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Friday, 16 August 2013 09:52

Behind the Lens

By Brian Cremo | News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The father-son duo of Bob and Adam Coglianese have been the eyes behind some of the all-time best horseracing photographs at the Saratoga Race Course and the rest of the New York Racing Association circuit for over 50 years.

Adam began his journey to professional photography back in 1985 when he went to the Aqueduct Race Track and took some shots at the Breeders’ Cup. It was at that point, at age 13, he knew he wanted in on the family business of professional photography.

Bob originally worked in the photography field under his uncle, Mike Sirico, before the family tradition was continued through Coglianese Photos, Inc., which came to fruition in 1962.

Three decades later, Adam began learning from his father and officially joined in 1992.

Their private contracting business does all of NYRA’s publicity, including extra events in addition to the NYRA circuit meets. The team has also spent winters in Florida documenting the races at Gulfstream Park since 2008.

Their cameras capture every winner of every race of every NYRA meet.

“We don’t miss,” Adam said. 

Back in 2009, Adam made sure he didn’t miss Rachel Alexandra’s finish to win the Grade I Wooodward Stakes, a race that he remembers as one of his favorites. The captured moment, via a panoramic photograph facing the crowd, earned him a 2009 Media Eclipse Award for Photography Honorable Mention (photo right).

“You can’t forget the crowd that day,” Adam said. “When she won the race and took the lead, the roar from the crowd at Saratoga was bigger than anything I can remember.”

The Rachel Alexandra shot is just one of many that have earned Adam the reputation of following in his father’s footsteps, something Adam says has been a great honor.

Bob took a photo of Secretariat’s convincing 31-length win at Belmont Park to clinch the Triple Crown. The iconic June 9, 1973 image was included in Sports Illustrated’s 100 greatest sports photos of the 20th century magazine, freezing in time jockey Ron Turcotte turning his head only to see the competition trailing far behind toward the top right corner of the frame, while also getting the grandstand in the background.

One of Adam’s keys to success is how he treats each race “like a major deal.”

“I treat every race like the Belmont Stakes,” Adam said. “It’s always rewarding when you take a great photograph. When we shoot Stake races, you use multiple cameras. There’s multiple shooters, but you’re also shooting multiple cameras and when you capture that image you feel rewarded from your effort of setting up different angled shots.”

Since the Coglianese’s became fully digital in 2002, Adam has made it a high priority to obtain the latest equipment on the market. A self-described “gadget freak,” Adam is always on the lookout for the newest camera, lens, printer or computer to stay the most up-to-date.

“I’m very proud of him and he’s actually gone above me because he’s into the newer equipment and he went all digital, which has surpassed any form that I ever did,” said Bob about his son. “Now everything is done on a computer and he initiated all of that and he has improved on it. He does a great job.”

A typical day at the Saratoga Race Course for Adam will include non-stop work from 8:30 a.m. until after the day’s final race.

“Saratoga particularly, there’s events that go on almost every day and they all need to be photographed for NYRA,” said Adam, as he prepared for Fabulous Fillies Day this past Wednesday. I’m not biased toward any one (track), but Saratoga has great light and the summertime is the place to take pictures because things are blooming, the trees are green rather than the dead of winter.”

Being the man behind the lens is something Adam plans on being for a long time to come, having not lost the passion for horseracing photography since that day at Aqueduct when he was 13.

“It’s nice to carry on the name and the tradition that we’ve been here for so many years and that we produce,” Adam said. “We take pride in everything we do here for NYRA and its customers and the owners and trainers and jockeys and it’s a privilege to keep the tradition, the name and the business going.”

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