Claudio Bader shoots for the Swiss Federal Railways Magazine

Sep 16, 2020
Photographer Spotlight

In December 2019, Lugano, Switzerland-based photographer Claudio Bader completed a shoot of Swiss Federal Railways (hereafter SBB, for Schweizerische Bundesbahnen) Cargo’s new maintenance site in Chiasso, Switzerland for the April issue of the company’s magazine. Claudio has worked before for SBB Cargo, which is a subsidiary of the Swiss Federal Railways that manages freight trains. The new maintenance facility was built on the border between Switzerland and Italy and services trains from all over Europe.

SBB Cargo is getting bigger because there is a demand for that type of maintenance work. That’s basically why they wanted to shoot here, so they can show what they’re able to do and how it works.

Claudio Bader Swiss Federal Railways Magazine tear sheet

Claudio and journalist Michelle Russi spent just one day at the maintenance facility to get the photos and information needed for the article. A few of SBB’s workers had come from other stations across Switzerland to be interviewed, but in general the facility was quiet. Since the shoot was conducted in late December, many workers were already home for the holidays.

There was one guy who was cleaning underneath the train, and we had to ask him if he could do it again for the picture. He was ready to leave, but he had to put everything back on and go back down under the train again. He was cool about it, and we got the shots.

Claudio Bader Swiss Federal Railways Magazine first pic

Beyond working with limited talent, the photographer also had to get creative with the angles used when photographing. With active maintenance work happening all around the facility, Claudio had to ensure that he wasn’t going to be a part of a workplace accident.

In this type of environment, they always put security as a priority. So, you can’t really move about how you want. I always asked ‘can I do this?’ or ‘can I go there?’ before shooting.

Claudio Bader Swiss Federal Railways Magazine pic two

Fortunately, the maintenance facility had a lot of natural light that Claudio could work with, instead of requiring lighting equipment. Only a few of the shots that the photographer captured had some artificial lighting from the overhead lights. This made for a fairly simple post-production process as well.

The facility is quite good looking for an industrial facility. I think in the pictures it comes out quite well.

Claudio Bader Swiss Federal Railways Magazine final pic

For Claudio, this assignment offered an opportunity to explore a large facility that he didn’t know existed. Though the photographer has done work for the Swiss Federal Railways before, he didn’t know about the maintenance activities performed at this facility.

Also, what they’re doing, it’s quite fascinating. Maybe they just check the whole train, but it’s a very precise process because these trains are traveling thousands of kilometers. It was really interesting to see.


Writer: Michelle Russi 

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