Bossier City, LA – At the end of the 2022 Louisiana Downs Thoroughbred meet, esteemed photographer Lou Hodges, Jr. passed the baton to assistant Ann Switalski. He remains the official photographer at Fair Grounds but was looking to have some time off in the summer, after handling duties at Louisiana Downs since 2005.

Hodges hired Ann McKnight Switalski in 2016. An avid equestrienne, she began taking photos of morning works and benefited greatly from the expertise of Hodges.

“Lou made sure I understood that there is a very limited time to get the shots we need: the stretch, wire and comeback,” said Switalski.  “He taught me the importance of getting the horse in front to allow room for editing.”

The transition has been smooth as silk with Switalski completing the 2023 Quarter Horse season with total professionalism, aided by her assistant, Dawn Thomas.

Switalski is always looking for creative shots and when she is photographing a mile and 70 yard main track on the dirt, she will stroll to the gate as they load in hopes of capturing an interesting moment. On June 18, she had a most interesting opportunity.

“I took several shots as the horses left the gate and noticed some unusual movement,” explained Switalski. “After the race and back in my office, it was clear that all of the horses emerged from the gate except one. Upon further investigation I discovered a horse rearing higher and higher in each progressive shot until I almost couldn’t see his head.”

The horse was End Zone Athletics’ Aligned Interest, trained by Karl Broberg with jockey Juan Vargas guiding his mount from the awkward break to a sixth-place finish, without any issues.

“I believe my reaction when I reviewed the shot was “Holy Crap,” she added.

The management and of course, the horsemen who run at Louisiana Downs admire Switalski and hope their racehorses will pop up in their future spontaneous moments!

Rearing Gate Shot by LAD photographer Ann McKnight Switalski


Current Hodges Photography Assistant to Take the Helm in 2023

Bossier City, LA – Since 2005, photographer Lou Hodges, Jr. has captured the excitement and beauty of horse racing at Louisiana Downs. On the final day of the 2022 Thoroughbred racing season, he will officially pass the baton to his highly respected assistant Ann Switalski.

Lou Hodges, Jr. served as track photographer at several racetracks, including Rockingham Park, Washington Park and Arlington Park. His father, Lou Hodges was the official photographer at Fair Grounds in New Orleans beginning in 1948, before his son took over in 1976.

Ann Switalski and Lou Hodges. Hodges Photography.

In addition to being the official photographer at Fair Grounds, Hodges Photography also has the contract at Louisiana Downs.

Ann McKnight Switalski was born in Saginaw,  Michigan. She arrived in Louisiana in 2003 and stayed after her husband retired from the military. An avid equestrienne, she began taking photos of morning works and soon realized that an investment in a quality camera was essential. Hodges offered her an opportunity to shoot some Super Derby action and hired her in 2016.

“I was very fortunate to find Ann,” explained Hodges. “She was working for a veterinarian on the backside and was interested in photography. I met with her and noticed right away that she was very creative and asked her to come to work.”

Color and clarity are two of the elements that are evident in the work of Hodges Photography.

“Our technique for getting perfect race shots is to use telephoto lenses to have tight shots,” said Hodges. “We are always looking for different angles and different compositions that will make someone who views the image look twice.”

With no previous background in photography, Switalski realized she had a lot to learn, and with the expert guidance of Hodges, she jumped right in.

“Lou made sure I understood that there is a very limited time to get the shots we need: the stretch, wire and comeback,” said Switalski.  “He taught me the importance of getting the horse in front to allow room for editing.”

Switalski enjoys the people involved in both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing and getting memorable shots of jockeys as they jog back after a tough finish.

“Maria Baca gave me a very nice compliment,” said Switalski. “She said that no one takes photos of the riders like I do and that her mother loves them!”

Switalski, lives in Keithville, Louisiana, with her husband, Tony and sons Sam and Nathan. They share their home with three goats, two ducks, five cats and two horses, including Maverick Impression, an Appaloosa who is showing promise as a novice jumper.

She looks forward to the next chapter and is grateful for the support of her family as well as her Louisiana Downs assistant, Dawn Thomas.

On the final day of the 2022 racing season, Louisiana Downs officials honored Hodges for his service and presented him with a plaque thanking him for his excellence.

“Hodges Photography has been an integral part of the history of Louisiana Downs,” said Kevin Preston, the track’s owner and president. “We are grateful for the professionalism of Lou Hodges and the images that will remain with us forever. Ann is greatly admired by our horsemen and everyone in our organization. We know she will do an excellent job!”

The tribute meant a great deal to the inimitable photographer, who is nowhere near retiring and looks forward to the upcoming live racing season at Fair Grounds.  He wishes all the best to Switalski and is confident that the transition will be seamless.

“Ann will do a great job,” stated Hodges. “I am hoping to come back, possibly for the Super Derby, but look forward to traveling with my wife, Leslie, next summer.”

Switalski has not decided on the official name on her contract with Louisiana Downs, but can be reached at ladownsphotos@gmail.com.

About Louisiana Downs

Located near Shreveport in Bossier City, Louisiana, Louisiana Downs opened in 1974 and is now owned by Rubico Acquisition Corporation. With annual Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing seasons, the track is committed to presenting the highest quality racing programs paired with its 150,000 square foot entertainment complex offering casino gambling, dining and plasma screen televisions for sports and simulcast racing.