Tristan Miller

Since my earliest memories as a child, I have been fascinated by the loud, greasy, dirty, mechanical machines that glide upon the magic carpets of steel rails. These machines and their tracks stretch across the hills and valleys of my memories and hold a special place within my heart and soul. However, as I came of age and began experiencing more of what it is actually like to work and live with the railroad, I gained a greater understanding of who and what truly makes the railroads run as they have for nearly 200 years. From the days of the lumbering steam locomotives that gave rise to the diesel-electric engines of today, these machines are all impressive feats of human ingenuity. At the center of it all, no matter how the trains look, operate, where they run, or how they run, the people are the source of the souls that lie within these steel beasts.

Steam locomotives, in particular, are the most reliant on human involvement to keep them maintained and running as living artifacts of the past. Without the hardworking people who toil away on these machines, they are nothing more than collections of bolted and welded steel resting as an abstract art form. The dynamic between the people and their machines— the grit and grime, the sweat and steam—is the essence of what I have sought to capture in my work.

Utilizing digital photography, I actively attempt to capture the intimate moments of work taking place by these hard-working people. These moments of focus, interaction, and complexity are the superstructure of the compositional design that goes into each photograph. In a similar vein, the typography of each piece solidifies the content of the photographic compositions, making the actions of each clear and understandable. These people are working, completing a myriad of tasks that are all part of the machine itself. The photography and graphical elements seek to radiate this sense of connectedness and bring to the stage the amount of work and dedication that is needed to become one with these antiquated apparatuses. In the ever-changing, fast-paced world in which we live, sometimes society has a tendency to forget certain parts of the past. The chrononauts who maintain and operate these living, breathing artifacts are the people who intend to maintain their legacy to ensure they are not forgotten so that people can look back and truly see how far we have come.