Trains have captured Gilbert photographer Mark Lipczynski’s fascination since he was young and his latest project shows just how fast time, and his subjects, can fly by.
The project, titled “Timeless Machines,” features images of trains as they barrel past.
They’re no ordinary photos, though: Lipczynski prolonged the camera’s exposure to transform the trains into endless walls across the landscape.
His “Timeless Machines” was named “Jurors’ Choice” in Filter Photo’s annual members’ exhibition last year. They can still be viewed at filterphoto.org/previous-exhibition/Mark-Lipczynski.
As a professional photographer based in Phoenix, Lipczynski has explored the trains and photography since childhood, when he watched and shot them with an inexpensive 35mm camera.
As an adult, he created the alter ego “Mark Traain” as a bit of a nod to one of his favorite authors, Mark Twain, and documents his adventures on Instagram and You Tube under the @marktraain name, mixing behind-the-scenes journals with footage and images of trains he’s chased from around the country.
Lipczynski said his interest in trains came from his father, who was an engineer in rural Ohio.
He said that through the pandemic, watching trains helped him feel a “sense of comfort and connection to my family.”
“I felt like that was important to share with other people in the world who might be going through similar things of feeling isolated, lonely, and disconnected,” he said.
For “Timeless Machines,” Lipczynski said he wanted to “work in these ideas of time, time travel and memory,” and combine them with camera tricks that “capture time in a way that’s sort of ethereal and surreal.”
Lipczynski said being chosen for the exhibition “felt really, really rewarding.
“And it just justified all the work and the expense that I put into it building up to this.”
Lipczynski’s grew up in Warren, Ohio, where he would photograph trains with an inexpensive film camera.
He studied journalism at the University of Maine and after graduating, worked at various newspapers around his hometown, including the Tribune Chronicle, a then satellite paper for the New York Times.
In 2005, Lipczynski moved to Tucson, where he snapped photos for a local newspaper until the Arizona Republic hired him as a photographer.
Lipczynski said in 2008, at the height of the recession, he left that paper to work as a freelance photographer.
“It was rough, but you know, things in life sometimes get rough before they get better,” he said. “And that’s just the path you have to take if you want to grow as a person.”
Besides various newspapers and news websites, he also has photographed for PING Golf, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, the National Bank of Arizona and Banner Health.
Lipczynski’s personal work includes collections set in places as far-reaching as Japan, as seen on his Lensculture profile.
Another personal project of his, titled “American West,” chronicles his exploration of the American Southwest. According to Lipczynski, it’s important to “ingest some of that history and culture and understand a lot of the pain that’s happened here.”
Through American West, Lipczynski said he is “looking for where I belong or, you know, how we all fit and can exist in this place together peacefully and happily.”
Lipczynski said he builds model train sets in his spare time and is currently making a set that looks like an area he frequented as a kid in Newton Falls, Ohio. He said once the set is complete, he may photograph it in connection with the theme of “looking back in time” found in “Timeless Machines.”
Lipczynski said he can be found at a Gilbert rail line at least once a week, watching trains pass with a friend whom he met on the tracks.
View his portfolio at MarkLipczynski.com.