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A New, Humorous Video Reminds Us To Stop Taking Photos On Train Tracks

By Hanssie on December 3rd 2015

Sometimes I feel like we are beating a dead horse, but the statistics show that about every 3 hours a person or a car is hit by a train. Why does this keep happening? We’ve written article after article reporting the dangers and the deaths related to photographing on train tracks and yet this year alone, there have been at least five preventable deaths of people photographing or filming on train tracks.


We’ve talked not only about the dangers and legalities of shooting on railroad tracks but also how it’s become cliche and overdone. Yet, especially this time of year, I keep seeing family portraits done on train tracks pop up in my Facebook feed and my Christmas cards. And so, we will continue work with  Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit rail safety education program, to educate and help get the word out.

This week, Operation Lifesaver sent me a video to share, hoping to continue to raise awareness of the dangers of shooting on the tracks. This time, they’ve tried to take a humorous approach by making it animated and as lighthearted as you can get about this serious matter. Watch below and please share it around to continue to remind people that a photo on railroad tracks is not worth dying for.


After posting these types of articles and videos, the same comments and questions seem to pop up, the number one question being, how do people not hear a train coming with at least enough time to get off the tracks? What many people don’t seem to realize is that the newer trains are virtually silent, traveling at extremely high speeds, and they cannot stop in time to avoid hitting someone.

If you must shoot on railroad tracks, make sure that they are inactive (never assume tracks are unused) or you have a permit or permission to be shooting there. I hear many photographers use the phrase in the context of trespassing to get the shot, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Not in this case. Keep yourself and your clients safe by avoiding the use of train tracks in your shoots altogether. People will see your images even if you photographed on inactive tracks and will want the same.

For more information, check out Operation Lifesaver’s website here and read some of our articles about the dangers of photographing on railroad tracks here.

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. J D

    I refuse to do any photos on or near tracks. My last client that asked, and I said no, chose another photographer. While they didn’t get injured on the shoot, I was told they got booted out by railway police and the photog had her gear confiscated for a couple days.

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  2. Brian Stricker

    I don’t the the track shot thing to be honest but I really, really don’t get how you can be hit by a train doing it.

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  3. Andy & Amii Kauth

    It’s also illegal … so there’s that.

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    • Paul Empson

      there is a good reason it’s illegal.. I always feel for the emergency services / workers having to clear up an area after an incident.

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  4. John Flowers

    I’m just to much of a fraidy cat to attempt anything near or on train tracks, I’ll pass..

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  5. Andy O’Dowd

    If you must use an active track (Don’t!) then find a track that has a much visibility as possible along the track length. Also, take a spotter whose job is to watch the tracks in both directions and shout as loudly as possible when he even thinks a train might be coming.

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    • robert s

      if the couple want pictures on the track then Id do it but a spotter is a great solution

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  6. Andy & Amii Kauth

    Humorous but sobering. We should consider an active track as serious as an active runway or volcano … strange that we don’t. We had a school bus taken out by a train a few weeks ago; thankfully, no one was hurt!

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