I’ve been seeing more & more railroad pics pop up lately. I myself have shot sessions on railroads tracks in the past. But I’d like to pass along a couple things I’ve learned, and why I no longer shoot on railroad tracks.
1. All railroad tracks (live or dead) are private property. You’re trespassing if you’re taking pictures on them, yes even if they cross a public street. It’s illegal.
2. It’s not worth the risk to get “the shot”. There are so many instances where pictures have been taken on RR tracks and someone has been injured, or worse.. someone has died…
There is a group Operation Lifesaver Inc., dedicated to awareness of taking images on Railroad Tracks, and I encourage you all to think before you shoot. http://oli.org/news/view/operation-lifesaver-urges-professional-photographers-to-stay-safe-stay-away
Roughly every three hours in the U.S., a person or vehicle is hit by a train. -Operation Lifesaver
Need more? Here are 6 reasons the FRA’s “Operation Lifesaver” lists as to why you should never have a Portrait Session on the Train Tracks.
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.
“Well, what about those tracks that aren’t being used by trains often or at all?”
Those are called DEAD tracks. And as it states on the FRA’s website, ALL tracks, live or dead, are PRIVATE PROPERTY and you are ILLEGALLY TRESPASSING by doing anything other than legally crossing tracks via a marked roadway, etc.
It’s the same thing with any client from newborn to adult. As a photographer our clients safety during a session is our responsibility. We’re sure to have a spotter for newborns (if not you should!), Let’s be sure to be just as safe with clients of all ages.
How important is the shot, really? I encourage you to think outside the box, and impress your clients with your creativity OFF the railroad tracks, away from danger whatever it may be.