O. Winston Link
Birmingham Special, Rural Retreat, V.A., December, 1957
Paper: 15 15/16 x 19 7/8 inches
O. Winston Link
O. Winston Link Biography Pioneer American photographer, O. Winston Link, is a commercial photographer best known for his images of steam locomotives. Unlike the street photography of Link’s time which was dependent on the natural light available, Link used a shooting method that was truly unique. His technique employed elaborate staging and synchronized flashes on a large scale. He developed new forms of lighting equipment, rigging 43 flash bulbs to strike simultaneously in his effort to capture the locomotives in action at night. In addition, Link used a large-format camera as opposed to the popular 35mm. Link was born in 1914 in Brooklyn, NY and as a teenager he developed early interests in photography, locomotives and rail yards. Link received a civil engineering degree from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1937 and son after he took a job as a photographer for a public relations firm, an act that launched his lifelong photographic career. Link worked for over 40 years as a commercial photographer with his most famous project being the series of the Norfolk and Western Railway, due to his desire to document a part of the United States’ history that was quickly fading. Link was eager to photograph the end of the steam engine in such a way that the images would be a long lasting tribute to this period. Link’s photographs present a combination of nostalgia and technical virtuosity. His work was appreciated for the degree to which he controlled, planned, and constructed each image. Link has published two books of his work: Steam, Steel, and Stars (1987) and The Last Steam Railroad in America (1995). Beginning in 1983 Link’s photographs began to be exhibited in several museums in the United States, Europe and in Japan and is in numerous major museum collections around the world. Today there is an O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, VA dedicated to his photographs, audio files, and video works documenting the last days of the steam locomotives along the Norfolk and Western Railway. He died on January 30, 2001 in Katonah, NY.