Andrew ButlerOf all the places that I photograph Network Rail sites have amongst the highest standards of safety, you don’t just tip up at a railway and start shooting. The start point is the day will be orange very orange, you will also know where the location is (exactly), which way the trains are going, how fast and related to the speed the safe distance from them.

You will have already had a pass set up and on this rather beautiful morning it looked like my pass had been declined. It turned out that since I was there early we were actually ready to go before the pass had come into force. There was nothing for it but wait. To save time got the briefing done from a safe viewpoint and were ready to go as soon as the smartphone app said yes.

Polymer cable trough trial; doesn’t sound too engaging does it? The issue is that railways are very expensive to have out of action, so anything that can be done to help is good news. Traditionally the trough beside the railway line (which carries all sorts of cabling) is made of concrete which makes it heavy. It does the job but is too heavy for the workforce to man-handle safely and without risk of injury so if it fails machinery is needed. This new lightweight fully recyclable product has a lot going for it then? We just need some images for the magazine article which is going to press tomorrow.

From a photography perspective it has to be said there’s not a lot to work with, most of the product ends up being buried underground, it’s made to be walked on too. I once made a civil engineer laugh when I commented that ‘nothing says railway like a train.’ We had the product, we had the suitably attired men, we even had a bright blue skied morning, all we really needed was a train or two.

Communications for Photographers

Recently I undertook a careers talk to Exeter School students and an eyebrow or two were raised when I mentioned that when I did my degree neither email nor t’internet were around. The client for this job was based in Bristol but from a car-park in Dawlish Warren I was able to get 4G on the phone. This meant that I could run a test shot through Lightroom on the Mac and send it via a portable hot-spot for the client to check. Worse case scenario was that we would have to walk back down the track but at least I had an active pass. A single image was needed for the story to get printed but the magazine needed it the following day. That awkward moment of silence whilst one listens to the client access their emails and view the proof:

(Andrew) These are great!