A few weeks ago, together with the rest of the committee of the Northern Region of the Master Photographers Association, I organised a professional photographers’ training day at Oakworth Railway Station on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. Oakworth station is set in the 1950s, and it’s main claim to fame is that it was used in the filming of The Railway Children. It is still very well looked after by the K&WVR volunteers, who keep the stations along the route, and the engines, in very good nick.
A couple of weeks before the event itself I visited Haworth for the day and had a good look around – I was looking for a good backdrop for trainer Stuart Wood to do his stuff, and fellow photographer Phill Andrew had suggested the station as a possible set. The underlying plan was in the back of my mind, but was rapidly brought forward as a matter of circumstance. First, I booked surprise tickets for my family to see The Railway Children at The National Railway Museum in York at the end of August. This triggered a site seeing trip to Haworth two days later, during which I spotted a 1950s costumier, one of those serendipity moments that help to bring a good plan together. Next, after chatting to the railway volunteers, and chiefly a very helpful Roger France, it became clear that the best day for us to put this together was a footplate experience day. These are days when the steam engine runs through the station on a loose schedule if any at all, the stations are manned, but there is no public admittance. It meant we could photograph freely without getting in the way, and more than that, we could hold the train briefly in the station as it passed through. I hoped for 5 minutes but in the end we got much longer.
Great plan, one problem – the next footplate experience day was 4 weeks away, which left very little time for marketing and selling the day, and the next opportunity would be well into 2016. We decided to go for it, ‘full steam ahead’ as it were!
Anyhow, to cut a long story short, all went extremely well. I invited two of my favourite ex brides and a favourite ex groom to come along and model for us – Jannine and Zoe, and Jannine’s hubby Scott. All three of them put in a massive effort by calling to the costume shop the night before, each having two costumes for the day. We all gathered at a local pub first thing on a very foggy morning, and after the models had their hair and make up created by the professionally proficient and efficient Harriet Steele, we made our way collectively to Oakworth Station for the shoot itself.
Now I’m not going to give away Stuart’s secrets here, the lessons were hard learned by the delegates through sweat, toil, tears, and hard earned crumplies, but what a fabulous day, loads of fun, and plenty of opportunity to work ‘off flash’ as well as on as Stuart taught his stuff. A bit of a one off, this, not easy to repeat in such a unique setting. I’ve added some of my favourite photos from the day itself, and extend massive thanks to all the models, the H&MUA, Stuart Wood, The Old Silent Inn for their amazing hospitality, the K&WVR staff who could not have been any more helpful, the NRMPA committee, and last but not least, the delegates who supported the day.
Have posted some pics Yorkshire photographer, but here are some more favourites from the day.
The calm before the steam!
Harriet Steele quietly getting on with it.
Perfectly styled in 1950s outfits and make up, thanks to all our models, Zoe (seen here), Jannine and Scott.
Stuart demonstrates his reflector technique
Behind the scenes view of the lighting
Very atmospheric, hair and make up by Harriet Steele.
All set to photograph the train as it arrived on platform
Hair and make up by Harriet Steele – an amazing job following a very short notice brief.
Shooting for the bump!
Fond fairwell by the ticket office door!
Controlling the light
Holding off the direct sunlight
Mr engine driver pumping up the steam for Stuart. Phill Andrew on lights, as we briefly held the engine in the station to get the big shots.
There ya go, perfect Rembrandt!
Blocking light, adding light, it’s all happening!