The Center for Railroad Photography and Art presented its $1,000 national photography award for 2002 to Michael Rosenthal of Rutherford, New Jersey. This award, the first given by the Center, is for photos taken in 2000-02. The awards panel picked the top photos from 32 entries.
Honorable mentions went to Howard Ande, Bartlett, Illinois; Steve Crise, Los Angeles, California; and Gordon Osmundson, Oakland, California.
Rosenthal’s entry shows a sharply defined style, and demonstrated creative, technical, and interpretative excellence in railroad photography. Rather than settling for derivative work, Rosenthal’s photographs show he’s looking for a new way to make a very old subject come alive. We particularly like his willingness to explore railroads in a dense urban setting, using existing lighting and electronic flash to capture the brilliant colors, sharp contrast, and geometric forms of modernity.
Rosenthal, 36, a native of New Jersey, joined NJ TRANSIT as a photographer in 2000. His father and uncle were amateur photographers, nurturing an early interest in photography. “My father bought me my first camera, a Kodak 120 cartridge camera, to take on our family trip to Florida. I considered photography as only a hobby as I pursued my degree in Architecture (1990) from North Carolina State University’s School of Design (now the College of Design) and the Parsons School of Design in Paris, France,” Rosenthal said. “Upon returning to the U.S., I found my fascination with the camera was becoming a vocation. I began my career assisting several professional Manhattan photographers, and continued to gain experience and developing portfolios before joining NJ TRANSIT.”