Like most people with a camera, I am tempted from time to time to take pictures of flowers. There are lots of flowers around, they are all beautiful and it is easy to take a good picture of them. One might say that it is hard to take a bad flower picture. Even technically flawed photos of flowers—out of focus or motion blurred—often work in an abstract sort of way. What I learned though, is that it is very difficult to take a really outstanding photograph of a flower. Trains are like flowers in that respect. It is relatively easy to take a good train picture, much more difficult to take a truly great one. So the question becomes, "What else?" What else does a photograph need to get beyond a "good" picture? How do I tell the story and put the subject in context. How can I go deeper and make the shot more expressive, with every element in the frame contributing to the meaning of the shot? For me, studying the work of other photographers and artists helps answer those questions. Sometimes I hear people say they never look at the work of other photographers because they don't want to be "influenced." Nonsense! In his book, "Why People Photograph," the photographer Robert Adams says: "Your own photography is never enough. Every photographer who has lasted has depended on other people's pictures too--photographs that may be public or private, but that carry with them the reminder of community." There are many great photographers in the railfan community and I learn from them everyday. Without that inspiration, I would probably just stick to shooting flowers.
Edd Fuller, Editor – Photograph and text copyright 2017