Wildfire photo exhibit coming
The work of one of America's top photojournalists - wildfire specialist Kari Greer - will be at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum next month. Here's a tease of her amazing photos.
BONUS ISSUE OCTOBER 7, 2021 BONUS ISSUE
“As a photographer, I had been looking for my niche. Fire just bit me — it’s so photogenic.” — Kari Greer, wildfire photographer
The photographs of Kari Greer will be part of a new exhibit — ‘Facing the Inferno’ — coming next month to the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum.
Hot TRHM exhibit debuts next month
By DAVID STONE, Our Town exclusive
Exciting new exhibits will be coming to the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum in upcoming years, including a show that premiers next month about America’s wildfires.
According to museum curator Angela McCleaf, the wildfire exhibit will be one of several different — more contemporary — exhibits coming to Temple.
“We are essentially booked through 2024,” McCleaf said. “We want to have a little something for everyone, even if railroad history isn’t your cup of tea.”
Future exhibits include topics such as tequila, baseball and the Lonesome Dove television series.
“We will have an exhibit called ‘Awkward Family Photos,’ which is about people and their dogs,” McCleaf said. “That exhibit will be in summer 2023.”
While 2023 is a ways off, November isn’t. That’s when ‘Facing the Inferno’ comes to Temple.
The exhibit features the incredible wildfire photography of Kari Greer, a photographer with the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.
Kari specializes in wildland fire photojournalism, an interest that started during her college years after applying for a summer job in 1994.
“I’ve always been outdoorsy, and I wanted a summer job in nature,” she said. “I thought I had applied for a job working on a hiking trail crew for the U.S. Forest Service. So, I packed up the car and went. When I got there, I found out I would be training to fight forest fires.”
“As a photographer, I had been looking for my niche,” she recalled. “Fire just bit me — it’s so photogenic.”
Her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Wildland Firefighter and The New York Times. And in 2018, she was contacted by the University of Idaho’s Forestry Department. They wanted her to photograph an exhibit on forest fires in America.
“Wildfires are directly affecting more and more of the population,” she said. “Smoke from these have a national impact — West Coast fires even affect air quality in Temple, Texas.”
According to Kari, shooting wildfires isn’t for the faint hearted.
“Patience is definitely required,” she said. “Fire has its own schedule and pays no attention to man’s wishes. Safety is a big issue. Obviously, fire is hot and dangerous. But it’s the small things that will get you into trouble. Falling trees, rolling rocks, thick smoke. It’s a dangerous job with a lot of moving parts that Mother Nature throws your way.”
It’s also quite a rewarding job.
“Not only do I take images of fire, but also of firefighters working in extreme conditions,” she said. “Sometimes it’s really smoky, but smoke lends itself to capturing the perfect fire image. Smoke has lots of tones. Photos taken through smoke can have incredible green and yellow hues.”
Kari said ‘Facing the Inferno’ has been curated to immediately grab the audience’s attention and hold it through the power of images and storytelling. It is an ideal bridge for conversations between the arts and the sciences. In other words, it’s not just a photo exhibit.
While Kari’s breathtaking photos are indeed the star of the exhibit, they are accompanied by scientific text panels written by Stephen Pyne, a professor at Arizona State University.
Pyne is the author of 30 books, 21 of them dealing with wildfire. He is considered an expert on American wildfires.
McCleaf, the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum curator, said wildfires do have a local connection.
“Our own Temple Fire & Rescue has had folks out fighting wildfires on the West Coast,” she said. “In honor of our firefighters and first responders, we will have a week of free admission to the exhibit.”
‘Facing the Inferno’ runs Nov. 19 through Jan. 15 at Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum.
A firefighting helicopter drops a load of flame retardant on a West Coast forest fire in the image captured by Kari Greer. Kari’s work will be featured in an upcoming exhibit at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum. That’s Kari (bottom photo) standing in front of the exhibit at a prior stop. The exhibit debuted in 2018 but was on hold much of that time because of the ongoing pandemic. Sadly, the exhibit was set up in at least one location where it was never viewed because of COVID-19 concerns.