The work of a legally blind, local photographer was recently accepted into a juried art competition and festival.

Tracy Smith of Vernon Parish has had a passion for capturing the world through a lens since she was 12-years old. Over the past 40 years she has honed that passion into a genuine artform.

One of Smith’s photographs was recently accepted into the 52nd Annual Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival.

Smith's photography is particularly unique due to the fact that she is legally blind.

She was born with a cone dystrophy which results in the loss of photoreceptors responsible for both central and color vision. She has also been diagnosed with optic nerve, macular and retina abnormalities.

Someone who is legally blind has a corrected vision of 20/200 or less in their best seeing eye and or a visual field of 20 degrees or less. This means that what the legally blind person can see at 20 feet, the average person can clearly see at 200 feet.

Only 10 percent of all people considered blind are actually sightless.

"I'm both honored and surprised to have a picture that I took to be displayed among the artists who have work in this exhibit," Smith said.

The Tom Peyton Memorial Arts Festival was established in 1967 by the First United Methodist Church of Alexandria.

The festival was the first juried art competition in Central Louisiana. It is open to artists in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas.

Smith, a member of GALLERY ONE ElllEVEN, has received recognition for other work as well. Among these are her photographs – "Afternoon Reflections", which was selected for a national juried exhibit competition and "Front Yard", which was in the 2017 Beauty of Vernon Calendar.

"I use photography as a tool to better appreciate the things I can't clearly see around me," Smith said. "Whether it's a photograph that I took or one that someone else took I can appreciate details in things that I would have otherwise have missed.

"I use photography to see the world up close."

The advent of autofocus cameras has made her efforts easier as she cannot clearly see objects in the viewfinder. "Prior to autofocus cameras I had to estimate the distance to an object and use the focal length numbers on the lens to get things in focus,” Smith said.

While some photographers have a specific area of photography they concentrate their efforts, Smith doesn't limit herself to a single area. "I enjoy landscape, sports, nature, portraits, wildlife – all things visual,” she said.

Smith's appreciation for all things visual is reflected in her love of painting, drawing and decorating.

In addition to Smith, GALLERY ONE ElllEVEN members Tony McDonald, Matt Stevenson, Isabelle Massart, and Ken and Cheryl Frischkom will have work in the Tom Peyton Exhibit.

McDonald and Massart are showing paintings in the exhibit; Stevenson, a sculpture; and the Frischkoms are showing their photography.

The exhibit’s opening reception begins at 6 p.m. on Friday April 13 at the First United Methodist Church in Alexandria.