We talk with Scott Lothes, President and Executive Director of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art.
Fascinated by railroads from birth, I grew up watching coal trains in West Virginia and took up photography while attending college at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. After getting a degree in mechanical engineering, where I learned that I am not an engineer at heart, I spent three years as the assistant editor of the engineering magazine Sound & Vibration and two years as an English teacher at a high school in Sapporo, Japan.
After coming back from Japan, my wife and I lived in Oregon for three and a half years while she got her master’s degree from Oregon State and I did freelance work as a writer, photographer, and web designer. That included several projects for the Center for Railroad Photography & Art, which led to me becoming the organization’s full-time executive director in 2011. I'm passionate about building up our collections and producing publications and exhibitions that bring the railroad story to the general public.
As a photographer, I’m drawn most to the relationships between railroads and landscapes. I like dramatic light and complex compositions with wide angle lenses that take in a lot of foreground and emphasize context. I left a piece of my heart in the Pacific Northwest, but I've enjoyed the Upper Mississippi Valley since moving to Wisconsin. I have recently discovered the joys of European railways, especially those in the Swiss Alps. I love history, geography, travel, literature, podcasts, and hiking--preferably with my dog. Railroad photography allows me to combine many of those, often at the same time.