This series is modeled after the “Interesting Railfan” series in Railroad magazine from years ago. I’m asking each railfan 10 questions, some standard and some customized for the particular person. I hope you enjoy it. (See all in the series)
I put 10 questions to Ryan Gaynor, an Ontario-based photographer and videographer. I’ve admired his work for some time!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hello! My name is Ryan Gaynor and my passion is photographing trains. As a railroad photographer, I strive to capture images that tell the story of contemporary railroading. When I’m not trackside, I’m running a video production company called Boxcar Media Inc., I’m listening to my favourite music or I’m planning my next adventure.
2. Where’s your favourite place to railfan?
Anywhere in “Cottage Country”. Places like Washago, Dock Siding and Parry Sound are among my favourite to kick back, relax, and watch trains negotiate the rugged country of the Canadian Shield. I also really enjoy railfanning on the Ontario Northland Railway.
3. If you could railfan anywhere, anytime, where and when would it be?
CN’s Beachburg Subdivision through Algonquin Park, the CASO in its heyday or Ontario’s extensive network of branchlines at the dawn of dieselization are all lines that I wish I could have photographed. To be a fly on the wall at somewhere like Palmerston, Ontario in the 1950s…if only I could get the time machine working!
4. Do you prefer Instagram or Flickr (or another platform) for sharing your work?
A couple of months ago I probably would have said Instagram, but I’m afraid that it has become far too monetized and ad-laden as of late — especially with the latest update that replaces the notifications bar with a “shop” feature. Yuck! Nonetheless, there is a great community of railroad photographers on both platforms.
5. Do you prefer shooting stills or video? (and why?)
Video is my bread and butter, professionally. When it comes to trains, though, I prefer still photography. My love of photojournalism inspires me to look through a lens that captures the essence of the subject (trains, the railroad landscape and railroaders) in a succinct way. The welcomed challenge of telling a story with just one, or a few images, is a big part of what keeps the hobby exciting for me.
6. I joined the Center for Railway Photography & Art a few years ago. You have been a member for a while before that. What benefit(s) do you feel you get from being a member?
The greatest benefit of membership with CRP&A is being able to give back to the community and see the tangible results of the center’s initiatives. From their annual “Conversations” conferences, to their preservation efforts, and the fostering of future talent, the Center for Railway Photography & Art are leaders in the field. Their beautifully crafted Railroad Heritage magazine is an added bonus of being a member!
7. What’s the craziest trip you took to get “the shot”?
Oh man, they’re all crazy aha! Probably the craziest trip was in the Winter of 2020 when I drove from Hamilton to Englehart (600KMs away) on a whim, in the middle of the night, on the coldest day of the year, to capture a CN intermodal detour train on the ONR. Thankfully, the fruits of those labour resulted in an article with RFR and led to some great relationships with the ONR.
8. What advice would you have for a railfan looking to go beyond the “¾ crossing wedgie” toward making art?
Art is always subjective, but if I was to give any advice on how to look beyond the wedgie, it would be to spend time looking at the work of others (railroad and non) and try to visualize the train as a part of a bigger scene, and not just a train. When you start to see railroads in that different light, naturally, you will want to start to including more elements into your photos.
9. Besides a camera, what one piece of gear should every railfan bring trackside?
They’re often overlooked but in my opinion, a cable release is a crucial piece of gear to bring trackside. Especially for night photography. Of course, some extra snacks, a good pair of boots and a train scanner aren’t bad to bring either!
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10. What are the projects you are working on?
Currently I’m in the process of finalizing a website for my railroad photography, and I just wrapped up on article for Railfan & Railroad magazine that I look forward to sharing with everyone in the New Year!