Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
It has been a long time since I took a step back from my usual style of photography and created something just for the pleasure of owning a camera and knowing how to use it. With the end of the high wedding season coming to a close, I wanted to take the opportunity to spur my passion for creating pictures and to take hours out of my own free time, to create something special with a friend. My aim was to rekindle the reason I became a photographer in the first place whilst practicing new ways of shooting and improving my craft. So it was goodbye wedding work and hello to my end of summer project; Vintage Steam!
This year marks one hundred years since the start of World War I with several events happening nationally around the country. The most infamous at present is perhaps the flow of 888, 246 ceramic poppies that form a sea of red from the Tower of London into the moat, each one representing a man or woman who sacrificed their own life for their country.
Knowing that my life would not be what it is today had it not been for these brave people, I decided that I would remember the anniversary of the fallen and for those who fought for us with something a little more positive in tribute, by transporting myself back to a time when war was only just breaking out.
I firstly had to convey in my head what the era meant to me and how I could project those visions into pictures. I sat with my notepad and pen at my window and jotted down key words that sprung to mind. Before I knew it, a story was already forming…the tale of an upper class girl who thought she had it all, until her man was called to service. Leaving her behind, she realised that money cannot save you from everything.
I called upon my good friend Kate who is a lady in every sense of the word. Stylish, sophisticated and a keen follower of vintage fashion herself, she was perfect to play the role of my lost and lonely railway girl, waiting for her love to come home. The fact that Kate is not a model by trade made the shoot even more exciting, knowing that we’d both have to work together to embody the story of the shoot, instead of relying on typical fashion poses.
It was a sunny September morning when we arrived at the Railway Centre, teeming with beautiful carriages and majestic old steam trains. Of course, the trains were not running as we were allowed to work around them, which fortunately we knew would be the case. To ensure that the shoot came out looking like a still from a war film, we had prepared ourselves by bringing along a few smoke bombs to replicate the steam from the funnel. To my absolute delight, they worked a blooming treat and nobody has questioned the source of it yet!
My intention was to use the dark and gritty location juxtaposed to the well dressed character through the styling. I was over the moon that Kate knew exactly what I was looking for when I spoke to her in planning and came in perfect period costume for the shoot. The red of the hat and coat against the darkness of the train complimented each other perfectly, whilst the black dress gave a wonderful contrast to the first look, offering a much more sombre feel which worked brilliantly for era relevant edits in monochrome.
I had such a wonderful day bringing this story to life through a personal project and I do hope to carry out another in the near future. A splendid day made only better when I recently discovered that one of the images was awarded a prestigious Gold Award by the Guild of Photographers in the September 2014 competition.
My greatest of thanks go to beautiful Kate and the helpful staff at the Buckinghamshire Railway centre for allowing me to come away with photographs I’ll cherish forever as a positive sprung from a negative.
I am delighted to announce that the Gold Award image above was selected to be on the front cover of “Creative Light” magazine. This is such an honour and a huge thank you goes to Julie Oswin for making this happen!