How You Shot It is a series where you show us how you shot an image. Many who use our presets love to share their special processing recipes. You can join the SLR Lounge Textures and Presets group on Facebook and share your favorite images and recipes as well! For our wedding and portrait photographers, please join the SLR Lounge Wedding and Portrait Photographers group.

Today’s post comes from Andrew Bird from Pennsylvania.



I started my photography journey just over a year ago and I really wanted to shoot fashion/editorial. A local photographer mentioned Model Mayhem to me, but also warned me that quality of work is sub par.  After searching, I noticed Jolie’s (model) profile and saw she had this amazing look that would be great for a 1920-1940’s era type image, plus she is from a small town called Jim Thorpe, PA. This town is an old town with vintage shops, mansions and wonderful bed and breakfast hotels all nestled in the Lehigh Valley Gorge. I immediately messaged her asking to consider a working with me. I never received a message back. So I decided to put the idea on hold, until either she messaged me or I find a subject that would fit my vision.

After 8 months, I heard from her. I was very excited and immediately set up a prep-session.  A prep-session is when I meet with my subject and discuss the ideas and involve them in the planning process. This also gives me an idea on how good  we would work together or not work well together at all. This is a very important process for me when it comes to my work. If I don’t connect with my subject or if the subject shows a lack of interest and creative drive to create. It will show in the image. The pre-shoot meeting idea I started using once I bought SLR’s Natural light Couple’s Workshop. Needless to say, we instantly clicked and the plan was in motion.

For this shoot, I had this vision where it was telling a story of a young actress who left the big city to start new life in a small town. With this idea there were a few issues I had to deal with: 1) Permits for the train station  2) Two businesses I wanted to shoot in, because it would complete my story. I can’t express how important it is to scout and prep for your shoot. It will save you time, money and prevent embarrassment. I would hate to be told to stop shooting with a client.  I went down to Jim Thorpe prior to my shoot with my girlfriend to take snap shots of the locations I wanted to shoot.  Then I shared the photos with Jolie on Pinterest.  I also talked to the township and managers of the businesses I wanted to shoot in to get an idea on cost for shooting. Once I explained to them the idea and my vision, they didn’t charge me a penny because they simply loved the idea and wanted the web format images to post on their Facebook page.

The main spot I loved was the train. I wanted to give the feeling of her just coming in to town for the first time. I knew this will be the key shot if I wanted to attract any interest to the image, let alone tell my story across multiple images.

Jolie was in charge of the outfits make-up and hair styling. This whole planning process took about a month to complete. We spent about $40 on supplies. She had her friend assist with clothing and hair. I had a friend as well assist with lighting, using reflectors etc. The team was en point and having a blast once we started. I couldn’t of done this with out them!

 How We Shot it: New Beginning

Once we were at the train station, the first major issue I came across was the sun. It was facing directly toward the train (Southeast) at 10am. I was really hoping for clouds, but that didn’t happen and with the weather being 20 degrees out with winds up to 15 mph, it was a nice challenge for all of us. I couldn’t have my subject on the right side of the train because there were too many distractions in the background. So I decided to stay on the left.  I asked my assistant to see if he could put a scrim between the sun and subject to diffuse the light and get rid of the harsh shadows on her face and body. I also instructed him to move it slightly to the camera, enough to where I would get a nice rim light around the hair.

Here is my set up:lighting-diagram-x4s60vsjjz

As for the posing, there was minimal coaching on my end simply because of the meeting we had prior to the shoot and with constant communication up to the shoot. She knew exactly the feeling I envisioned for this shot and most of the shots through out the day. This made it easier for me to concentrate on lighting, composition and camera settings. I wanted the image to be a little overexposed. I knew that when I go into post processing I wanted a washed out vintage feeling to the final image. I couldn’t be any happier with the final result. Especially when I had it in the back of my head for almost a year.


 Post Processing

For all of the images, I wanted a washed out flat vintage look. I used 6 presets. Everything else I manually dialed in to get the feel I wanted. Here are the presets I used prior to me manually doing adjustments.

Presets Used:

10e- soft B&W
31a- bright wash b&w
11a- portrait flatten- light
34- contrast fade-light

Adjustment brushes used:
+.05 exposure

For this article I did manage to get the same look with the SLR Lounge Preset System with minimal manual adjustments.

10e soft b&w
35b neutral wash- b&w amber
38 contrast boost heavy
02b yellow/orange
personally adjusted exposure and temp to your liking.
personally adjusted temp and tint to my liking.

Brushes used:

soft lips

 Camera gear and settings:

Canon T4I
Canon 24-105mm F/4L IS USM
Wescott 5 in 1 reflector
Black Rapid RS-7 strap

1/160 @F/4, iso 100

Final Image:



This shoot brought a lot of challenges my way from budget, working with other businesses and organizing people to give up their free time to see this image through. It was also easier because of the knowledge I received from SLR Lounge Natural Light Couples Workshop and Preset System. This was also achieved by people who had a common interest and goal to create a story and not make it about money. Be well and keep creating!

About the “How to Shoot It” Series

This educational series highlights amazing images from our writers as well as our community. The goal is to not only feature inspirational work but to provide valuable education for our photography community. If you would like to submit your work, please click here for more info on writing for SLR Lounge.