The theme for the 2019 John E. Gruber Creative Photography Awards was “Images of Railroaders.” The panel of judges assessed submissions for creative content and with an eye towards John’s legacy for capturing journalistic images of railroad workers in their environment.
All of us at the Center know that John would be incredibly proud of both the quality and the volume of submissions. This contest received 551 images from 138 photographers–a record number of photographs and the second-highest number of entrants in the awards’ sixteen-year history. In the two categories, 101 photographers submitted 250 black-and-white images, and 117 photographers submitted 301 color images.
Judging for the 2019 Gruber Awards was the most difficult process in recent years due to the large number of outstanding images. The judges spent many hours over multiple days analyzing and discussing the submissions. Selecting winners was almost overwhelming due to the numerous possibilities, and the judges regret that they had to narrow the field to so few. One judge said, “There were many, many great images submitted and not listed here.”
Images of Railroaders, Black-and-White Winners:
- First Place: Miško Kranjec, Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Second Place: Jeffrey Mast, Canton, Michigan
- Third Place: Dennis Livesey, New York City
Images of Railroaders, Color Winners:
- First Place: Blair Kooistra, Fort Worth, Texas
- Second Place: Ryan James Gaynor, Millgrove, Ontario, Canada
- Third Place: Bryan Bechtold, Denver, Colorado
The first-, second-, and third-prize winners in each category will receive cash prizes of $500, $300, and $200, respectively. Each photographer recognized in the “Judges Also Liked” category will receive a free one-year subscription to Railroad Heritage. As in recent years, the California State Railroad Museum will exhibit the winning photographs, and Railfan & Railroad magazine will publish an article.
Miško Kranjec’s stunning portrait of a Slovenian fireman cleaning the ashpan of his locomotive after a hard run takes first place. Perfectly composed and exposed, the image is notable for the expression it conveys; the man’s face seems to match the grit of the locomotive.
Jeffrey Mast’s wide-angle view of the engineer and fireman of Pere Marquette 1225 takes second place. The unique perspective captures both the engineer at the throttle and silhouetted fireman in a vantage from just outside the cab. The view looks down the boiler, which is enveloped in its own steam and flying snow at the start of a North Pole Express run.
Dennis Livesey’s perfectly-captured steam at speed pacing or panned shot of Reading & Northern 425 takes third place. Blurred background and foreground vegetation form a perfect frame for this scene of a father and son in the window and gangway.
Blair Kooistra’s symphony of line, form, color, and texture depicting a Chicago CTA train takes first place. Framing the train with the aged and weathered “El” structure draws the eye right to the motorman. Noting the peeling painting, visitors may want to avoid standing beneath the structure.
Ryan Gaynor’s twilight capture of a CN conductor in the rain takes second place. This image is a standout for its deep, contrasting colors and the positioning of the employee in the beam of the headlights.
Bryan Bechtold’s striking view of a Nevada Northern derrick and workman takes third place. Flat lighting enhances the shadow details on the complex machinery and compliments the pastel sky.