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Let's catch a train and never look back

Whew, Who even am I? Writing/starting a blog has never been something on my radar for my photography business but here we are folks! I can't promise too much with these, while I love to write, I also have 2 kiddos who hate to sleep. So my time is limited and galleries of course always come first. But, we're gonna give this a shot!

Let;s start with some basic info:

My Gear- Canon eos R + Sigma 35mm 1.4 art

this session edited with: Flannel from my Nomad Preset pack (found in my shop here)

So all of that said, Welcome to my first blog post where I am sharing and covering my most recent couple's session, a long time in the making: "A train station love story". This session has been living rent free in my head since I shot it last week, but truthfully the concept has been in my brain waiting to come to fruition for over a year. When Anna, my lovely client, agreed to do this shoot with me, I was ecstatic. We collaborated to find the best outfits to fit the vibe I was going for, and Anna sent over the most perfect dress, with coordinating sashes, shoes, jackets and even matching vest and hat for her husband. I mean, come on! Perfection.

Once outfits arrived, which took a bit since Anna had her dress custom made for her measurements, we couldn't plan it fast enough. The day of the session we met down at the La Crosse Amtrak train station for a golden hour I won't soon forget.

We had a minor hiccup because, although I called ahead to make sure it was ok for me to photograph there, when we got inside and began shooting the employee behind the window let us know we couldn't be in there. Womp,Womp. So he graciously allowed us a few more shots and then we left to the back of the train station outside. I am a bit sad because I had a few ideas I really wanted to execute inside that we didn't get the chance to but I am so happy with what we were allowed to get!

My approach for the indoor shots was to document a story. I didn't want things to feel too stiff and posed, even though we were completely curating the scene. So, we brought newspapers and suitcases to help us with out storyline. I placed the couple on 2 benches, facing away fro one another, and I placed them on opposite ends as well, so that when I photographed from one side I could see both of them clearly, one front faced and the back of the other. When I am shooting I am always looking for composition, framing and any unique lighting or layering opportunities.

A well composed photo will hold the attention of a viewer for a lot longer and keep them wanting for more, so you're more likely to get someone looking through alllll the photos that way.

When we got around to shooting outside we were lucky enough to have a train coming up! If you've been around my social medias long enough, you've probably noticed I love slow shutter speed. I think being able to manipulate a frame to show movement is so important, and really lends to storytelling, so of course I knew I needed to capture the train with a slow shutter as it barreled down the tracks past my clients.

Motion Blur-

I am often asked how to achieve the motion blur in photos and the best tips I have are to play with your shutter speed to find the right amount of blur for you. As you can see in the first photo here my client is walking and the train is moving, so my slow shutter speed blurred them both, but I don't really mind it here, it works for the storyline. The second image above I used a faster shutter speed because I wanted to make sure you could see the front of the train coming with the lights, I knew this was a cargo train and the engine was the best looking part of it all so I didn't want to miss it! And the 3rd photo, the black and white, I achieved with slow shutter and still clients. I had my clients stand (a safe distance from the tracks) and embrace, I then used my slow shutter speed, and I shot a bit lower in order to capture the train behind them completely and not get the tracks in the shot where we would see mostly open ground due to the speed of the wheels rolling by under the cars. Having my clients hold still allowed me to capture them sharp and in focus while the train rushed past them in the background. Here is another example below though the train isn't quite as blurred due to a slightly faster shutter and the angle that I am shooting as well.

After the train past us, I utilized some leading lines, spotlight and gorgeous old architecture/lighting that still adorns this old station. You can just picture this place in it's heyday, full of travelers, eager to get to new destinations. I love the nostalgia.

Double Exposure-

Another thing you may know if you have been around me long enough is that I love double-exposures and composite work. So of course, I had to bring a double exposure to life here. I started with a close-up shot of my clients, seen below on the left (my camera has a setting to allow you to take a double exposure image but also capture each image individually on the SD card as well so thats what you're going to see below) and then I moved them to stand under the cover of the train station. I positioned the first image so I could frame them in the vest of my client and have their faces on the roof of the overhang as much as possible allowing their faces to remain mostly unobstructed.

When all was said and done, I was left with this amazing in camera double exposure that I can't see myself topping any time soon.

I have many more photos from this session I will share with you below, and if you have any questions please let me know! I also offer mentorships, and I have my online school available as well. Created with Annie Nelson of Annie Nelson Photography, we made this self-paced online school to cater to allllll levels of photographers. Head over to and check out the school there!



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