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Photographing Vintage Trains | Step Back in Time With Matthew Malkiewicz

By Chris Nachtwey on June 20th 2014

Trains were one of the first forms of transportation that could easily transport many people from coast to coast in the United States and in this day and age are still the preferred form of transportation in many major cites. They are now faster, sleeker, have free wifi, and frankly, don’t look as cool as they use to. When you get the chance to see an old vintage train rolling down the tracks with a huge plum of smoke billowing from its smoke stack, it’s hard to not to take picture of it.


Matthew Malkiewicz, a self-taught photographer and engineer, has a love for vintage trains that started as a child. He had a vintage model train set up in his basement and when he received his first camera, he would point it at any train he saw. Fast forward to present day where Matthew now plans many of his vacations around photographing vintage trains.


“My passion gravitates to the machines of yesteryear, fire breathing monsters that seem to be alive whether you have your hand against the polished steel or you are two bluffs away looking across acres of prairie grass. I envision how it must have been back in the day and try to create photographs as timeless as possible to depict what I consider a vibrantly better and sadly vanished time.” -Matthew Malkiewicz




“Because of the dirty, greasy, smoky, and often times humid conditions I subject my gear to, as well as the weather’s harsh elements, I choose never to change a lens in the field. Having the 3 combos at arm’s reach gives me so much flexibility and functionality, as well as keeping the camera’s internals clean. I am an ambient and natural light shooter only – and do not own any flashes or strobes.”-Matthew Malkiewicz

Lost Tracks of TimeWhat I love about Matthew’s images is that he not only captures the beauty and power of these trains of yesteryear, but incorporates people into his images from time to time. For me, the addition of people in the frame adds that little extra vintage flare that transports me to another time.

He also offers some sound advice for photographers:

Always push the outside of the envelope, challenging yourself every time out to do better than the last. Do not be afraid of failing.



Lost Tracks of Time

Matthew does an amazing job capturing the power, and beauty of these vintage trains. It’s proof, that when you are passionate about a subject and focus in on it, the images are always well done and have a little piece of you in them.

You can see more of Matthew’s work on his website and 500px.


CREDITS: Photographs by Matthew Malkiewicz have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

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Chris Nachtwey is a full-time wedding and portrait photographer based in Connecticut. He is the founder and creator of 35to220 a website dedicated to showcasing the best film photography in the world. Chris loves to hear from readers, feel free to drop him a line via the contact page on his website! You can see his work here: Chris Nachtwey Photography

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Peter Nord

    I’m old enough to remember ridding on these trains. Watching the smoke and steam billow out from under bridges as the engines went through the neighborhood. Best time was when my parents took me to the airport to watch the planes start up with their three engines, but better when they drove to the near rail yard with the wonderful steam engines. So great to look at and listen to.

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  2. Keegan Carroll

    Steam engine trains are amazing to photograph. The golden light and the darken detail makes those images extremely striking. Love it!

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  3. David Lefranc

    Great stuff !

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  4. Spencer Bunting

    WOW!! beautiful My grandfather was a engineer so I spent alot of time around trains as a kid. Defiantly alot of memories here.

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  5. Greg Faulkner

    First image is really great, looks like Hogworts Express!

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  6. Eric Mazzone

    I really dig the first, third, and last images.

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  7. Tyler Friesen

    That first and second last shot are amazing.

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  8. Jacob Jexmark

    Love these…

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  9. Matt Walsh

    That second to last shot is great.

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