O. Winston Link

When I wanted to start creating more meaningful pictures,  one of the artists I looked to for inspiration was O Winston Link.  His best known images chronicle the final days of steam railroading on the Norfolk & Western Railway, the last American railroad to use the steam locomotive in a big way.  Link, a native New Yorker, sought to represent the railroad as well as its surroundings — the people and rural enclaves that relied on the railroad as much as the railroad did on them.

It is this contextual sense which gives Link’s images, shot primarily at night with intricate flashbulb setups, a lasting importance as artistic and historical documents.  In a country where the interstate and automobile have replaced the railroad as the heart-and-soul of small and mid-sized cities, Link’s images allow us to experience a time where things weren’t so easily accessible, where a forlorn steam whistle punctuated one’s day, and where the wanderlust of the steel rails beckoned many.

Highball for the Doubleheader, April 23, 1959.

Link passed away in 2001, but has since been honored with a museum in Roanoke, Virginia. A collection of his photographs will be exhibited at Robert Mann Gallery in February and March.

O. Winston Link at Robert Mann Gallery

February 8, 1957

Engineer J. R. Harrell at Shaffers Crossing Roundhouse, Bluefield, WV.

How Weather Simplifies

Snow has always simplified my task in photography.  In many respects it reduces the scene to its essence.  When I’m lucky the composition presents itself in the mind’s eye with great alacrity — and other times I find myself looking for a more essential interpretation.  I’ve always wanted to photograph the Roosevelt Island Tram, which connects Manhattan Island to Roosevelt Island, but it was only when I was out in the snow did I fully realize how much the bleak snowy background helped accentuate the red tram and black cables.

All images are from the New York City area during the most recent snowfall.