In March of 2012, I attended a Photoshop World Pre-Conference Session with Joe McNally and Moose Peterson. We took a trip to the Sully Historic site in Virginia where they planned a civil war reenactment. As the bus pulled around the bend, we were transported back in time!

The tents, buildings and all sorts of props were authentic. To top it off, the reenactors took their roles very seriously as they stayed in character for the entire trip. As a special treat, Dr. Russell Brown from Adobe joined us as President Lincoln. It was my job to photograph Dr Brown… err President Lincoln. This is how I got the shot.

Quick settings overview

  • Nikon D700
  • Nikkor 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens
  • Shot at
    • f/6.3
    • 1/1000 sec shutter speed


While the attendees were busy shooting, I took President Lincoln and a Union solider down an old dirt path. At first, I had them casual talk to each other as they walked up and down the path. I did this to get my camera settings dialed in plus talking to each other helped get them into character.

The Storyline

Once the camera settings were dialed in I created a story for the two reenactors to act out. I told the young union solider to ask President Lincoln if he could take a week off from fighting to visit his dying mother. His father and two brothers were killed in battle and he is the only surviving male left. His younger sisters are doing the best they can but need help. President Lincoln understands his struggles but needs him to push on. The story line was intense! Dr. Brown jumped into character and explained to the young union solider why he needs to hang in there and do his part.

Storylines are a great way to get the model / actor involved in the shoot. It helps bring emotion to the photo. With that said, not every photo shoot needs a storyline. If you find your model / actor is lost, collaborate with them on a story and see where it leads.

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