National Geographic posts photo on train tracks, photographers react with outrage

Apr 13, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

National Geographic posts photo on train tracks, photographers react with outrage

Apr 13, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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It seems that lately there’s been an entire movement aimed at getting photographers and models off the train tracks. No wonder, considering how many people die as train hits them while taking photos. TODAY recently investigated how long it takes for you to hear the train. It turns out that, once you do – it may be too late.

In the midst of it all, National Geographic posted a photo on their Instagram account with a girl standing on train tracks. According to the users, this image encourages both dangerous behavior and breaking the law. Therefore, there were fierce reactions of many photographers, who flooded the photo with comments of disapproval.

The community accused National Geographic of being bad role models and encouraging photographers to recreate shots that may endanger their lives. One of the users pointed out that it’s been less than a month since the last railroad/photograph related deaths. And I believe this is only one of many tragic stories, who knows how many we don’t hear about. Another issue is that taking photos on train tracks is illegal, and the community also noted that in the comments.

Despite all the disapproval, there are some positive reactions on the photo as well, along with almost 500,000 likes. One user suggests NatGeo “not to listen to hate.” And apparently, they don’t, since the photo is still there. Another one points out that people are just being “oversensitive:”

Oversensitive or not, I still don’t see the point of risking your life for a shot. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think each of us should live wrapped up in cotton wool, and stay away from every possible risk. To be fair, life itself is risky, and you never know when something bad can happen. And sometimes you need to take a risk to achieve something. But still, I don’t see why anyone would expose themselves to serious danger just to take a shot thousands of people took before.

One more thing, I understand why people find trains and train tracks attractive, I love them as well. But you can always minimize the risk – take photos at inactive tracks or even old and abandoned ones. Or just come to Balkans for this photo shoot, trains here are as fast as a wounded snail. Joke aside, I believe NatGeo should have withheld from posting this photo on their Instagram. Taking photos on active train tracks is illegal, but above all – very dangerous. And we have the evidence for this in tragic stories that keep appearing.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this. Is this a wrong move from National Geographic? Or are we indeed being too sensitive?

[via DP Review]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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17 responses to “National Geographic posts photo on train tracks, photographers react with outrage”

  1. Gene Harriman Avatar
    Gene Harriman

    Railroads are private property for a reason. Trains are dangerous. If you bet against a train you lose. Every tme. Even if this was an unconnected rail and with permission, in this day and age it makes the impression that we can go just any time, anywhere, and shoot on tracks. Years ago, much more lenient and less accidents. Today, many people doing this equals more accident possibilities. Go shoot somewhere else. G

  2. MikeDF Avatar
    MikeDF

    Only today the British Transport Police launched a campaign to keep people off the rails (I know that metaphorically they like to keep people on the rails) here is a link to their campaign page: http://www.btp.police.uk/advice_and_information/tackling_crime/trespass.aspx

  3. Joe Polecheck Avatar
    Joe Polecheck

    Too. Freaking. Sensitive… If you don’t feel confident in your ability to get out of the way of a moving train, you shouldn’t be driving to your shot location in the first place.

    1. Mario Dennis Avatar
      Mario Dennis

      So, you won’t mind if I show up at your house to do a photo shoot. I know it’s private property, but you seem to think that’s OK.

    2. Joe Polecheck Avatar
      Joe Polecheck

      Sure. Come on over… I’m sure you’ve never crossed a field or anything for a photo. Just whiners being whiners.

  4. Madara Avatar
    Madara

    I worked for an engineering firm who were required to take safety classes for the railroads. I was surprised by the number of employees who were killed doing their jobs. Most were simple mistakes like stepping onto live tracks and not noticing the train. When there is construction within a railroad right-of-way the flagman notifies everyone and the work stops until the train passes. I use to think it was a big deal. I grew up like a kid in Stand By Me, but I’m now a strong advocate for railroad safety. If you want to shoot on tracks I’d look for a decommissioned line or a private spur track into a factory that you can permission to use.

    If you must shoot on live tracks get a person who’s only job is to watch for trains. When we use to survey, many railroads let us use a spotter. Now most require an actual flagman who is contact with the dispatcher.

  5. Jimmy Harris Avatar
    Jimmy Harris

    It’s important to teach people safety and common sense. It’s also important not to encourage bad behavior. Bad behavior can be things like risking ones life for a photo or over reacting to the cause du jour or belittling others who have done nothing to harm you. You can’t force everyone to think like you do, and a successful life is all about taking risks. Just because you don’t think the risks are worth it, doesn’t mean you have the right to impose your fears and beliefs on others.

    While I’m all for educating the public on the dangers of hanging around live railroad tracks, as well as the legal issues surrounding them, I can’t see any good coming from berating others who have caused you no harm. We need to remember to let other people live their own lives as they see fit, and focus our concentration on our own behavior.

  6. Jonathan Corbett Avatar
    Jonathan Corbett

    Railways are dangerous! Let’s face it you wouldn’t cross the middle of a highway to take a photo even if it wasn’t particularly busy because of the chance that a vehicle would come along and hit you so the same should be true for a train. This photo was particularly poorly timed considering the recent deaths and how much it’s in the news.

    1. Brian Menin Avatar
      Brian Menin

      You’ve never been to San Diego.

  7. Hector Macias Avatar
    Hector Macias

    I know that exact same spot. Is in Ventura and there’s a people crossing there to get to the beach. Not dangerous at all

  8. Karen Padilla Avatar
    Karen Padilla

    Stupid people will remain stupid and do stupid things. Standing on train tracks is just one way to be stupid. Another way is to be NatGeo and encourage it by submitting a photo with someone standing on a railroad track. The California coastal train goes at a great speed and if people are on the track and don’t get out of the way fast enough, they will be dead or severly injured. A lot of people on the train might be killed, too, if the train is derailed because it hits an object that’s not suppose to be there. This isn’t whining. This is following the trespassing law. Do not take photos on private property especially when it’s in the middle of a train tracks. No photo is worth dying for.

  9. Allan Alcibar Avatar
    Allan Alcibar

    Over sensitive. I recently started getting all kinds of shit talking about my train tracks shot.

    Not sure how many “they are disconnected, unused tracks” convos I’ve had so far.

  10. Yomismo Avatar
    Yomismo

    I’ve been a train “aficionado” for many, many years and I took a lot of photos in the tracks, and didn’t have a single “close call”. I’ve been in multiple events, with small, medium or large groups of people, by day, at night, and never seen a single incident.

    Of course there are careless people, and there are morons too, but they would be eaten by a hyena or die in an avalanche. Just give them a gopro and a skateboard…and wait.

  11. Laurent Roy Avatar
    Laurent Roy

    Wow ! Way too sensitive to me. One should know the place and if trains still use those railroads or not before go to shoot, that’s all. How far all this will go ? forbid shooting in forests, or hiking ?
    http://fav.me/dlwcrn

  12. Keith A Varley Avatar
    Keith A Varley

    NatGeo have professional Photographers, who may specialise in this area of photography. The photographer will most likely know this stretch very well and know when to move. They may even have an app installed on their phones which indicate the movements of trains, freight inclusive.

    There are numerous accidents on rail networks all over the world involving motor vehicles and pedestrians. Just follow the rules and be mindful of this very dangerous environment.

    Here in the UK you can be trained with the presence of Network Rail team members. So this can be done safely.

  13. Neil Barnwell Avatar
    Neil Barnwell

    Considering it’s NatGeo, there’s a chance they posted members of the team up and down the tracks with radios for advanced warning. Maybe they’re disused tracks? Either way, if there’s some other reason they felt this shot was “safe”, they could perhaps have put it as a disclaimer in the caption for the image. A kind of “do not try this at home”. Not sure it needs all the furore around it, though.

  14. Radu Constantine Avatar
    Radu Constantine

    What about, instead of inventing problems, we would talk about the fact that this picture should not have been posted because, in my opinion, it has nothing artistic in it – one could take a better one with an iPhone.