Jim Springer

I was born and raised in a small town in Western Pennsylvania called Youngwood, about 30 miles South of Pittsburgh. Youngwood’s reason for existence was the railroad. Youngwood was located along a busy branch line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, serving many coal mines and communities, as well as linking the PPR with other railroads. A lot of train traffic went through town, and I lived less than a quarter mile from the tracks. My father, Leslie Springer, worked for the Pennsy (and later Penn Central and Conrail). Both Grandfathers also worked for the Pennsy in their day. So, as you can probably intuit, railroading is part of my DNA. My interest in photographing railroads didn’t take hold, however, until I was far away from Youngwood in space and time, and after my father had passed away. (What I wouldn’t give to go back to Youngwood in the early 1960’s with my camera!). I took a lot of bad photos over the years, until I finally took a photography course at a local community college in Chesapeake Virginia, taught by an irascible but very talented and knowledgeable photographer named Spook Skelton. After learning the basics, I strived to emulate the beautiful photos I’d seen in train magazines and books. From 1992 to 2000, I had a job traveling around the country (USA and Canada), and I made the best use of whatever free time I could eke out, either in the morning before work or after work in the afternoon, to photograph trains. In those 8 years I shot around 10,000 slides of trains, meticulously; labeling date, location, and subject. I also honed my photographers eye to where composing a shot is (almost) automatic - looking for props, light, angles, leading lines, etc. I am not nearly as well known as a lot of railroad photographers out there, but I am still proud of the shots I have had published in various magazines, TRAINS, RAILNEWS (no longer published), The Railroad Press, and CTC Board. CTC Board stresses quality photography in every issue, so I was extremely proud when they featured my work in a recurring series of articles they call “Personal Vision”. I hope you enjoy my article and photos featured in the Photographic vision site. Please feel free to visit my personal train photography website at www.trainweb.com/amrailphotos. Also, feel free to contact me at locowolf@ptd.net.