Archive for December 2015

Heart and Soul In Railroad Photography

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.


To get better at any creative pursuit, you have to keep pushing your own boundaries and pre-conceived notions of what you can do artistically. Since creativity comes from within, it’s very difficult to evaluate your own work and make an honest assessment on what you are doing, much less if it’s interesting and worthwhile.

An important part of learning and growing, is getting feedback on your work. Good feedback makes you think about how to make your images stronger, technically and artistically. It asks you to challenge your assumptions…you may not agree with every comment or thought, but that will force you to think about what you are doing.

“Keep your mind open. You may very well learn something new about yourself and your pictures.” – Jay Maisel

“Be Creative” and Be Better

This week, the Center for Railroad Photography & Art announced the winners of Be Creative”, their annual themed photography awards competition and seeing the final selection is always a treat for anyone interested in creative railroad photography.

While I don’t always agree with the order of the top choices, I generally find that the judges have made some good selections in what must be a difficult process. Photography is subjective and what constitutes good creative photography is more so. The top award went to Matthew Malkiewicz, a choice that I agree with, as it’s a wonderfully creative image in vision and execution and is a real pleasure to look at.

Two of my five submitted images were picked as Judges Also Liked selections. Like anyone entering, I would have been thrilled to receive one of the top three awards, but I am honored to be selected in this esteemed group of fellow photographers. I have gotten to know many of these individuals over the years and I’m happy for every one of them. Getting an honor like this is encouraging to any creative person and feeds the fire to be better.

“If your any good at all, you know that you can be better….”   – Lindsey Buckingham