John Sanderson, born 1983 in New York City, is a self taught photographer. His Railroad Landscapes are the subject of a one person exhibition at the New York Transit Museum through February 1st, 2015. Drawn to the topographically broad subject matter of the United States, his images establish a counterpoint between the documentary and poetic. Exploring the landscape in order to illustrate historic and contemporary motifs, Sanderson reveals a condensed history of the rapidly suburbanized and deindustrialized social geography unique to the United States. Drawn to the the unexpected irony, humor, and ephemeral historical qualities that are distinctly American, his work is a synthesis of people and places, rich in their ability to evince collective values and shared history.
Recently, Sanderson’s longstanding interest in railroad photography developed into a survey of railroad lines which collapsed as engines of urban economy and cultural activity beginning in the 1950s. Working with 4×5 and 8×10 large-format cameras, he is inspired by the 19th century photographs of William H. Rau and Carleton Watkins, whose landscapes are often devoid of the visual momentum a train carries across a picture — reflecting instead on the railroad’s value independent of its intended use. In 2013, Sanderson was a recipient of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art’s docent scholarship program.