Jeff Brouws and Wendy Burton have been collecting vernacular railroad photographs for many years, poring through disorganized boxes of snapshots at train shows and swap meets. With a keen editorial eye they have sought out the unusual, the lyrical, the pastoral, and the urban, ultimately assembling a collection that includes railroad landscapes, locomotives, bridges, and people primarily during the age of steam. This fascinating assemblage will appeal to fans of vernacular photography and rail fans alike. It is accompanied by an essay that includes a brief discussion of the aesthetic evolution of railroad photography in the early to mid-twentieth century and the phenomenon of the International Engine Picture Club, which acted as a clearing house and swapping mechanism for rail fans.
Jeff Brouws is a fine art photographer and part-time writer who has nine books to his credit, authoring five on railroad photography alone. He has been published in Trains, the NRHS Bulletin and the R&LHS Quarterly. A book of his own photographs, Approaching Nowhere (also from W. W. Norton) was published in 2006. His photographs can be found in major institutional collections around the country including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Princeton University Art Museum, Harvard's Fogg Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Wendy Burton is a photographer whose work is included in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the North Dakota Museum of Art among others. She has worked in the publishing industry for thirty-five years in various capacities. She and her husband Jeff Brouws have produced five books of railroad photography including The Call of Trains, A Passion for Trains, Steam: An Enduring Legacy, Some Vernacular Railroad Photographs and A Steam Odyssey.