team is primarily video, documenting the photography team as they document the Derby. “I capture video of them as they work at the biggest race of the year,” Soule said. “They use it for social media purposes.” But he is also a utility player. “I fill in if someone gets sick, needs a break or whatever.”

It’s a great gig.

“I get to watch some history. Use my skills and help out a great team of photographers,” he said.

Soule admits this year will be different.  The 150,000 sports fans, revelers, sharpies and frauds won’t be there. The stands will be empty thanks to COVID-19. Working at Canterbury this summer with a relatively silent apron has somewhat prepped him though. But when you document history, you take that history as it comes and that’s what Ryan Soule will be doing this weekend at Churchill Downs.