Two of my favorite photographers of the railroad scene are Richard Steinheimer and Jim Shaughnessy. They both sought a holistic view of the railroad scene and found interesting angles and scenes that deviated from the norm of focusing on equipment. They recognized that the equipment was just one small part of a vast economic transportation system that includes locomotives and trains, but also the right of way, infrastructure, place and most importantly people.
People operate the railroad, but are also the community that the railroad serves and operates within, whether as shippers, receivers, residents along the rails, or as travelers. These photographers saw that connection and by including it, broadened their possibilities for creative images and put heart into railroad photography.