The arrival of warmer weather doesn’t just mean blue skies, bright flowers, and chirping birds – it means people everywhere are going outside and posing for pictures. Whether it’s for graduation, engagement or just because, summer is a busy time of year for portrait photographers. And they often find themselves confronted with an unwise request from clients: “Let’s go take pictures on railroad tracks!”

But that’s a very bad idea. For one thing it’s illegal, and it’s a lot more dangerous than people realize. That’s why many photographers say no to these requests – but there are still some who haven’t gotten the word.

“It’s important for photographers and their clients to know that railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are private property,” said Rachel Maleh, executive director of Operation Lifesaver, Inc. “Being on them without permission means you are illegally trespassing and could be arrested and fined.”

Operation Lifesaver is dedicated to reducing fatalities and injuries at rail crossings or due to trespassing on railroad tracks. “Last year, 571 people were killed in railroad trespass incidents in the United States, an increase from 510 fatalities in 2017,” Maleh said. “At least 17 people have been killed and five injured since 2011 while taking photos or videos on the tracks. What’s heartbreaking is that all those incidents were preventable.” Read more at BNSF’s Rail Talk blog.