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Old 12-23-2014, 04:43 PM   #26
J-M Frybourg
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Paris, France
Posts: 59

I wish to re-visit the following suggestion:
Originally Posted by J-M Frybourg View Post
ii) Think about how RPN can give more room to innovation and creativity in train photography.
Indeed, I believe that quite some of my rejections - and my further appeals on them - was about borderline classic vs. innovative ways of portraying trains. So it is quite natural that what is borderline raises rejections, appeals, and more importantly a need to establish a dialogue about pushing the boundaries of the "acceptability criteria enveloppe".
As Robjor rightfully said: "once you set criterion, rules, inevitably certain creativity suffers and a certain sameness can set in".
I also wish to comment on Mitch’ comment:
Originally Posted by Mgoldman View Post
Do not try to rationalize why a particular image did not meet the personal taste of one or two site administrators. It IS their site and that seems to be the most accurate characterization of the logic.
Is RPN really owned by the RPN founders and staff?
Today, RPN has become “the” reference web site for railroad photography. As a consequence, in some way, RPN has established itself as a major referee, judge and arbitrator of what is acceptable railroad photography vs. what is not.
Thus, indeed, it IS their site, but RPN has objectively earned kind of a responsibility.

Now, here is a teaching story about tradition vs. innovation in art:
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In the middle of the 19th century, as Emperor Napoleon III rebuilt Paris and waged war, the Académie des Beaux-Arts dominated French art. The Académie was the preserver of traditional French painting standards of content and style. Historical subjects, religious themes, and portraits were valued; landscape and still life were not. The Académie preferred carefully finished images that looked realistic when examined closely. Paintings in this style were made up of precise brush strokes carefully blended to hide the artist's hand in the work. Colour was restrained and often toned down further by the application of a golden varnish.

The Académie had an annual, juried art show, the Salon de Paris, and artists whose work was displayed in the show won prizes, garnered commissions, and enhanced their prestige. The standards of the juries represented the values of the Académie, represented by the works of such artists as Jean-Léon Gérôme and Alexandre Cabanel.

In the early 1860s, four young painters—Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Frédéric Bazille—met while studying under the academic artist Charles Gleyre. They discovered that they shared an interest in painting landscape and contemporary life rather than historical or mythological scenes. Following a practice that had become increasingly popular by mid-century, they often ventured into the countryside together to paint in the open air, but not for the purpose of making sketches to be developed into carefully finished works in the studio, as was the usual custom. By painting in sunlight directly from nature, and making bold use of the vivid synthetic pigments that had become available since the beginning of the century, they began to develop a lighter and brighter manner of painting that extended further the Realism of Gustave Courbet and the Barbizon school. (...)

During the 1860s, the Salon jury routinely rejected about half of the works submitted by Monet and his friends in favour of works by artists faithful to the approved style. In 1863, the Salon jury rejected Manet's The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l'herbe) primarily because it depicted a nude woman with two clothed men at a picnic. While the Salon jury routinely accepted nudes in historical and allegorical paintings, they condemned Manet for placing a realistic nude in a contemporary setting. The jury's severely worded rejection of Manet's painting appalled his admirers, and the unusually large number of rejected works that year perturbed many French artists.

After Emperor Napoleon III saw the rejected works of 1863, he decreed that the public be allowed to judge the work themselves, and the Salon des Refusés (Salon of the Refused) was organized. While many viewers came only to laugh, the Salon des Refusés drew attention to the existence of a new tendency in art and attracted more visitors than the regular Salon.

Do you see the parallel with RPN, and the risks for RPN if a “web site of the RPN refused” would arise?

Some photographers, some very good photographers, have rejected or are rejecting RPN because they do not accept to be judged through the eyes of a tiny team of US individuals, whatever their qualities are. Blair Koostra (USA) RobinCoombes (UK), Gregoire Brossard (France) are just a few examples of what I consider good innovative photographers. They have stopped submitting, fed up to bounce against the walls of RPN classic photo admission criteria.

I often wonder whether some striking photos that I see praised elsewhere would make it to the RPN database. There is a diversity of judges, tastes, “admission criteria” out there in the world. I don’t like the idea of RPN establishing itself as the final judge of what is good taste and bad taste in RR photography.

The criteria for the Railroad Center for Photography and Art awards are certainly not the same as the RPN admission criteria.
Excellent and very creative Japanese railroad photography as seen in Japan Railfan Magazine and the likes, would not make it to the RPN database with the existing admission criteria.
Even Dick Steinheimer’ pictures: I think a share of them would be rejected (without prior knowing / viewing them and without knowing the name of the photographer).

ii /2) (re-visiting my above suggestion # ii )

In the interest of RPN, I suggest re-thinking creative photography and related RPN admission criteria to allow for less standard and classic images.
There has already been some limited progress in this direction. I encourage the RPN team to do more.

How to do that?
A good way to do that might be through creative photo meeting sessions (virtual meetings) with RPN staff, selected RPN contributors and some non RPN staff. In advance of the session, you / we would collect creative pictures obviously falling out of the current admission criteria, and then discuss why they are currently not acceptable, whether or not they should remain as such and why, and then conclude with improved admission / rejection rules.
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