What is wrong with shooting on train tracks?

What is wrong with shooting on train tracks?

We are well into 2020 and it is already time for another near miss story about a photographer taking photos of a family on an active train track. diyphotography.net is reporting today on a story that has become all too familiar. We in the photography community need to do out part to spread the word about rail safety. Readers of my blog will be well aware of my negative stance on this topic. The family in this video are incredibly lucky, seconds before the train thunders through the frame, the children are aimlessly playing on the tracks. This is very easily a day that could have ended in tragedy.

Here are some thoughts on shooting on train tracks:

1. It is illegal. Train tracks even if they are presumed abandoned are on private property, and even sneaking onto them for a quick shot is trespassing.

2. There is no reason to place yourself or your clients in harm’s way to get a cliche’ cheesy portrait. Find someplace else to shoot, and if your clients insist on shooting at the tracks, turn down the gig. The model on the train tracks or road is so played out and overdone. If you insist on shooting this type of photo, at least make sure to bracket your shot so you can deliver the image in overdone grungy HDR – oh and don’t forget selective color while you are at it.

3. People are watching. Many of the corporations that own these tracks are installing cameras and monitor them 24/7. You and your client can be arrested for trespassing – how is that going to look on your yelp reviews?

4. Not only are you putting your life and the lives of your clients at risk, but you are also going to ruin the lives of the poor folks running the train if they run your dumb ass over.


If you would like more information about rail safety, please take a look at Operation Lifesaver at: https://oli.org/ and if you are a photographer, for goodness sake please stop shooting on train tracks whether you think they are safe or not. Imagine if the photographer in this story was there and one of those children would have been hit and killed by the train, like the senior portrait shooter last year. Not only would it ruin you emotionally, but do you think that when the family sued you that you would stand a chance of not losing everything? As the photographer, you are the director/leader at the shoot, and if you agreed/suggested to shoot on an active track you are sunk and have no leg to stand on legally.

We photographers are the only ones who can make this better. Educate yourself and your clients about the dangers of shooting on rails, active or not. A simple Google search will give you all the ammunition you need about near misses and fatalities when shooting on train tracks, even Hollywood blockbusters with a large crew of people watching the tracks have lost people.

Even if you shoot on tracks regularly, and have convinced yourself that you or someone else you are working with that day will hear the train coming, You wont.

Hey! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to contact me via my social media sites I would love to hear your thoughts on this or any of my other articles! Until then, get out and get shooting! 

My Photography site: http://www.tahquechi.com/

My Bodyscapes project: http://www.bodyscapes.photography/

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Here is a link to the original article on diyphotography.com by John Akdred