Call for Submissions: Railroad Photography and Art During the Covid-19 Pandemic

We have a question for you: how have you, as a railroad photographer or railroad artist, continued to practice your art during a time of pandemic and unrest? Our hope is to come together as a community, and share with each other how we are responding to the situations that we all face.

Tell us—and show us—what you have been doing for the past three or four months. Have you been out photographing the masked employees who daily risk their health to keep our rail transit running? Have you turned to photographing empty stations or abandoned places? Are you sticking close to home, rediscovering your local railways, or are you engaged in the ultimate social distancing, and camping alone with your camera in very remote places? Have you been in your studio, working more than ever on drawings and paintings, or at home organizing your old negatives, prints, and slides? Are you researching in books or online, examining photographs of relief trains during the 1918 Influenza outbreak, or studying portraits of Pullman Porters?

We’re looking for short stories⁠—250 to 500 words⁠—that answer one or more of these sorts of questions. Tell us what you have been working on through this moment. Show us, too, with a few images of what you’ve been working on, whether it’s of a train in a wild and lonely place, or your studio with a half-finished painting on the easel.

We want to see what you are already doing, rather than ask you to make new work. Because of that, our deadline is short: please get us your submission by July 15.

Submission Process

To participate, please submit the following materials to submissions@railphoto-art.org:

  • Electronic submissions only. Files can be sent via email, Dropbox, WeTransfer, etc.
  • A first-person description of what you have been doing, between 250 and 500 words
  • 1-3 accompanying images, with location, date, and basic caption information; images should be high-resolution JPEG files with a pixel dimension of at least 3,000 on one side.
  • Text, captions, and contact information may be sent in a document (Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, or PDF) or in the body of an email.
  • Be sure to include your name, mailing address, email address, and phone number.

The Center will publish selected stories and images in a future issue of Railroad Heritage, online, or in another appropriate format. The Center reserves the right to retain electronic copies for future publication, use on website, Facebook and other social media, or for public exhibition. In all cases, the photographer retains the copyright to the image.

Send all submissions by July 15 to submissions@railphoto-art.org

A Wisconsin & Southern freight train cuts through downtown Madison, Wisconsin, on June 4, 2020. In normal times, John Nolen Drive at right would be much busier with morning commuter traffic. Aerial photograph by Scott Lothes

In The Studio With Adam Normandin: Living With Trains And Life With Art

Tuesday, June 30, 2020
7:00-8:00 P.M. (U.S. Central), on Cisco Webex

Available now on Youtube

Join artist Adam Normandin in an exploration of his work, influences, and studio.

Normandin is a contemporary realist painter living and working in Los Angeles. His paintings depict undoctored freight train cars as they appear in yards, often covered in graffiti or resting in desolate settings. Through his work, Normandin looks to examine the notion of space, purpose, and the passing of time, and the exploration of interconnectedness and transience of humanity.

Adam Normandin poses with Visitor, 2018, oil & acrylic on canvas, 44 x 96 inches

ANNOUNCEMENT: Fall conference

Due to the ongoing concerns and challenges surrounding the global health situation, we are rescheduling Conversations Northeast at the University of Connecticut from September 19, 2020, to a Saturday to be determined in Fall 2021.

We are now planning to offer an online conference on Saturday, September 19. Registrations will open on June 29. Stay tuned for details.

We hope to “see” you virtually on September 19, and in-person next fall in Storrs, Connecticut.


Erie Lackawanna east of New Milford, Pennsylvania, on October 18, 1974. Photograph by John F. Bjorklund, Bjorklund-54-27-24

Archives and Preservation resources

We hosted an archives and preservation Q&A with Adrienne Evans, our archivist, on Tuesday evening, May 19. Adrienne fielded dozens of questions about our collections and best practices for the archiving and preservation of analog as well as digital photographs. More than 130 people tuned in live, and you can watch a recording of the session on our YouTube channel.

Adrienne also prepared a list of resources that you can download here. We are already planning another online presentation about archives and perseveration as well as additional online programming throughout the summer. Stay tuned for details!

CRP&A Archives and Preservation Q&A

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
7:00-8:00 P.M. (U.S. Central)
Hosted by Adrienne Evans, CRP&A Archivist on Cisco Webex

Registration is closed.

CRP&A Archivist Adrienne Evans will answer your questions! Curious about the basics of photography archiving and preservation? Submit your questions to Adrienne to expand your knowledge and to learn more about becoming a better caretaker for your photographic materials.

Submit your archive-related questions to info@railphoto-art.org by end of day on Monday, May 11 to have them considered. Adrienne will answer as many questions as she can within the 60-minute time slot. Any additional time will be opened to questions in the Q&A feature on Cisco Webex.

Deadline for registration: Friday, May 15

Prior to the event date please register for a Cisco Webex Account. It is free to sign up.

We will send out a link for the meeting on Monday, May 18 by email. Please click on the link and sign into your Webex account on Tuesday, May 19 at 7:00 P.M. (U.S. Central) to access the Q&A session.

For additional questions relating to the event contact:

E. info@railphoto-art.org
P.608-251-5785 ext. 104 (archive questions)
608-251-5785 ext. 103 (registration / Webex questions)

Steam yacht, “Ellide,” rides a flatcar down the makeshift launching track by the steamboat dock at Baldwin, near the northern end of Lake George (New York), circa 1890. Photograph by Fred Thatcher from the Jim Shaughnessy Collection.