“Passing Freight” is a visual celebration of the unique beauty and function of freight train cars in United States. In 2018 there were 1,637,000 freight cars in operation across North America, each distinctive in their construction, markings and utility. Time and human contact add to each train car’s individuality: all carrying a vast, and sometimes surprising array of goods and resources. This series of photographs captures the still active rail lines that carry freight to destinations across the country. Mallon’s industrial landscape photographs isolate freight cars within this iconic transportation system, which has played a critical role in supply infrastructure across the continent for hundreds of years.
Like the electrical synapses firing in the human brain, unseen and invisible, but essential to our ability to function, 140,000 miles of train tracks traverse America. Countless loads of steel, grain, coal and everything in between travel supported by this ancient network of distribution. Mallon has been finding locations from New York to California, patiently waiting for the combination of light, subject and environment to capture unique images where they intersect. He has chosen the “decisive moment” to capture these speeding boxcars photographically. There is an intersection of mechanical and natural worlds, singular encounters where the trains activate the landscape, which for Mallon are fleeting and hard to predict. Patience leads to the essential moment when these elements come into position: the points in time where the colors and shapes of each railcar, all of the nuances of the light reflecting from the loads of steel, wood, and everything else are composed and captured.
Stephen Mallon is well know for his series “Next Stop Atlantic,” featuring decommissioned NYC Subway cars as they are retired in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean as artificial reefs, as well as his series “Brace for Impact”, which chronicles the reclamation of the plane which was successfully landed in the waters of the Hudson river by Captain “Sully” Sullenburger.
Mallon’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries internationally, and his work has been written about in many publications, including National Geographic, The New Yorker, New York Times, Vanity Fair, Wired, Stern, PetaPixel, Viral Forest, BuzzFeed, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, and featured on CNN, CBS, MSNBC and NPR.