Civil War Reenactors

 This series is on view through the end of March, 2017 at Tara Vis Gallery, 218 C King Street, Charleston, SC.  Only open Thursday – Sunday 10 – 6 pm or contact the gallery through their website: https://www.taravisgallery.com/

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Installation.

Artist Statement: 

When I tell people that I’ve been making and selling tintype portraits at civil war reenactments since 2014, I am often greeted with surprised or puzzled reactions. I have come to realize the public occasionally make broad assumptions about reenactors, which are sometimes quite negative. My experiences with reenactors have been very positive. Generally they are some of the most hospitable, kind and warm people I’ve ever met. They obviously love history and are committed to educating the public about our country’s past. Attending a reenactment or “living history” event is very much like going back in time to the 1800s for a weekend. People camp out in period-correct tents and go to great lengths to ensure their clothing, weapons and accessories are all accurate reproductions. It’s truly a fascinating experience.

I decided to make this series because of the confusion I encountered from the general public about this hobby. I decided to only approach reenactors who impress me (for whatever reason) and ask them to sit for portraits free of charge. They receive no compensation. I have found it to be an interesting coincidence that many people I’ve approached for this series are artistic, creative people. I’ve always loved making portraits because I find people fascinating. I’m a shy person and I find the camera is a bridge which allows me to communicate with my subject from a place of relative “safety” (behind the camera). The accompanying bios are compiled from their answers to a few questions I asked them. I share the text in an attempt to educate the public about the reasons why reenactors do what they do, and it was interesting for me to find out a few more details about these fascinating people.


NOTE:  Prints are available (Contact me directly) They are all 8 x 10 inches and limited edition of four (4) prints only. The original wet-plate images are various sizes and not for sale (I have added them to my personal collection).


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Portrait of Jeff Clarke

Jeff Clarke

Lives in Athens, Georgia

Why do you do civil war reenacting?

Civil War Reenacting allows me to relate history to others in the first person.

How did you first get interested in it?

I have always loved history. Several years ago, I went to a reenactment. Everyone was so nice, and eager to share their love of history. I was hooked!

What do you do for a living?

I am an Historical Consultant. I work with film, television, museums and living history groups.

Tell me a bit more about yourself.

I was a consultant and historian for the Emmy nominated miniseries “The American Revolution.” I have appeared on several episodes of “America: Facts v. Fiction“. I have also worked on various shows for The Discovery Channel, AHC, and Public Television. Presently, I am working on a miniseries for PBS. I also volunteer my time to speak to various organizations and school groups about America History.


Photographer’s Note:

Jeff was pointed out to me by a friend as he was walking past the vendor area at the Battle of Resaca reenactment in Georgia in 2016.  He looked just like Buffalo Bill and I immediately wanted to make his portrait. I actually ran after him and he agreed to sit for a portrait right then and there.


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Portrait of Brandon Lunday and Marquett Milton

Brandon Lunday

Lives in Lynchburg, Virginia

Why do you do civil war reenacting?

Teaching people the untold history of the war is paramount, but it’s also a fun hobby and a cool feeling to put yourself in that time period, if only for a weekend.

How did you first get interested in it?

I got into the war for southern independence reenacting when I was 11.  Family history is in the army of northern Virginia, army of Tennessee and Florida Home Guard and just a genuine interest in conflict history. There was a reenactment in my home town Ocala, Florida that my dad used to take me to when I was little and one day of my own accord I started talking to folks at the reenactment and got into the 9th Florida, Company B as a runner.

What do you do for a living?

I do landscaping now, but I’ve been a migrant farmer from when I was 20 (I’m 27) until about 4 months ago.

Tell me a bit more about yourself.

When I was 20 I took a 5-year hiatus from the hobby to hitch hike the country and work on vegetable and fruit farms harvesting. After 5 years I went back to Florida for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Olustee and remembered why I loved it so much!


Photographer’s Note:

I saw Brandon by the vendor tents at the Battle of Gettysburg, PA reenactment, 2016.  He was barefoot and wearing patched pants (a campaigner impression). I asked him to sit for a portrait and the next day he arrived with Marquett. Their “back story” was that they had grown up together on the plantation and when Brandon joined up to fight for the confederacy his friend and former servant came along with him to make sure he stayed safe.  I liked the story so I posed them seated in front of my own tent to convey that they are friends on an equal level.  I have since spent time talking with Brandon at a few events and have found him to be a very outgoing, fun person to be around.

Marquett Milton

Lives in Washington, DC

Why do you do civil war reenacting?

I believe main-stream media and education do not teach students or the public enough about those men who served and died. This isn’t just a hobby, it’s about my culture and teaching kids about their heritage. I love what I do.

How did you first get interested in it?

In high school I was shown the movie “Glory” and took an interest in the civil war. I later learned that my great-great-great grandfather had fought for the Union Army. After I attended a reenactment in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, I felt like I had found my purpose in life.

What do you do for a living?

I volunteer two days a week at the African American Civil War Museum in Washington, DC and also work at a flower shop.

Tell me a bit more about yourself.

I was a member of the Guardian Angels for two years in really bad neighborhoods and worked for a security company.  My goal is to become a comedian!


Photographer’s Note:

I had asked Brandon Lunday to make his portrait and he brought Marquett along with him.  I’m glad he did because I had a chance to talk to him about the role African Americans played in the civil war – on both sides.  He usually portrays a union soldier, but had always wanted to do a confederate impression which he did for the first time at the Battle of Gettysburg where I met him.  When he posted this image on Facebook several of his friends were very surprised. He explained that he did this because his goal is to teach history as accurately as possible.

 

 

 

 

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Portrait of Daniel Reed


Daniel Reed

Lives in Gaston, South Carolina

Why do you do civil war reenacting?

To honor my ancestors who fought and to teach history to the public. I love history! I definitely feel like I was born in the wrong era.

How did you first get interested in it?

My parents were sutlers (vendors) so I basically grew up at civil war reenactments. I started participating in the battles I was 15 years old.  I’m a Sargent with an artillery unit and also ride horses with a couple of cavalry units.

What do you do for a living?

I had a landscaping business with my brothers for a while and in the past I’ve worked for vendors at reenactments helping to set up and break down their tents.  I’m currently looking for full time work.

Tell me a bit more about yourself.

I’m a musician. I sing old country, folk, Irish/Scottish and civil war songs. I have written a few songs of my own as well. I play acoustic guitar, some banjo and harmonica.  I’m interested in flying, I ride horses, do woodworking and enjoy dancing.  I used to run cross country and play baseball. I love watching old silent films from the 1920s and old TV shows from the 50s-60s.


Photographer’s Note:

I originally met Daniel two years ago at the Battle of Aiken reenactment. He helped me when my canopy tent got blown down by the wind and became a good friend. He often helps me set up and break down my tent at events.  This portrait was made in Dundee, NY at Camp Tintype (John Coffer’s Jamboree for wet-plate photographers) in the summer of 2016.  I posed him in front of John Coffer’s log cabin. Daniel is a favorite with photographers at reenactments and was recently on the official poster for the Battle of Olustee, FL.


 

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Portrait of Zack Horton.(At the Battle of Bost Grist Mill, NC reenactment- 2016)

Zack Horton

Lives in Concord, North Carolina

Why do you do civil war reenacting?

I reenact because I enjoy keeping history alive in today’s world which seems to not learn from it. I also really enjoy immersing myself in the shoes of my ancestors. It’s a very humbling step out of the modern daily life.

How did you first get interested in it?

I started as a flag bearer at a 4’th of July parade back in 2012 with the 63’rd NC. I was introduced by my stepdad and I went for it pretty quickly without second thoughts.

What do you do for a living?

I currently work at a cabinet manufactory. I also make art and plan on going to college for design.

Tell me a bit more about yourself.

My interests vary all over the place from reenacting. I love video games, collecting old documents and coins. I can sing, rap and I even jam out to some new and old school metal. Reenacting is one of the few things people assume I do when they first meet me.


Photographer’s Note:

I saw Zack walking past the spectator area and was smoking a cigar at the Battle of Bost Grist Mill reenactment in North Carolina in 2016.  I thought he looked like he had stepped through a time machine from the civil war period.  He was young, thin and looked a little tired. I asked him to sit for a portrait and he agreed to do one that afternoon.  I later met his mom and friends at their camp and got a chance to talk with him about his artistic aspirations


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Portrait of Destiny Cheyenne

Destiny Cheyenne

Lives in Sanderson, Florida

Why do you do civil war reenacting?

To honor my grandfathers, uncles, and cousins, who all fought in the Civil War as CSA soldiers. As well as being born in the wrong era.

How did you first get interested in it?

The clothing, the etiquette, the entirety of it all has a romance to it that has been lost to time. I love every era except the one that I was born in. So I know this will be something that I do for the rest of my life.

What do you do for a living?

I am a Freshman in high school, studying to become a future Marine Biologist and I portray Living History.

Tell me a bit more about yourself.

I enjoy reenacting Living History, bringing back forgotten ballroom dances and etiquette, and traveling to historic sites and aquariums.


Photographer’s Note:

Destiny’s mother (a photographer) commissioned me to make her portrait at the Battle of Brooksville reenactment in Florida in early 2017.  I asked if I could keep this first image for myself to add to my series for my gallery exhibition because her mom had said she didn’t particularly like her expression in this image. I loved it!  I then made another image for her mom and everyone was happy.


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Portrait of Samantha Karlin

Samantha Karlin

Lives in Cooksville, Maryland

Why do you do civil war reenacting?

I first got into it 2 years ago through my boyfriend, but found my own passion in it. I love the history and learning to live the way things were at one point. I love sharing the history with others, meeting new people, and sharing a passion with others. I currently reenact as a civilian female and would love to learn more and possibly have another impression.

How did you first get interested in it?

I first got into it through my boyfriend. His father has been involved in Civil War Reenactments for many years before my boyfriend was born. He and his sister have done it since childhood and have helped me along the way.

What do you do for a living?

I am in graduate school to be a physician assistant. I graduate August 2017

Tell me a bit more about yourself.

I love the outdoors, hiking and trying to see more of the world. I hope to never stop learning.


Photographer’s Note:

I met Samantha at the Battle of Gettysburg, PA in 2016 while I was attempting to make some tintypes of the battle with all my gear on my little red wagon.  She approached me to see what I was doing and we got to talking.  She was such a friendly, outgoing person and her face just radiated kindness and warmth.  I liked her immediately.  The next day, she came by my camp and I asked her if she would sit for a portrait.  I liked the way her head was framed by the triangular point of my tent so I placed her there. The checkered pattern of her dress added a second geometric design. I like that this the portrait blends modern and old qualities.


 

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Self Portrait

Christine Eadie

Lives in Charleston, South Carolina

Why do you do civil war reenacting?

I enjoy teaching people about the history of photography. I’ve always enjoyed learning about history in general.

How did you first get interested in it?

I started attending reenactments in early 2014 to make tintypes, but I wasn’t dressing out. I was always with the modern vendors. In 2016 I thought it might be fun to try to do a photographer impression from that time period.  Some friends helped me get more involved and I’ve since been embraced by the reenacting community.

What do you do for a living?

When I’m not making photographs, I work as a legal practice assistant at a law firm downtown.

Tell me a bit more about yourself.

I enjoy watching old movies, looking at old photographs, traveling and going to art museums.  I live with my teenage daughter (a college freshman) and our dog, Sophie.


Photographer’s Note:I made this self-portrait at my home studio in December, 2016 without any help (it was not easy!) To light the portrait, I used powerful studio flash, which allowed me to take the lens cap off and on without being “seen” as a motion blur. I painted the backdrop myself. It is a copy from a civil-war-period tintype which I found on the Library of Congress website.  The dress and the crocheted collar are both accurate reproductions. I made the cuffs and the belt. The camera is an Ansco 8 x 10 and was probably made in the early 1940s.  The lens is circa 1880s.


NOTE:  Prints are available (Contact me directly) They are all 8 x 10 inches and limited edition of four (4) prints only. The original wet-plate images are various sizes and not for sale (I have added them to my personal collection). 

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