My name is Justin Franz and I’m an editorial writer and photographer based in Whitefish, Montana.
For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by railroads and history. When I was a kid, my dad would bring me with him as he traveled to photograph and watch trains. My dad was a talented photographer and many of his images were published in railroad books and magazines. As I grew up, I dreamed of seeing my own name in print and I spent much of my free time trying to achieve that.
I soon realized my photos would have a better chance of being published if there was a story with them. In high school, I started sending stories to rail-related magazines and in 2004 I had my first article published in Trains Magazine. It was a dream come true.
In 2007, I moved to Missoula, Montana to attend the University of Montana’s School of Journalism. While there I got a job with the student newspaper. In 2011, I won a Hearst Journalism Award for a profile on a UM student dealing with post traumatic stress disorder following a deployment to Iraq.
After graduating in 2011, I went to work for the Flathead Beacon in Kalispell, Montana where I work as both a writer and photographer (my editor calls me the Swiss Army knife of the newsroom). At the Beacon, I cover everything from city government to environmental issues, but my primary focus in recent years has been the criminal justice system. While at the Beacon, I have won nine first place awards from the Montana Newspaper Association, including the Mark Henckel Outdoor Writing Award.
I am also a national correspondent for Trains Magazine, the premier railroad magazine in North America and have written numerous cover stories about everything from technology to preservation.
My words and photos have been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines (and even a few books), including the Washington Post, Travel + Leisure, Atlas Obscura, Maine Magazine, Maine Home + Design, DailyDot.com, Mashable.com, Railfan & Railroad Magazine and Railroad Heritage.
Thanks for visiting my website and if you like what you see don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m always looking for new publishing opportunities!