Images of Railroaders: 2019 John E. Gruber Creative Photography Awards Program

Theme

The theme of the 2019 awards program is “Images of Railroaders,” with categories for both color and black-and-white work. At left, a Milwaukee Road worker waves during a station stop at Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. At right, a Chicago & North Western conductor shakes hands with a passenger at Madison, Wisconsin. Photographs by John Gruber

“Images of Railroaders” is the theme for the 2019 John E. Gruber Creative Photography Awards. The theme honors the life and work of John Gruber, 1936–2018, who cofounded the Center for Railroad Photography & Art in 1997 and served as its president until 2013. The Center’s board of directors renamed this awards program in John’s honor in 2012, and he served as a judge each year until his death.

“Railroaders” was a common theme in John’s life, from his decades of photography of railroad workers to his research and writing that showcased and contextualized the contributions of rail labor. He was always interested in the people behind the machines and their personal stories and struggles.

We solicit entries for two categories, color and black-and-white, with a maximum of three submissions per category. There is no time limit on when the images were captured. The panel of three judges is looking for innovation, high visual impact, and storytelling in the spirit of John Gruber. The deadline for submissions is April 15, 2019, and we will announce the winners on June 1, 2019.

Please note that no awards program was held in 2018 due to John Gruber’s death.

Deadline and entering

The deadline for both categories is April 15, 2019.

  • Any interested photographer may enter images in both categories, and there is no entry fee
  • Please make only one submission, by email, to:
    award [at] railphoto-art [dot] org
  • Submissions are limited to three images per category, with no limitations on dates of creation
  • In the body text of your email, you must include your name, physical mailing address, and phone number
  • Also in the body text of your email, please include basic caption information of location and date for each photograph (please send this in the body text of your email and not as an attached document)
  • Please do not watermark your images—we require clean images, without watermarks, for both judging and display purposes
  • We will announce the winners on June 1, 2019

Please get in touch via the above email address if you have any questions about your submission.

A trainman on the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee prepares to raise the trolley pole as the train transitions from third-rail to overhead catenary for power. Photograph by John Gruber

Prizes

Prizes will be awarded in both categories as follows:

  • First place: $500
  • Second place: $250
  • Third place: $100
  • Judges also liked: one-year membership in the Center

Winning photographs and selections that the “judges also liked” will be published in both Railroad Heritage® and Railfan & Railroad magazines, as well as on the Center’s website and social media platforms. The Center will also mount an exhibition of the awards program at the California State Railroad Museum.

A trainman on the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee prepares to raise the trolley pole as the train transitions from third-rail to overhead catenary for power. Photograph by John Gruber

Permissions

By entering the program, you claim full ownership and copyright to all submitted works. As the photographer you will maintain full copyright to your submitted images. By entering, you agree that, if any of your images are selected for recognition in the awards program, the Center may:

  • Publish those images on our website, on our social media platforms including Flickr, and in Railroad Heritage®, our quarterly journal
  • Use your images to promote the awards program in both print and electronic advertising
  • Present your images at our conferences and display them in exhibitions

Finally, you also agree that Railfan & Railroad magazine may print your images in a future issue at their then-current rate for publication.

A trainman on the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee prepares to raise the trolley pole as the train transitions from third-rail to overhead catenary for power. Photograph by John Gruber

Tech specs

For both categories, we will accept digital camera JPEG files as well as scans of prints, slides, or negatives saved as JPEGs.

  • Files from digital cameras should be full-size, at least six megapixels (3,000 x 2,000 pixels).
  • 35mm slides or negatives should be scanned at a resolution of at least 2,400 pixels per inch (ppi).
  • Scanned prints should be at least 8×10 inches and scanned at 300 ppi or higher.
  • Please limit any digital manipulation to traditional darkroom printing techniques such as dodging and burning, or adjustments to brightness and contrast. We rely on your honesty and the judges’ opinions.

Given the size of the files, you may send them in separate emails or include a link to a file-sharing site such as Dropbox, WeTransfer, or Google Drive, but please send all of your entries at the same time.

A trainman on the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee prepares to raise the trolley pole as the train transitions from third-rail to overhead catenary for power. Photograph by John Gruber