New photography exhibit opens Saturday at Leesville art gallery

By Emily Burleigh

An opening reception for a new photography exhibit, “The Thing About Trains” will be held at GALLERY ONE EIIIEVEN at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 18.

The exhibit is about trains, and those that ride and operate them. It features over 60 photographs of steam trains and locomotives shot by the family trio of Rick, Tracy and Ty Smith.

The curation of the exhibit was a family affair.

Rick and Tracy have been photographers for over 40 years and passed down the passion to their son. They did this by curating vacations that intersected each family member’s individual interests – Rick is a history buff,  Tracy loves antiques and preservation and Ty is a “railroad fanatic.”

“Chasing trains” was the best way to blend their passions. Since Ty was 10, they have centered their trips around photography trains (some over 100 years old) that are still operational or static installations. They plan the trips a year in advance, and the vacations always involve history, preservation and a train.

“Really, Ty is the one that has the knowledge about the trains and has inspired us to go to all these different locations to capture these trains,” Rick explained.

The years-long endeavor has been a deeply bonding experience for them.

“It gave us something that all three of us want to do when we go on vacation. Each of us has specific things on that vacation that we look forward to doing. It’s a great balance.”

Ultimately, a shared love for photography is the glue that makes the trips special.

The pictures were taken throughout about 30 different states – including North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Hawaii – from 11 years of family vacations, Rick said.

Seeing a collective of their years of travel hung on the wall of GALLERY ONE EIIIEVEN is “extremely exciting,” he said. His favorite part of the exhibition is the cohesiveness of the photos.

“When I look at those individual pieces, I really can’t tell if I took it, my wife took it, my son took it. … That’s exciting me because the teqnuie and the composition, everything about the photograph is spot on, to the point that you really can’t tell who took the photograph.”

The expert technique that is apparent in each photograph makes him proud, Rick said. The exhibit shows the capabilities of a camera, and he and his family hope that “The Thing About Trains” will inspire others to learn how to use a camera, instead of using a cell phone to snap pictures.

Each photo will be accompanied by a detailed synopsis of the train it features, provided by Ty and his expert knowledge of locomotives.

The exhibition will be available for viewing from May 23 until June 22.

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