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HomeContents > People > Photographers > O. Winston Link

Born: Ogle Winston Link 
Dates:  1914, 16 December - 2001, 30 January
Born:  US, NY, Brooklyn
Active:  US
One of the great railway photographers noted for his use of synchronized flash to capture steam locomotives at night.
The station at Roanoke, Virginia (USA) is now the O. Winston Link Museum which opened in 2004.

Preparing biographies

Biography provided by Focal Press 
Born in Brooklyn, Link pursued an education at nearby Polytechnic Institute in civil engineering. He worked at several technical and industrial research jobs at Columbia University before deciding to teach himself photography, opening a commercial studio in New York in 1942. After WWII Link did mostly industrial photography. In the mid-1950s one of his assignments took him through West Virginia where he photographed rail lines and locomotives of the Norfolk & Western Railroad. His fascination with the prowess and photogenic character of the steam locomotive prompted him to seek special permission from the rail company executives to have extensive access to the railroad equipment and personnel. With this agreement he began to stage elaborate night exposures of the steam locomotives in settings that showed the juxtaposition of the railway to the rural villages and lifestyle of 1950s America. Using massive reflectors and banks of flashbulbs, Link made large-format exposures (2400 negatives) of the night landscape, people, and locomotives as the engines belched white steam on cue. Several well-known pictures from this series feature municipal swimming pools, drive-in movie theaters and the like as citizens of the nearby towns pose candidly to create a surreal blend of organic life with the gleaming black locomotives. These photographs only gained popularity after they were featured in an article in American Photographer in 1982, followed by an impressive monograph of Link’s work in 1987. 
(Author: Ken White - Rochester Institute of Technology) 
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 

Further research

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O. Winston Link
Winston & Marteal in New Orleans, LA 
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.

Visual indexes

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Supplemental information


O. Winston Link

Two documentaries have been made about the life of the remarkable railway photographer O. Winston Link. The 1990 film is about his work whilst the 2005 documentary concerns the legal problems of the estate.
O. Winston Link: Trains That Passed in the Night
Produced and directed by Paul Yule (1990)
Running time: 52 min.
The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover
Produced and directed by Paul Yule (2005); edited by John Street; music by Donald Fraser; released by First Run/Icarus Films.
Running time: 79 minutes. 

Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer. Go to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
 Go to website

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Evans, Martin Marix (Executive ed.) 1995 Contemporary Photographers [Third Edition] (St. James Press - An International Thomson Publishing Company) [Expensive reference work but highly informative.] 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on O. Winston Link.] 
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