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Why is Steam Train Photography so Popular?

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Why is Steam Train Photography So Popular?

As the years go by different trends come in and go back out again. Some, however, stay around. In photography, we can definitely find different trends that go in and out of fashion. We can even look at hobbies and see how only some pastimes have stood the test of time. When thinking about a particular photography trend that has remained popular with both photographers and hobbyists, steam train photography springs to mind. But why has taking steam train photos remained such a popular activity?

One could argue that the passage of time can cause a hobby to fade. For example, due to its subject no longer holding the same relevance that it once did. This seems a relevant thought because they are no longer used like they use to be. 

On the other hand, the opposite can happen. Steam locos no longer used as much as they once were, it can now become a specialist interest. Also, a ‘much more of a talking point’-something that can be said for steam trains. In turn, it can cause something to become a much more interesting topic for a photographer. And steam trains have a lot of historic interest-again perfect for a keen photographer.

Steam Train Photography Today

Steam train photos are compelling to the photographer because the subject is essentially an interesting one. Obviously, for train enthusiasts even more so, but even those who are not ‘into trains’ will likely admit that steam trains hold at least a slightly special place in their minds. You could say they represent a bit more ‘beauty’, ‘prestige’ and you could even say ‘luxury’ than modern-day trains.

Steam train photography, popular activity

Photo Details:

GWR 0-6-0PT No: 5786 is seen at Caddaford Curve on the South Devon Railway working the 10.30 Buckfastleigh to Totnes Riverside service on the 25th March 2023

However, it is not just about the body of the train. Its engine that is attractive for photographers to capture, it is the subject in action too. For example, a steam train mid-journey, smoke pumping, on its way to its destination. There are so many interesting angles and shots that can be created in steam train photography.


To help something stay popular, it needs to be active and to allow people of the present day to be involved. Photography is something that manages to move with the time. There are now more ways than ever for people to get involved in it. DSLR’s, SLR’s, compacts, bridge cameras and of course smartphones are all at the disposal of a keen photographer these days. This highlights how more than ever steam train photographers have a wide selection of both classic and modern solutions to take their steam train photos and carry on with a hobby that interests them.

Nowadays we also have the advantage of the internet, meaning that like-minded individuals are able to socialise with each other and share their latest photographs. They can share tips and tricks as they go, helping to keep the hobby alive.

Steam train photography remains very popular, and this is very unlikely to change. With anything the popularity may increase further as technology in the modern age becomes increasingly digital and computerised. This will make steam trains an even more interesting link to the past. But one that still holds plenty of interest in the modern age at the same time.

How to Photograph Steam Trains will help you learn and hopefully get some great photos.

Photo Details:

LNER Class A3 No: 60163 ‘Flying Scotsman’ and Black 5 No: 44871 are seen passing through Totnes station.


I love taking steam train photographs. I also like taking diesel train photos, but steam is on top of my list.

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