I noticed in a Facebook group the other day that track (railway) shoot photos are now banned. Not illegal track shoots, not shoots conducted on live tracks…ALL track photos. I have no issue with the Facebook admins taking this approach, it is their group and their rules, but I do have to question whether we are overreacting and bowing down to safety nazi’s when we stop the posting of perfectly legal and safe photos because of a few idiots who do so illegally and unsafely, or because we believe people may try to mimic photos, which they will ultimately try do with any kind of photo.
Ultimately, no matter what we do, people are going to do stupid things, you can’t outlaw stupid completely. There are plenty of railway photos on the web. There are also many safe and legal ways to do so, like any activity, so when we start to prevent people posting legally taken photos, why are we taking the stance on just railway photos? I know the safety nazi’s will say they are protecting the amateur photographers and models from themselves but are they?
The one major issue I have with hiding this sort of photography from groups is that we avoid educating people on how to do it correctly, because ultimately it isn’t actually hard to educate people on the issue. We avoid telling people that these shoots aren’t doing it on live lines. We avoid telling them to get the appropriate permission first. We avoid telling them that safety is paramount.
The second issue is whether the actual risk is blown out of proportion in the modern era. Do a search for railway photographer and model deaths and you’ll find the numbers are surprisingly low given the amount of publicity it has received. Lots of repetitive stories of the same deaths highlighting the risks on 20 different websites, website like drama, but the numbers of actual number of deaths are actually fairly low. Obviously, no deaths are acceptable, but is railway photography anymore dangerous than some of the other idiotic things people are doing?
- We have instagram models climbing in the water with sharks and being bitten, are we proposing banning shark photos?
- We have people taking photos of people sitting on cliffs, something that is relatively common in almost every photography groups. Not long ago a couple fell to their death and I’m willing to bet more than 10 times the amount of people have fallen to their deaths with such photos than track photos, and yet no discussion on bans for those.
- We have people photographing other people hanging from the side of buildings, a past time that is both illegal and unsafe.
- We have people photographing people tightrope walking between buildings and other high obstacles, and somehow this particular activity is referred rather than abhorred despite the inherent risks if someone tries to mimic it.
- We have people photographing from vehicles whilst driving, hopefully not the drivers, but I’m willing to bet there would be some who attempt this while driving themselves.
None of the above examples are banned from groups, and there is a reason behind it, if they are done safely and in a controlled fashion, they are safe. If some idiot tries to do any of the above, you can’t stop them. The rules should be simple…ILLEGAL ACTIVITY!
If someone is taking photos on a railroad known to be live and without the appropriate permissions, take the appropriate action, but we should not be giving into safety nazi’s because people are getting offended when railroad photos are being posted.