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Phoenix Railway Photographic Circle

Est. 1970 - 71

Creative Railway Photography



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Book Reviews

Reviews from members on publications that provide food for thought in the pursuit of capturing 'Phoenix' style images.

This latest offering from the CRPA follows the tradition of focussing on a particular theme or Photographer, in this case J Parker lamb, or Parker as he was known. He came to notice as a 20 year old having his first photograph published in TRAINS magazine in 1954 and the following year being part of a feature on top railway photographers of the time.


Operating in Mississippi and Alabama, Parker became known for creative use of light and composition. As was the case here when many of the established photographers turned away from railways with the passing of steam, a few carried on turning their gaze to diesels and working out how they could photograph them in interesting ways and show the characteristics unique to them. Parker, along with a handful of others pushed boundaries in US railway photography as Colin Gifford and others did in the UK about 10 years later.


The 200 or so Black & White images in the book are nearly all reproduced full page to the usual stunning high quality we have come to expect from the CRPA. Not all of the images are ‘blow-your-socks-off’ masterpieces, but nearly everyone is fascinating in style and subject matter. I found 5 or 6 truly memorable images taken in the 1960s using techniques still not seen here today. Admittedly Parker operated in a different world to the one we are in here in the UK, but nothing of the kind was being done at the time anywhere, truly exceptional work.


The book rewards studied contemplation. It is easy to skim through and think there isn’t anything exceptional. But if you study the images and think about being stood there with him. How would we have photographed the scene, what would we have seen or wanted to show? It is an inspirational volume which I highly recommend.


Dafydd Whyles

J Parker Lamb book cover

‘The Railroad Photography of J Parker Lamb’

Published by Center for Railroad Photography & Art

ISBN 978-0-578-487502

Around £47

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