ST. THOMAS, ONT. -- When the request came in to take some pictures at the Elgin County Railway Museum, event manager Elizabeth Nagy had no idea just how complex a photography session she was agreeing to.

"(A man) just told us he’d like to take some photos with the #5700 (steam engine).”

The museum’s collection of vintage rail cars and engines is often a backdrop for wedding photo shoots, but this past Monday night Nagy realized this was going to be much different.

Daryl Granger, owner of Rose Le Studio, in Simcoe, Ont. has had a lifelong love of trains and wanted to combine that with his love of photography in one grand photoshoot.

“I’ve been a train fan all my life. And I wanted something really big, kind of cinematic looking,” he says.

His idea - to make the 1930s era #5700 steam engine, a 1940s rail passenger car, and station waiting bench seem alive again. To add realism he wanted a back story, easily deciphered by the eye.

From there, his plan to recreate a departing solider in the Second World War was born. “Because otherwise it would just be train shoot. But now there’s a story and it ties it all in and brings it to life. And that’s what I really like to do, is bring things to life,” he says.

Models for the shoot included real-life husband and wife Chad and Melissa Post, of Simcoe. Neither are actors or models by trade, but their facial expressions are vivid in the series of photos, which have in just two days been seen by thousands on Facebook.

Melissa says it wasn’t difficult to place herself in the role and the time period. “Walking along not knowing when I’m going to see him again. It’s not a hard stretch to say goodbye. Just to feel those emotions and that feeling of, ‘I don’t want him to go.’”

Chad says the uniform helped him get the right mood for the iconic picture of the soldier waving goodbye. “Just being in the uniform, made me feel different. So I kind of got lost in it, I tried to be ghostly, almost.”

Granger used high-powered lights, smoke machines, and other photography tricks to ensure the pictures looked authentic, and the steam engine appeared operable. He also leaned on museum staff to ensure the smoke was coming from the right places.

In hindsight, Nagy says the Elgin County Rail Museum couldn’t buy publicity like this, and it’s greatly appreciative. “We don’t get a lot of traction outside our community, and if this goes farther we could see a lot of people that want to check out what we have here, and that’ really great for us,” Nagy concluded.

“Everyone went to go get changed, and they came out and it was 1944. Everyone totally fit the part.”