Creative and artistic railway photography

 

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History of the Circle

In 1974, in his introduction to 'Modern Rail Album'* Wyn Hobson wrote "In 1970, railway photography in Britain was in the doldrums. After the end of steam working on British Rail in 1968, many of the leading railway photographers had, in effect, put away their cameras. The portfolios of existing railway-photographic groups were increasingly filled with stock prints of dubious quality, whose only virtue was that the subject-matter was steam-power; and any idea that members should turn their attention to the newer forms of rail traction tended to be viewed with disinclination where it was not greeted with outright hostility. The pictorial side of the monthly railway journals, too, had entered something of a period of stagnation; after the invigorating adventurousness of the mid1960s, the selection of photographs for reproduction had become increasingly conservative in character, concentrating on a relatively narrow range of very conventional approaches where modern traction was concerned.

Increasingly, I felt the need for the creation of a forum which would bring together photographers active in the modern-traction field, and in which a wider and more adventurous range of photographic approaches could be developed. Accordingly, I decided in the autumn of that year to set up a new circulating-portfolio society on these lines, and circularised sixty or so photographers whose diesel and electric traction photography had appeared frequently in the railway journals over the previous five to six years. The choice of title for the society-The Phoenix Railway Photographic Circle- was a reference to the mythical bird which rises new-born from its own ashes, and reflected my hopes regarding the society's future contribution to the development of railway photography as an art.

The PRPC commenced operations in the spring of 1971 and towards the end of 1972 a sufficiently large nucleus of interested members existed for the creation of a small Colour Transparency Portfolio running in parallel with the main black-and-white Folios."

The aim of this website is to reflect the Circle’s abiding aim of taking railway-photography beyond the confines of mere photographic records, Into a fuller and more vivid re-creation of the experience of contemplating railways and also, sometimes, into the realm of art. It will help to expand the frontiers of railway-photographic taste by demonstrating that photography of diesel and electric traction can be as exciting and as beautiful as that of steam. It will appeal to all railway enthusiasts but particularly to those who are actively Interested in modern traction, and who are looking for more In a railway photograph than a rivet-counting visual record — looking, in fact for the vivid pictorial representation of trains in their total environment.

It is hoped, indeed, that the broad pictorial emphasis found here will help to carry the appeal of railways to those who would not normally consider themselves enthusiasts, and help them to experience some of the interest and excitement of modern railways for the first time. Trains throughout the world are depicted, the accent at all times is on railway pictures as pictures.

 

*'Modern Rail Album' published by D. Bradford Barton Ltd, 1974