Choosing active train routes as a shoot location has claimed yet another life last Saturday. This time it was fitness model and instructor Greg Plitt. When are we going to learn that these locations are dangerous and should be avoided. Putting your life in danger isn't worth the shot, ever.
Police say Plitt was filming an ad with friends for a protein shake when the accident occurred. A witness recalls seeing him stumble near the tracks with his camcorder in hand. The locomotive was reportedly sounding its air horns, it's not likely the crew was unaware of the approach. Plitt was known for his workout videos, which often take place on or near railways. The former Marine had found success on television recently with Bravo’s reality show "Workout," and was a body double in "Watchmen." He had also recently been cast in an upcoming Bravo show called "Friends to Lovers."
Greg Plitt in "A Call To Action VI" via YouTube.
Add this unfortunate event to the ever growing list of reasons not to utilize train tracks for shoots. The most recent and mainstream media tragedy may have been Hollywood's "Midnight Rider" disaster in May of last year. Photographers routinely mock the cliche train tracks shot, yet people still envision the concept working for them. Instead, Find a unique location, sans the 10,000-ton machine that has limited ability to stop. Another major deterrent is the fact you are trespassing on private or federal land. If caught, you are subject to fine and possible removal of your photos from the publication. Photographing on or near the tracks may also land you on a government watch list.
If you or your client insists on using railways for the shoot, contact the owner and request a permit or an escort. The historic railroad in my hometown has been more than accommodating for my clients and myself to use their facilities, when properly notified. They might even surprise you and let you into an elegant historic car.