Niagara Gazette

December 30, 2013

Niagara Falls natives built exciting career photographing motor racing

by Mia Summerson ngedit@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Joe Proietti and Sander Abramson have spent the past few decades photographing some of motor racing’s most exciting moments.

Since the late ‘70s, Proietti and Abramson, who are both originally from Niagara Falls, have had photos appear in local and national publications. This includes National Speed Sport News, which was the only weekly national motor racing newspaper in 1980 when Proietti and Abramson started shooting for them.

“We started off by shooting photos wherever we could get credentials,” said Proietti. “We found out that everybody was doing the same thing when they got started.”

Both of them have accumulated a vast array of credentials, each one a testimony to yet another step along the path of their careers. Those careers eventually led them to become a part of the American Racing Press Association. ARPA’s membership requires a nomination and meeting a set of requirements, that Proietti and Abramson both had met.  

Over the years they managed to build their way up to covering the biggest of the big events when it comes to motor racing. Their resumes include shots from NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula 1 races.

Proietti and Abramson’s friendship and photography careers began a very long time ago. They have always been fans of motor racing and of photography, having belonged to camera clubs since they were younger.

“In 1969, I went to Fredonia and Joe went to Geneseo,” said Abramson. “I got married and moved to Lockport, Joe got married and stayed here.

“We kind of went off on our own separate tracks and I was shooting for Medina at Watkins Glen. I was walking back to the pits and Joe was just down there for the race.”

In the massive crowd, it was a shock that the two ran into each other after all the time that had passed, and things only grew from there.

Proietti and Abramson, who’s work is collectively known as Rhino Graphics, consider themselves to be innovators in the art of photography, claiming that they were able to add elements to images just using the capabilities of their cameras. These days those effects are done on computers.

“A lot of the special effects that magazines use now, we were doing with a camera,” Proietti said. “Back then it was considered to be ‘artsy fartsy’, and it turned out to be how they’re doing it now.”

Since they began, they’ve come a long way. While Proietti says he is still employed by National Speed Sport News, Abramson has had to stop doing trackside shoots due to a knee injury.

The moments captured by the Proietti and Abramson tell incredible stories of the lives and times of motor racing fans and participants. Capturing all unique moments from the glory days of drivers who have since passed on to enthusiastic crowds who won’t let a little rainstorm keep them away from the track. But both agree the most important part was the experience they were fortunate enough to share with each other. 

“For me this was all about friendship and memories,” said Abramson.