Posts Tagged ‘Center for Railroad Photography and Art’

Photo Conference Registration Underway

February 21, 2021

Registrations are being accepted for the annual Conversations conference to be held online by the Center for Railroad Photography & Art.

The event will be held on April 10 between 9:50 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. CDT and hosted on a Cisco Webex platform.

There is no charge for registration but registrants have the option of making a donation.

Scheduled presenters and their programs include: Patrick Cashin, New York MTA; William Gill, night photography; Jonathan Glancey and Ian Logan, authors of Logomotive: Railroad Graphics and the American Dream; Erik C. Lindgren, photography and art from Colorado railroads; Jeff Mast, photography of John Bjorkland; Kevin Scanlon and Kevin Tomasic, railroads and the art of place in Pennsylvania and West Virginia; and Yoichi Uzeki, New York City and Tokyo

To register, go to

‘Connections’ is Photo Contest Theme for 2020

April 23, 2020

“Connections” is the theme of the 2020 John E. Gruber Creative Photography Awards Program being sponsored by the Center for Railroad Photography & Art.

The center said in announcing the competition that the theme is open to each individual’s interpretation related in some manner to railroading.

Photographers are invited to submit up to three images that were made within the past five years.

The deadline for submissions is May 1 and winners will be notified by Aug. 1.

Each submission must include the location, date and basic caption information. Other required information includes the name of the photographer along with a mailing address, email address and phone number

Images should be submitted as high-resolution jpeg digital files with a pixel dimension of at least 3000 on one side of the image. The image must not be watermarked.

Files must be submitted electronically via email at or a sharing service such as Dropbox and WeTransfer.

The Center reserves the right to retain electronic copies for future publication, use on its website, on Facebook and other social media, or for public exhibition.

Photographers will retain the copyright to all submitted images In all cases, the photographer retains the copyright to the image.

Prizes include $750 for the first place image, $500 for second place and $250 for third place.

Images that are awarded “judges also liked” status will receive a one-year subscription to Railroad Heritage magazine.

All winners will be published in the Fall 2020 issue of Railroad Heritage. Railfan & Railroad magazine will publish the winners in a fall issue.

The California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento will display a gallery exhibition of the winners, as well as several selections from the “judges also liked” category.

The competition is named for the late John Gruber, who was the founder of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art.

Photography Center to Move Event Online

March 23, 2020

The Center for Railroad Photography and Art will host an online free conference on April 18.

The event is in part intended to replace an event had been scheduled for April 17-19 that was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Virtual Conversations event will require registration on the center’s website.

“Our community still has so many stories to tell and images to share, and digital technology provides us more ways to connect now than ever before. So the show will go on,” the center said.

Additional details about the conference will be released later.

Railroad Photography Conference Canceled

March 17, 2020

A conference on railroad photography that was to have been held in mid April has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Center for Railroad Photography & Art has scrubbed “Conversations 2020,” which had been scheduled to be held April 17-19 at Lake Forest College in suburban Chicago.

The Center said it canceled the conference after receiving guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that gatherings of 50 or more people should be avoided for the next eight weeks.

The Center said it will seek to bring in to next year conference as possible of this year’s scheduled presenters as it can.

Those who have already purchased tickets should consult the Center’s website for refund information.

Railroad Photography Conference Set for April

January 18, 2020

The Center for Railroad Photography & Art will hold a three-day conference April 17-19 in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Known as Conversations 2020, the conference will be held at Lake Forest College, which is a co-sponsor of the event, located 30 miles north of downtown Chicago.

The conference will begin on Friday evening with a reception at 5 p.m. in the Glenn Rowan House followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. in Calvin Durand Hall.

Following dinner, Norm Carlson will give a presentation about Chicago rail commuter railroad Metra.

Saturday’s events include presentations, breakfast, lunch, an evening reception with drinks and appetizers, and dinner.

On Sunday the conference will conclude with presentations from 8:30 a.m. to noon in the McCormick Auditorium of the Lillard Science Center.

The scheduled presented and their topics are: Patrick Cashin (MTA), Steve Crise (photographing trains large and small), Phil Hawkins (railway art from the United Kingdom), Kevin P. Keefe (photography of J. Parker Lamb), Dennis Livesey (retrospective of his photography),  Mark Llanuza (then-and-now photographs of abandoned railroads in the Midwest plus recent work from Metra),  Sammuel Phillips (contemporary photography from Appalachia), and Dennis Ziemienski (rail art from the West).

Short presentations will also be given by the conference docents.

Conference attendees are asked to send after purchasing a ticket one of their recent photographs, preferably from the past year, for inclusion in a presentation of attendees’ photographs.

Tickets for the conference will range in price depending on whether an attendee is a member of the center and when they register.

For members, early registration (through Jan. 31) will be $120. Regular registration (Feb. 1 through March 27) and late registration is $160.

Non-member registration fees are $120 (early), $190 (regular) and $210 (late). Student registration fees are $50 regardless of when they register.

The registration fee does not cover the Friday dinner ($70) or Saturday banquet ($40). Student dinner fees are $25 for Friday and $20 for Saturday.

Up to four scholarships, funded by conference patrons, are available for young, new, and/or emerging photographers and artists to cover ticket prices, two nights of lodging (double occupancy), and partial travel expenses to and from the conference.

The deadline to apply for a scholarship is Feb. 21.

Further information is available at

CRPA&A Moves to New Home

January 17, 2020

The Center for Railroad Photography & Art will move into a new office today in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Center said it has outgrown its current location.

The new office is located at 1930 Monroe Street and will provide room we need to grow as needed.

The Center’s original offices were located at 1914 Monroe, Suite 301, Madison, WI 57311,

In a notice posted on the Center’s website it said that it may take additional time to respond to requests as it settles into its new home.

Railroad Photography Contest Theme Announced

December 31, 2019

The Center for Railroad Photography and Art has announced that “connections” is the theme of its 2020 John E. Gruber Creative Photography Awards Program.

Entries are due by May 1, 2020, with winners to be notified on Aug. 1.

Submitted photographs must have been made within the past five years. There is a limit of three images per photographer.

All submissions must be in a digital format.

The contest theme is subject to each photographer’s interpretation, which must be related in some manner to railroading.

The first place entry will win $750 while second place will receive $500 and third place $250. Entries that are placed in the “judges also liked category will receive a one-year subscription to Railroad Heritage magazine.

For more information go to

R&LHS Announces Grant Award Winners

December 27, 2019

The Center for Railroad Photography and Art has received a research grant from the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society that the center will use to continue a program to bring railroad photographs to a broader audience.

The $2,500 grant was awarded through the William D. Middleton Research Fellowship and follows up on earlier funding provided last year for the research and curation efforts on the project, known as After Promontory: 150 Years of Transcontinental Railroading.

The Center, based in Madison, Wisconsin, is seeking to expand its traveling exhibition and related programming.

The R&LHS also announced that author Tony Reevy of Durham, North Carolina, won the John H. White, Jr. Research Fellowship of $2,250 to be used for researching material for a book on the railroad photography of the late Philip R. Hastings that is expected to be released in fall 2022.

Durham has a contract with Indiana University Press to publish the book, which will feature the best of Hastings’ photography that has never been published.

In a news release announcing the awarding of the grant, R&LHS noted that Hastings is the most notable American railroad-subject photographer of the mid-20th century who has not yet been profiled in a book.

Reevy, who is director of development for North Carolina State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues, has published books titled O. Winston Link: Life Along the Line – A Photographic Portrait of America’s Last Great Steam Railroad (Abrams, 2012) and The Railroad Photography of Jack Delano (Indiana University Press, 2015).

Cincinnati Union Terminal Tribute Programs Set

October 20, 2018

Two programs featuring photography of Cincinnati Union Terminal by former Trains magazine managing editor Wallace W. Abbey have been set in early November.

The programs will be presented by George W. Hamlin.

Titled Wally Abbey Visits Cincinnati Union Terminal, the programs will feature background on CUT and the railroads and trains that served it.

Abbey, who died in 2014, wrote an article about CUT that was published in the May 1953 issue of Trains.

His collection of 25,000 black and white negatives and 8,000 color slides is now housed at the Center for Railroad Photography & Art.

One presentation will be given during the Nov. 1 meeting of the Cincinnati Railroad Club at Harmony Lodge. More information is available at

Another presentation will be hosted on Nov. 2 by the Miami Valley Railfans at the West Carrollton Civic Center at 7 p.m.

During that presentation, club member David Oroszi will show photos of CUT from his collection. For more information, go to

John Gruber was Influenced by the Work of Photojournalists and Brought That to Railroad Photography

October 11, 2018

Wednesday, Oct. 10, was a slow day for railroad news. Oh, there was news made and reported, but none of it involved railroad operations in the region that I cover for the Akron Railroad Club blog.

Among the news items on Wednesday was an obituary for John Gruber, 82, of Madison, Wisconsin, a noted railroad photographer and founder of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art.

I wasn’t going to report Gruber’s death on the ARRC blog because I wasn’t sure most ARRC members would know who he is even if they might have seen his work.

But I was intrigued when former Trains editor Kevin Keefe wrote in a tribute that Gruber had pioneered a “daring new approach to photographing the railroad scene.”

That got my attention. What was it? How was it daring?

It turns out that Gruber was an early practitioner of using a telephoto lens to, as Keefe put it, practice the art of “getting up close and personal with professional railroaders.”

This wasn’t something that Gruber thought of on his own but rather was the byproduct of the influence of newspaper photographers.

Keefe wrote that Dick Sroda of the Wisconsin State Journal and Jim Stanfield of the Milwaukee Journal inspired Gruber to go beyond what he was seeing in Trains magazine.

“It was a time when press photographers and journalists were interested in what people were doing,” Gruber once said. “I saw this as an underrepresented area of railroad photography, and I took advantage of every opportunity to document railroad people at work, rather than concentrating on equipment.”

Gruber may have built a career on people-oriented photographs, but it is not a philosophy that has caught on with most rank and file railfan photographers.

Most railfans are fixated on the equipment, particularly the lead locomotive of a train. The people working on the train, riding the train, or watching the train are an afterthought if they are thought about at all.

That is particularly true of spectators and bystanders. We’ve all heard someone lament that a railfan or a daisy picker got into an otherwise pristine image of an oncoming train. I’ve griped about that myself at times.

Although I never considered myself a photojournalist per se, I did engage in the practice during my early years in the newspaper industry.

At small town newspapers you need to make photographs as well as conduct interviews and write stories.

News organizations spend a lot of time writing about the behavior of organizations. They also report a lot of staid news about people in organizations, much of it focusing on such things as the work history of someone who was just named to a position such as vice president.

That information can be contrived and lacking a sense of authenticity even if it is rooted in reality.

But it’s the moments when people are captured acting naturally that most excites photojournalists. To capture those moments on film or megapixels takes practice, some training, and patience. In time it becomes something that you just do.

John Gruber is not the only railroad photographer who took a journalistic mindset into his work and he probably wasn’t the first.

But it became his trademark or brand to use a current buzzword.

His first photograph published in Trains featured shivering railfans photographing an excursion on the North Shore interurban line at Northbrook, Illinois, in February 1960.

That led to a friendship with legendary Trains editor David P. Morgan, who published many of Gruber’s photographs. The two would go on to become traveling companions.

Keefe wrote that Morgan would later say about Gruber that he was always “on top of the action, however unexpected and regardless of the hour. His pictures tell it like it was.”

Gruber never worked as a newspaper man, opting instead to take a job in publications and public relations at the University of Wisconsin, a position he held for 35 years.

But you don’t have to be a professional journalist to understand and practice the principles of photojournalism.

Aside from his work for the university, Gruber was an editor of the Gazette of the Mid-Continent Railway Museum.

In 1995 he began editing Vintage Rails, a magazine about railroad history and culture published by Pentrex.

After Pentrex shut that publication down four years later, Gruber moved on to organize the Center for Railroad Photography & Art, which has its own magazine and hosts an annual conference known as “Conversations.”

“I had become curious about railroad photographers — who they were, their backgrounds, their ideas about photography,” Gruber said of why he created the organization.

Other than magazine articles, Gruber wrote or co-wrote a number of books, including Travel by Train: The American Railroad Poster, 1870-1950 (with Michael Zega); Classic Steam; and Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography

In 1994, the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society presented Gruber its Senior Achievement Award.

You sometimes hear railroad photographers describe one of their images as having been inspired by a well-known photographer such as Philip R. Hastings, Richard Steinheimer, David Plowden or Jim Shaughnessy.

None of the images presented above were inspired by John Gruber as such. But I’d like to think that he’d appreciate them and understand why I made them.

They were all made on the same day on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and none were planned. They were just moments I saw and was nimble enough to capture. More often than not instinct takes over when these opportunities present themselves.

The top image was made at Boston Mill before a photo runby featuring Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765.

I don’t know who that boy is. He might be the son of the engineer or another members of the locomotive crew. But this experience is one he will never forget and one that many children and even adults are not fortunate enough to have.

The middle image was a grab shot of a passenger sitting in one of the open-window cars in the steam excursion. I did intend to make images of passengers watching out those windows, but you don’t know what you will get.

This guy’s demeanor captures the joy of riding an excursion, particularly one behind a big steam locomotive.

The bottom image was made at Botzum station of a CVSR engineer working the northbound National Park Scenic.

It’s one of those countless moments that unfold on the CVSR or any other passenger railroad every day. And yet it tells a story, even if only a small one, of life on the railroad.

I can’t think of a better way to pay tribute to Gruber than to post the type of images he devoted his life to making.