Brilliantprints Live Help

Train Photographer Par Excellence: O. Winston Link

November 17th, 2012 No Comments
The Blue Comet #831 in Jersey City, NJ

The Blue Comet #831 in Jersey City, NJ (Photo credit: Bob Reck)

The steam-engine locomotive ‘opened up’ the American West and made it more accessible to what the wagon-train pioneers sometimes derisively called ‘Easterners’.  It was on those locomotive trains that the West was really ‘won’ in the Nineteenth Century.  However, by the early 1950s, in the heyday of Patti Page and before Elvis hit the scene, these locomotive trains were nearly extinct.  

Enter O. Winston Link, a then unknown ‘camera for hire’.

Back in 1955 when Link heard that one of the last holdouts of antiquated steam-engine technology, the Norfolk & Western Line, was going to switch over to diesel, he quietly set about doing what has come to be known by that often overblown word, ‘Photojournalism’, yet doing so with a clearly artistic touch.  Link photographed the last of the steam locomotives in and around Virginia.

In so doing, Link also managed to document a society and a vanishing way of life; he ended up making “vignettes into history and sociology” that “share an era,” according to The O. Winston Link Museum.  

This assessment is validated in a photograph that shows a boy pumping water from a hand pump into a bucket as a steam train chugs past in the near background.  It is also reflected in a photo that shows clothes drying on a clothesline beside a switch-operator’s shack.

It is Link’s night shots, though, that steal the show.

There’s one of a man holding a little boy by the hand as a locomotive is roaring up with a puff of smoke.  Notice what the boy is holding.  It’s a kerosene lantern, gone the way of the more obviously obsolete technology that dominates the picture.

And there’s another mind-blowing image of cars at a drive-in with young lovers snuggling in the foreground and a steam train going left to right in the background, complete with billowing smoke (how did Link light and expose this shot?)

In other photographs the steam-engine locomotive takes the spotlight and centre stage – alone by itself in the countryside.

Link’s photography is absolutely superb and the folks behind the O. Winston Link Collection deserve a lot of credit for making so many photographs available online.


Enhanced by Zemanta
Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

© 2020 Brilliant Prints

Are you a professional photographer or reseller?


Our Brilliant Prints professional site has 8 great products, useful resources and wholesale pricing.  ABN required.