NPR logo A Photography Phone Call: On Life, Faith And Trains

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A Photography Phone Call: On Life, Faith And Trains

Over the past few years I've been to a few photography festivals to review portfolios. When I first met Christopher Chadbourne in New Orleans about two years ago, he was showing some photos from a project about state fairs. I liked the photos and that was pretty much all we talked about.

Then I met him again a few months ago in Portland, Ore. This time, he was showing a new group of photos — views from a moving train. What's appealing about trains, he later explained on the phone, is how "you have no idea what's coming, so you have literally a second ... to shoot."

The metaphor extends to his life, which, about five years ago, was almost completely derailed by a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease. Oddly, that diagnosis got him back on track with photography.

After a few conversations, I've learned that there is so much more to these photos — and to Chadbourne — than meets the eye. Isn't that always the case? All you have to do is ask.

And actually, that's my favorite thing about this blog: the excuse to ask. Especially the big questions — over long phone conversations. It seems like a waste to not share them. So, without saying much more, I'll let Chadbourne do the talking in this little experimental video.

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Life is like riding trains is like photography: "You have to see the moment and get it fast," he says. "You don't get two chances."

Please leave your thoughts and comments.

Photographs from the series WONDERLAND: How The Railroad Right-Of-Way Shaped And Reveals The American Landscape