Cameras and trains don't mix. Play it safe when taking your special photos!
June is a month of many celebrations. Whether it is a prom, graduation or wedding, capturing these special moments in a photo lets you cherish them for years to come. And finding the perfect backdrop is key.
But trains, tracks and other railway property is not the way to go. Not only are they private property—using them could get you seriously injured, or even killed.
Unfortunately, many wedding photographers make the mistake of thinking trains and other railway property provides the ideal setting for the perfect picture.
“Some wedding parties love trains, so what do they do? They use them as a backdrop, whether it's in an active yard or—supposedly, to their knowledge—a stationary yard,” explains Constable Dean Solowan, who has been with CN Police in Alberta for more than 20 years. “But you have to assume that any railway line is an active line. And by no means do we give permission or endorse photographs to be taken on railway property.”
Nipping the trend in the bud
Taking photos on trains or railway tracks isn’t a new trend, but what concerns Solowan is that it could become more popular with the rise of social media.
“The problem is that the photos are posted—whether on Instagram or other types of social media. And then there's a domino effect, because as soon as one person does it, others think, 'Oh, this is a unique type of shot. I never thought about that.’ And the next thing you know, everyone is trying it,” he explains.
Through social media, CN has actually been able to identify photographers who have taken photos on its property. By posting these photos online, photographers are providing proof of trespassing—and in Alberta, that means they could be hit with a $287 ticket. (Fines vary between provinces and territories.) In some cases, CN has decided to use these opportunities to spread the message that railway property and photography don’t mix.
“What we do is we utilize their knowledge on Facebook or Instagram or whatever social media they have, and we say, ‘We won't charge you. However, you will post an article on railway safety, and highlight the fact that taking photos on or near the railway property is unacceptable,’" says Solowan.
Encouraging a safer way to take train photos
Solowan admits trains make a great backdrop for photographs—if taken from a safe distance. But he emphasizes that if people want to make them part of their cherished pictures, there are safer ways to do it.
“I would suggest the photographer do research prior to determine whether it is private property. And if they want to use a railway as a background, do it from a safe distance—have the railway in the background without going onto railway property. Or go to a safe location, such as a museum or a railway yard that has trains and exhibits.”
So, if you love trains, be smart and keep them in the background of your special photos. Otherwise, they might be the last photos you ever take!