The theme for the Center’s 2013 John E. Gruber Photography Awards Program is “Creative Images,” and we hope you will show us something new. Many great images from the recent and not so recent past were superior in their time, but they are no longer groundbreaking in today’s creative climate. See what you can do to show us something we have not seen before for the 11th awards program. The sky is the limit, but the photographs must relate to railroad transportation in some way. Awards include significant cash prizes and donations from Canon and Lowepro.
Creativity is a process, not a photo subject in itself. A creative image might be subtle or striking, color or black and white, depict people or machines, a broad landscape or a train in your face, reality or impressionism. For the first time, there are no restrictions on digital alteration or enhancement through postprocessing software such as Photoshop. The judges will be looking for originality, uniqueness, and thoughtful execution, but this does not rule out a good spur-of-the-moment photograph. Specific provisions are:
- All submissions must relate to rail transportation in some way.
- All image submissions will be in digital form, scaled to 1024 pixel count in the larger dimension; e.g., 1024×768 horizontal or 768×1024 vertical.
- Photographers may submit up to 5 images, which must be images of their own.
- Images must be no older than January 2008.
- Photoshop alterations beyond what could be accomplished in a darkroom should be so labeled.
- Contest entry fee is $10 per photographer; Center members may enter without charge.
- First place, $1,000 cash and a printer donated by Canon, a Pixma Pro-10 (maximum print size of 13 by 19 inches, using archival pigment inks)
- Second place, $500 cash and from Lowepro, camera backpack Photo Sport 200 AW
- Third prize, $250 cash and from Lowpro, and a Toploader Pro 65 AW camera bag and lens case 9×13 cm
Photographs, including a selection of honorable mentions, will be displayed at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. Railfan & Railroad magazine will publish the winners, and the photographs will also appear in the fall issue of the Center’s journal, Railroad Heritage.
How to Enter
- The deadline is August 1
- Send your submissions in a single .zip file to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Please include in the body of your email your full name, mailing address, email address, and phone number
- There is a $10 entry fee (use the Paypal button below) to help offset programs costs if you are not a member of the Center; members may enter at no charge (visit the Support page to join now)
- If you are not already a member of the Center, please include your Paypal transaction number with your submission
- If you have questions, get in touch with us at email@example.com
Awards will be announced in September
Noted photographer, author, editor, and preservationist of railroads, John E. Gruber of Madison, Wisconsin, was honored April 14, 2012, by the board of directors of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art—an organization of which he was the principal founder—by having the Center’s awards program named for him.
Now the John E. Gruber Creative Photography Awards Program, the competitive program started in 2002. It is devoted exclusively to contemporary railroad photography and attracts hundreds of entrants annually from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Winning photographs are published in the Center’s journal, Railroad Heritage®, and in Railfan & Railroad magazine, are displayed at the California State Railroad Museum, and appear on this website.
Gruber has been a photography and preservation activist in the railroad community since 1960. His own photography has been published widely, especially in Trains Magazine. “A remarkable, movie-like sequence” of June 18, 1961, photographs showing a Milwaukee Road passenger train passing into and through a tunnel at Tunnel City, Wisconsin, brought him widespread attention in the November issue of Trains that year. In its August 1965 issue, Trains devoted 18 pages and its cover to a Gruber photo story on Chicago’s Union Station—a highly unusual honor. One notable and often reproduced image, “It Could Be a Cathedral,” shows a nun in habit walking alone through the station’s ecclesiastical-looking colonnade.
In 1994, the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society presented Gruber with its Fred A. and Jane R. Stindt Photography Award. From 1995-99, Gruber edited Vintage Rails. In 1997 his intense interest in both photography and preservation, and his concern about the welfare and longevity of amateur and professional photographers’ work, led him to organize the founding of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art.
As an author Gruber has written Classic Steam and is co-author of five other volumes of railroad-related images. He is a prolific writer of magazine articles, and most recently wrote an introductory essay about preservation of railroad equipment for Joel Jensen’s Steam: An Enduring Legacy.
Gruber is easing toward retirement as the Center’s president, now focusing on a 2013 exhibition and accompanying catalog of Chicago railroader portraits by Jack Delano, taken for the Office of War Information in 1942-43 as part of the U.S. government’s efforts to encourage popular support of World War II. The exhibition will be presented in conjunction with the Chicago History Museum in one of its galleries devoted to temporary shows. Gruber and his Center colleagues are seeking descendants and heirs of the portrait subjects. Their stories about them are creating a group biography of Chicago’s highly diverse community of railroaders, representative of railroaders from around the country.