Joe's out of town and here's a list for everyone!!! HAHAHAHA!! Although it is a short list, it's a bit on the serious side and I've been giving a lot of thought about this one because it kind of hit close to home because of the seriousness of it. Read on please!!
A lot of clients wonder why I don't do those photos on train tracks. Well, there's a few yet very important reasons.
1 - First and foremost, they're dangerous! Not only for me, they're dangerous for the clients!
Since I've started doing photography, there is notices that go out every year about photographers, clients, or someone trying to get photos on tracks getting killed. Not just the fact of so many get killed, many twist their ankles and injured or get caught in the rails all the time. Where we think that trains around here are running straight, they in fact do not run on straight, and you aren't completely visible on the tracks. There are bends, trees, hills, etc that obstruct the conductor's view of you as well as your view and the sound of the train quickly coming your way. You might think it's an obvious one to mention, NOT to take photos with a train coming full force behind you!! YET, I feel it is worth mentioning!
In fact, another notice just was released late last month about another young 25 year old photographer getting killed photographing a model on a railroad track. You can see the information about what happened here.
Roughly every three hours in the U.S., a person or vehicle is hit by a train. -Operation Lifesaver
2 - Here's another reason that I don't take photos on train tracks, it's ILLEGAL!!
I could get a $10,000 fine AND so could my clients who are on the train tracks!! On top of a possible arrest record, and I know I don't want that and none of my clients do either!
3 - What about those "dead tracks" or "personally" owned pieces?
Well, I suppose IF we get permission to be on them, and IF we pay the fees, (that are usually QUITE expensive on the dead tracks), then great! Just don't expect me to be posting them, because I don't want to encourage young photographers, or inexperienced hobby photographers to think it's "ok" to shoot on any train track. However, it's usually next to impossible to get access to any of these tracks, I just wouldn't recommend it. And honestly, I don't want to chance trespassing or any fines on any private property without written permission, do you?
4 - These 6 reasons listed by FRA's "Operation Lifesaver"
- Trains can’t stop quickly to avoid people or vehicles on the tracks.
- An optical illusion makes it hard to determine a train's distance from you - and its speed.
- The average train overhangs the track by at least three feet.
- Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and rights-of-way are private property.
- No tracks should be assumed to be abandoned or inactive.
- People in your community mimic your behavior.
5 - SAFETY -
ONE of my top priorities of any shoot is safety!! As a true professional it should be especially if I am dealing with little ones!! Not only for the OH so many safety concerns ALREADY listed, (haven't I listed ENOUGH!?!?!?!), do you realize how many chemicals and etc are used on those tracks? Those chemicals get on your shoes, your clothes if you sit on or near them? Then it's transferred to whomever you are touching, holding, cuddling, etc? Yeah, notsomuch! Think about it if you have a little one in your family, or worse yet a little one that has severe allergies!
6 - Last but not least - WHY?!?!?! just WHY?!?!?!
There is SO MUCH beautiful country here in Wyoming, South Dakota, and Montana that I really haven't seen the need to shoot on train tracks.
On to the hard part:
Educating our clients, friends, families, fellow photographers and High School seniors that take their friend's photos, that taking pictures on the tracks is not only dangerous, but also illegal.
About Operation Lifesaver...
Operation Lifesaver's mission is to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and along railroad rights of way. A national network of trained volunteers provides free presentations on rail safety. For more information or to request a free safety presentation, visit www.oli.org ;
follow OLI on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and Instagram!
Anyone can anonymously REPORT IT and here's how...
If your state's OLI has a facebook page, then send a private message asking them how they prefer to be notified of a photographer who is shooting on the tracks.
Send the state coordinator a direct link to the photo's location and any contact information you may have on the photographer or organization using the image. If your state coordinator does not have a Facebook page, then send an email as that should also be listed in the OLI link above. (Some coordinators prefer email, others don't have a preference.)
OLI will NOT reveal how or who reported the image. They will contact the photographer or organization directly, fully educate them of the dangers, legal issues and how displaying such images encourages this behavior in others, and they may even choose to contact the railway company to let them make the decision on any action they would also like to take.
Prefer to APPROACH & EDUCATE them yourself?
Here's few links to copy and paste to share with them and help back up your statement and reasons for concern.
- OLI article regarding Photography on Tracks: http://oli.org/news/view/operation-lifesaver-urges-professional-photographers-to-stay-safe-stay-away
- Railroad Safety for Photographers: http://digital-photography-school.com/railroad-safety-photographers
- BNSF Railway Co Targets Photographers: http://mtstandard.com/news/local/railroad-targets-trespassers/article_aff356ea-e8e0-11e1-b5ff-001a4bcf887a.html
- Amtrak's Policy on Photography on Tracks: http://www.amtrak.com/photography-video-recording-policy
- Union Pacific's Policy on Photography on Tracks: http://www.up.com/aboutup/community/safety/safety_policies/photo-video_policy/index.htm
OK! SOOOOOOOOOOOO Someone might see this and say "You're saying "report it" and that's BAD!! Ummmmmm NO!! I'm saying report them to someone who will EDUCATE THEM!!! Not FINE them or arrest them!! READ my blog!! Read WHO I'm sending them to!! I'm sending them to someone who will HELP educate them and teach them about what the dangers are and what COULD happen!! If you make the decision to have OLI (Operation Lifesaver) educate them. That is what they do. Educate. Nothing more. OLI would make the decision if the individual has done anything extreme enough to warrant any further action, not YOU. And if you have any questions on what the OLI do, ASK them!! They are a WEALTH of information!!