Virtual Conversations: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to CRPA

If you’re missing a good railfan road trip right now, you will not want to miss our next presentation for Virtual Conversations, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to CRPA,” by Oren Helbok and George Hiotis. See it now on YouTube.

For the past few years, George and Oren have turned their trips to the Center’s annual conference in Lake Forest, Illinois, into extended photography expeditions through the Northeast and the Midwest. While seeing trains was their initial goal, they found so much more, and they will regale you with some of their favorite stories and photographs in their presentation.

Helbok was born in the Bronx in 1965 and ran away from a steam locomotive the first time he heard one, at age two, but he very quickly turned around. Oren learned the technical aspects of film photography from his father, John, and spent twenty-five years in darkrooms before raising children and then going digital. Now running a non-profit arts organization in central Pennsylvania, Oren lives closer to more active steam locomotives than he could in any other place in the U.S.

Hiotis is a professional photographer who saw the beginning of his career by borrowing the family camera to take pictures of trains. He made his very first picture at the Jersey Central station in nearby Westfield in the mid-1950s, and his interest advanced beyond the hobby stage in the early 1970s. He has nurtured a great passion for railroads, in both their mechanical and human aspects, most often aiming for an unusual representation. He has won two grand prizes and one second prize in the Trains magazine photo contests.

Learn more about Virtual Conversations, the Center’s first-ever online conference.

This photograph by Oren Helbok shows a South Shore Line commuter train passing through Michigan City, Indiana, on September 16, 2019.