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The contribution of Photographers to Preservation

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Sidmouth, Oct 11, 2010.

  1. TonyMay

    TonyMay New Member

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    Photographers spend a lot of money on their equipment so the money does go to Canon/Nikon etc. And more on petrol travelling hundred miles to a gala, so also to BP/Esso. Yet even with an annual lineside pass at £50 or so (including membership) for most places, and you don't need a ticket to travel, so you could spend £50 and no more for several events at your local line. Or without a pass, even nothing. Of course, many are involved, but it's the ones who don't who give the rest a bad name.
     
  2. Johnny E

    Johnny E New Member

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    We have one fairly well known photter as part of our group and he helps us regularly. The assistance rendered on a particularly hot and filthy disposal in the dark between two mainline outings last year was utterly invaluable.
     
  3. wehaveaproblem

    wehaveaproblem New Member

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    I think you will find a number of line side photographers do also travel on mainline steam charters. I try and get on as many as possible per year (money) and travel to photograph as many as possible per year (wife).
    I also travel to Heritatge Railways and go for a ride and photo in the same day, if I don't ride I buy a platform ticket or at least go to the cafe and buy my lunch or something from the gift shop (a model :-o ). So some days I do not contribute much and other I contribute alot (hired train for wedding). Also making sure I visit local shops and buy my petrol from the local garage. Everything helps. There must be many others out there who do the same and as long as they are contributing in some way then all is ok. I guess there are others who do not. Minority I hope.
    I have had a large photo published in a magazine to help advertise the sittingbourne's plight a few years ago and when the payment arrived I contributed the money to their 'save our railway' fund. Imagine if all the photographers contributed their money from their published material how much money could be generated...
     
  4. CALEDONIA

    CALEDONIA New Member

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    Its interesting to study the comments on this thread, i suppose anyone who turns up to photograph a train will be target, but i know from talking to folk that people do put time, money etc back into the subject they love. Alot of people do not have the spare time to devote physical work to their favorite loco, line etc but it does not stop them supporting it.I myself make regular monthly donations to locos,travel on mainline and preserved line steam, and i am a member of various groups. I would love to devote time to them but sadly have commitments to an elderly mother, family etc which prevents me from doing so. I do go out and photograph mainline steam ( mainly around the fells of the North) and enjoy the experience, long way it continue, and my heartfull thanks to all who provide us with these wonderful sights and sounds - but sadly in this world you will get the people who give an awful lot but others who will take alot
     
  5. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Of all the forums I'm on that cover my varied hobbies, I find it interesting that it's only on the railway ones where the photographer is attacked for "not contributing."
    In all walks of life there will be those who want a freebie and no amount of slagging off will change that but by tarring all photographers with the same brush you run the risk of alienating those who do contribute.
     
  6. Exactly. This discussion needs turning on its head. How on earth do the "doubters" know that (the vast majority of) railway photographers do not contribute to railway preservation. Come on, you doubters, give us the facts and numbers as you see it.

    Steve
     
  7. Orion

    Orion New Member

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    For me the attitude of volunteers to photographers and others, including on occasion 'their' railway's customers, is the reason why I don't volunteer myself. I spend a lot of money on the railways in addition to money spent in the wider community while away for long weekends and I profoundly object to the attitudes that many volunteers have. I admire their acheivements without which my life would the poorer, but I just don't want to want to come into contact with such people.

    Sorry if this offends.

    Regards
     
  8. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Good post. Most volunteers on most railways won't know me, you or anyone else with a camera from Adam so how can they possibly know anything about the level of our contribution to railway preservation? I assume these "doubters" have never read a magazine in a newsagents before putting it back on the shelf nor availed themselves of any sort of unofficial freebie during their oh so perfect lives.
     
  9. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Another good post. Several years ago I had enjoyed a good day on the GCR. To finish off I decided to take some night shots on shed. The torrent of foul mouthed abuse I received from one volunteer was unbelievable. I had a camera and therefore in his opinion I was a freeloader. Quite what the young family standing nearby made of it I don't know but I doubt he won the railway many friends with his attitude.
     
  10. northernblue109

    northernblue109 New Member

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    I prefer to do my riding on standard operating days in the company of ordinary members of the public who don't clamber over tables in an attempt to stick something out of every opening window. As for gala events, I am quite happy to pay for parking, platform tickets, on-station catering and any special photo opportunities such as the recent photo evening at the Tanfield Railway. Give me something that is of value to me and I will contribute but please don't force your own values on me.
     
  11. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    It's interesting to read some of the comments here as the photographers defend themselves. 'I'm a volunteer with such and such a railway, therefore I'm not a freeloader.' That doesn't hold water with my definition of a freeloader. It doesn't matter whether someone spends six days a week volunteering on railway A; if he goes to railway B and takes photos without contributing by buying a ticket or some other entry fee, he's freeloading on that railway. Buying a cup of tea in the buffet doesn't count. When i'm waiting the right away on the NYMR, I often indulge in conversation with people stood by the cab. I invariably ask them if they are travelling and it is very rare for someone to say yes.
     
  12. 61624

    61624 Well-Known Member

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    Heritage Railway Volunteer:
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    But that is a very biased sample of people - the fact that they're alongside the loco cab as you are preparing to go means that they're unlikely to be travelling on the train (unless they've misjudged things somewhat!). Chances are that if they're in a position to catch the departing train they're also unlikely to be waiting for the next one
     
  13. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    What a load of old tosh! So by your definition of freeloading, to avoid be termed as such one should never photograph a steam special but ride on them all instead. Where I come from a volunteer from another railway is made welcome and certainly not deemed a freeloader if he decides to have a day out with a camera enjoying the fruits of my labours.
     
  14. Stu in Torbay

    Stu in Torbay New Member

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    Do photters contribute? who cares. You drive your train out in public view and people will watch, wave, gorp, take pictures of it. One could argue that the contribution is that there will be many records of the event in many places for a much wider audience to see. A kind of 'advertising' if you like.
     
  15. 6024KEI

    6024KEI Member

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    Steve - to pick up your point - my wife and I spent a week on holiday in Pickering a few years back before our kids were born. On one of the days we were there we paid for a full trip to Grosmont and back (although in fact as we are also keen walkers we followed the old line back to Goathland before catching the train home) however on a number of other occasions when my wife was happy sitting in the cottage garden reading, I wandered up just to "breathe in" the trains at Pickering station. In theory according to your principle I was freeloading on those occasions despite having bought a ticket at another time in the week.

    On a wider point the chances are people come along one day and watch - another day they come back and ride - particularly those dumped there on a coach tour who may not have time on that occasion within their itinerary.

    All of which brings me back to a wider point - its surely a waste of time trying to prove that photographers are worthless or not - the reality is that within any group there are good and bad. Some photographers never put a penny in the pot anywhere, some preservation group members cost more in wasted time and conflict caused than they ever productively acheive in putting something together. Judging people by labels is a somewhat futile pastime.
     
  16. northernblue109

    northernblue109 New Member

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    What next, window shoppers to be barred from the high street? If potential customers are not buying what you're selling, surely it's time to look at what you're offering. Stop me looking and the probability is that I'll never buy.
     
  17. Christoph

    Christoph New Member

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    Hello all,

    in my eyes this is a most interesting discussion. Rail enthusiasts who mainly take photographs and possibly contribute financially to the upkeep of a heritage line or loco seem to be the majority of contributors in this discussion. Hence the current agreement seems to be that contrary to popular belief photographers do make a significant contribution towards preservation. May I offer an alternative view from the other side of the fence, literally, if you like?

    I might be a bit of an unusual person in preservation as I have done and still do a bit of everything: volunteering in uniform, volunteering in overalls, photographing modern traction, visiting heritage operations, riding on charters and all that in Germany and the UK and in the tramway and railway field. But I have not taken part in any photographic charters of the kind where you are outside the train and follow by car and do not intend to do so either. I am stating this because most enthusiasts do one, at best two, out of those which is one possible cause for friction. People just don't understand the other person's view.

    You usually remember negative experiences better than positive experiences which is probably why many volunteers at heritage operations are very cautious towards visitors who show a bigger interest than the average Joe Public. If visitors are more demanding than others then those are enthusiasts. The extra time they ask for can be anything from replying to more questions than usual to demands of posing a particular vehicle, asking for access to areas normally out of bounds, staying after usual closing time to watch the stabling operation etc.. Quite frequently the extra revenue for the extra time spent is nil or if it is more than nil it may not be immediately obvious to the volunteer giving some extra time to respond to those demands *.

    Enthusiasts are more likely to criticise points of little or no interest to the general public who supply most of the all important revenue. Again, that criticism may be anything, from details of a restoration job to discussions about why a vehicle had been restored in that particular livery. Any who would seriously worry about the authenticity of a GWR-liveried loco on coaching stock in BR-maroon or, even worse, LNER teak stock! Joe Public who just wants a good day out certainly not!

    Finally there are those who cause real trouble, walk into restricted areas, cause damage or attempt to steal items. Those are more likely people with a bigger interest in the subject, i.e. enthusiasts.

    As always, those who stand out, in a negative way in this instance, will be remembered better than those who follow the crowd.

    The background of a volunteer is another issue which is usually not obvious to the visiting enthusiast. My experience is that many volunteers do not engage in activites other than volunteering at "their" line. They do not even have to be railway enthusiasts in the sense that they learned a big deal about railway history or know the best photographic locations. With that background it is understandable that the subtleties of the lining variations on GWR "Castles" in the early BR period are completely beyond the comprehension of those volunteers. (This is an example. I have no idea if there were any such lining variations and please do not allow this thread to drift into that direction.) Someone with the background described will almost certainly remember a photographing enthusiast as a nerd, and little else, if that enthusiast wishes to discuss such issues.

    The above served to explain how some, or maybe many, volunteers at heritage lines see photographers, and why. But back to the question: What is the contribution of photographers to preservation? I believe it is far less than believed by most other contributors on this thread. The only real contribution photographers can make is a direct financial contribution with the small exception of the contribution photographs for publicity purposes, i.e. promotional leaflets or official websites. I exclude photographs in the enthusiasts' press from the latter.

    My experience is, that under normal circumstances photographers contribute not more than the average non-enthusiast visitor, sometimes less. Just like anyone else they buy a ticket, they purchase food and drink and they purchase items in the souvenir shop. They might spend more on souvenirs (I certainly do!) but looking at the whole of photographers the surplus from that might be outweighed by those who photograph but do not ride and thus do not spend money on tickets.

    Only charters might be different. I take a ficticious example of an evening cruise train for Joe Public and a charter for photographers on a preserved line. Both require the same (volunteer) effort. The evening cruise might bring in 180 passengers at, say, 15 GBP each. That's just three coaches almost sold out. The charter might bring in 45 GBP from each participant, is that realistic? To make the photo charter more profitable than the evening cruise it would need more than 60 participants. Realistic? I honestly have no idea, but someone on here certainly will and answer the question if photographers contribute more than Joe Public in this case.

    And, finally, may I take up that point:

    The operation of heritage rail equipment serves to generate revenue for the upkeep of that or other equipment. Anyone benefitting from the operation for free effectively deprives the operator of that revenue or let others pay for his enjoyment. This makes the accusation understandable, doesn't it?

    I can understand that this is a difficult subject, though, because it is very difficult to establish where the limits are, as some contributions clearly show. And I think that looking at that question does not help the original question much.

    And finally finally (a bit of Yes Minister here!), my conclusion is that as a whole those who regard railway photography as their hobby do not contribute more to the preservation movement than the non-enthusiast general public. But I am aware that this is a big simplification of matters as there is a wide range of people. Some do not give in any way, some equal the general public, some, but they appear to be a minority, dig deep into their pockets, a generosity which is diluted, though, because some of those expect very special treatment as a return.

    If you have read it all to this point, thanks for reading.

    Kind regards

    Christoph


    Footnote *: I will probably always remember one exception to that rule. At the Hannover Tramway Museum, my "home" museum, some enthusiasts asked for one tramcar to be taken out of the depot for them to photograph. When asked for 20 Euros for the favour by our chairman and operations superintendent they got out their wallets with very little discussion. The car was brought out, they got their photographs (and I think videos), the car was put back and everyone was happy.
     
  18. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    That's your opinion and you're entitled to it. I don't believe I ever said that you should never take a photo and only ride. Perhaps I should have said something along the lines of
    'If you plan a visit to Railway 'A' with the intention of taking photos/watching or whatever takes your interest and without the intention of taking a ride or paying an entry fee/donation/whatever, then you are freeloading.' Are you going to disagree?
    As for making a bona fide volunteer welcome, I'll always do that and go the extra mile to make sure he/she gets what he/she wants but I don't expect it to be one-sided. If you come to either of my railways, I'll show you around/behind the scenes/perhaps even give you a footplate ride but I expect you to buy a ticket/make a donation/whatever.
     
  19. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    I don't think it is biased. I don't say 'Are you travelling on this train?', more along the lines of 'Have you been/are you going for a ride?' For the avoidance of doubt, this includes all people, not just photographers.
    Our hobby is, like it or not, largely one of looking, whether it is as a trainspotter, a casual visitor or a photographer. Even I look when I wander around a heritage railway, even though I don't photgraph or train spot. What I object to are those who look/photograph/train spot without contributing in a realistic way to the spectacle that they want to look at.
     
  20. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Christoph,
    I maybe should have explained myself more clearly. The forums I was speaking of cover other forms of heritage transport that also need to generate revenue for their continued operation yet the photographer is not lambasted as he is on railway forums. This whole finger pointing and accusations is IMHO rather immature, pointless and potentially counter productive. Those who will never contribute will be unlikely to change their ways and those who do contribute may just think twice if they are continually but falsely accused.
     

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