• Austen Hunter

A Romantic Photo Shoot at Union Station

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

Train stations are not the first place you'd go looking for love, but they seem to have a magnetic charm to them. Classic Hollywood movies like North By Northwest feature romantic scenes involving trains and train stations, driving home the notion that the paths of star-crossed lovers could permanently converge amidst the bustling crowds and packed rail cars that take commuters to and from their destinations.


During a recent shoot, we used the rich and romantic motif of a train station to convey a beautiful love story. But this wasn't just any station - this was Union Station, one of the most famous passenger terminals in the world. For Sloane and Cody, the historic Los Angeles Union Station was the perfect setting to showcase their relationship.

Cary Grant & Eva Marie Saint in North By Northwest

Union Station is an iconic historical and cultural landmark in the LA cityscape. Initially proposed in 1926, the decision to build a terminal for the network of Los Angeles railways was hotly contested at the time and rooted in controversy. Today, Union Station is the busiest train station in the western United States and nearly 110,000 people per day pass through it's terminals. The Station itself features some impressive architecture that is styled after the Spanish Revival and Art Deco motifs. The blend of these two styles appropriately and beautifully capture Los Angeles' transformation from a remote Spanish pueblo to a modern cultural and economic powerhouse.


In addition to the many passengers traversing through Union Station, you'll also be guaranteed to see various bridal parties, couples, and even the occasional quinceañera having their photographs taken on any given day. That's because Union Station doesn't (at the time of this post) appear to enforce photography permitting, so long as you don't use any lightstands or tripods. This makes it a boon for photographers, as within Los Angeles, photography permits are a frustratingly common requirement for many locations.

LA Union Station Photoshoot

There's plenty of great places for a stunning photo in and around Union Station. There are plenty of arches in the main waiting room and ticketing center to position couples under, which make for beautiful compositions. At around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, the light just absolutely spills through the station's large windows, and will give you all the light you need for your subject. If you're feeling adventurous, you can head up to the train platform and grab a photo as the train comes to station. Lastly, don't forget about the courtyard just outside the Main Building. it's a cute little enclosure that has some benches and greenery. At Christmas time, you'll find a big Christmas tree right in the center.


Okay, now let's get on with the stars of this article: my couple. Cody and Sloane were referred to me by a friend. They wanted to get some couples photos together just for the sake of doing something special and out of the norm. As we talked over the phone, I pitched her some locations for her shoot, but Union Station was the winning ticket.


For Cody and Sloane, Union Station wasn't just a place on the map, it was a fitting representation of their journey as lovers trying to make it work in the City of Angels. During our time together it was revealed to me that the young couple had moved several times within Los Angeles, and Union Station was the common connecting point between all these events. They even brought suitcases to the photoshoot to really drive home this motif (A really cute idea I might add)! Capturing their relationship here was especially meaningful to them, which is something I strive to achieve in all my photo shoots.


When it came to getting the shots, two components were crucial: the right equipment and the right preparation on the part of the couple. The equipment I used for this shoot was my trusty Tamron 35mm 1.8 lens, and my Canon 85mm 1.8 lens. You'll notice that these are both prime lens, but they served me well on this location. A wider angled lens would have helped capture the impressive architecture of the surroundings, but I gave that up in order to get some nice bokeh in my wider images with the 35mm.


This photo shoot is one of my recent favorites! Everything about it just blended so well together: the setting, the outfits, the dynamic of the couple. It's definitely one for the books. Come take a look at the gallery:


I hope you enjoyed the read! For more awesome galleries, take a look at my Pinterest account. I keep it regularly updated with my most recent work.

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© 2020 Austen Hunter Photography