Over 50 years ago, one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century, O Winston Link, focused on trains and railroads as his main subjects. He took his camera trackside and captured some of the most memorable scenes of the steam era. These are classic and collectible now, partly because they depict a somewhat romantic interaction between people, trains and nature, and partly because that era is gone and can never be captured on film in the same way again.
Those pictures are even more valuable to us model railroaders because they provide inspiration to create fantastic scenes for our train layouts. I have seen a number of articles in model railroad magazines over the years where prior photographs from the 1950's are used as a basis or at least as a reference for creating various structures, railroad yards or home town scenes involving railroads or railroad stations.
Using an O. Winston Link photograph as your reference photo adds a significant classic element to your scene. Imagine having a reproduction of one of Link's photos hanging in your train room and also having a reproduction of that same scene in three dimensions on your layout, complete with all the human and natural elements in the scene just as Link emphasized in the photograph.
I must say, I was inspired to think about this and share it on this site recently when I read an article in Model Railroader (May, 2009,pp. 68-71) by Doug Buchanan, JR, titled "An N&W Branch on a Shelf", in which he used an O. Winston Link photograph of the small train station at Green Cove, VA as a basis for a scene on his layout. This is a really good article which I would encourage you to read if you can get a copy. The layout and the scenery are very well done also and shows very nicely what you can do in a small space.
For a preview of the Link collection, visit the website at the O. Winston Link Museum.
Books on Railroad Photography and Art
From "O Winston Link" to "Gallery"