Connections: 2020 John E. Gruber Creative Photography Awards Program





plural noun: connections

  1. A relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else.

The 2020 John E. Gruber Creative Photography Awards Program theme is all about Connections

The subject theme is open to each individual’s interpretation related in some manner to railroading, with a limit of three digitally submitted images per photographer. Images must be taken within the last five years.

Submission deadline: May 1, 2020

Awards notification: August 1, 2020

Soo Line, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Oct. 4, 1969. Wallace W. Abbey, (c) The Center for Railroad Photography & Art, Abbey-06-116-31.

Submission Process

Applicants must submit:

  • Up to three images, must include location, date, and basic caption information
  • Name
  • Mailing Address
  • Email Address
  • Phone number

Images should be submitted as high-resolution jpegs with a pixel dimension of at least 3000 on one side.

Electronic submissions only.

Files can be sent via email, Dropbox, WeTransfer, etc.

The Center reserves the right to retain electronic copies for future publication, use on website, Facebook and other social media, or for public exhibition. In all cases, the photographer retains the copyright to the image. Submitted images cannot be watermarked.

Please send all submissions to


  • First place, $750
  • Second place, $500
  • Third place, $250
  • Judges Also Liked, one-year subscription to Railroad Heritage

The Center will publish the winners in the Fall 2020 issue of Railroad Heritage, and Railfan & Railroad magazine will publish the winners in a fall issue. The California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento will display a gallery exhibition of the winners, as well as several selections from the “Judges Also Liked” category.

About the Program

Noted photographer, author, editor, and preservationist of railroads, John E. Gruber (1936-2018) of Madison, Wisconsin, was honored on April 14, 2012, by the board of directors of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art—an organization of which he was the principal founder—by having the Center’s awards program named for him.

Now the John E. Gruber Creative Photography Awards Program, the competitive program started in 2002. It is devoted exclusively to contemporary railroad photography and attracts hundreds of entrants annually from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Winning photographs are published in the Center’s journal, Railroad Heritage®, and in Railfan & Railroad magazine, are displayed at the California State Railroad Museum, and appear on this website.

Gruber was a photography and preservation activist in the railroad community since 1960. His own photography was published widely, especially in Trains Magazine. In 1994, the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society presented Gruber with its Fred A. and Jane R. Stindt Photography Award. From 1995-99, Gruber edited Vintage Rails. In 1997 his intense interest in both photography and preservation, and his concern about the welfare and longevity of amateur and professional photographers’ work, led him to organize the founding of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art.

As an author Gruber wrote Classic Steam, edited Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography (published by the Center in 2014), and co-authored several other volumes of railroad-related images. His final publication was Beebe & Clegg: Their Enduring Photographic Legacy, published by the Center in 2018. The book serves as an enduring testament to Gruber’s detailed research, passion, and lasting significance in the field of railroad photography.

John Gruber, founder of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art. Photograph by Henry A. Koshollek