Inevitably reenactors are regularly asked several questions, that we’ve heard over and over again, and invariably we joke about them. Some of the common questions I’ve been asked are, is that a real baby is that real food, do you really sleep here. The basic answer to all of those is yes. One of my favorite stories, related to when I was in the 4-H and raised angora rabbits. My mother an educator and textile artist would pluck and spin yarn directly from the rabbit, this perfectly normal and doesn’t harm the rabbit. One year at the Northern California Renaissance Faire, she happened to be spinning from one the rabbits, and as a woman began calmly explaining to her son, that the woman spinning was pulling the wool out of the pile in her lap, at which point the rabbit grew tired of sitting and promptly almost as on cue hopped of my mother’s lap, nearly giving the woman a heart-attack. The point is that doing reenacting, or living history, is that we are often actually living as if we were in that time period, at least within reason. and it’s actually very easy, simply perform some mundane task, like washing clothes or cooking, only in a style that is period correct to the era you are reenacting. To do this we use items that are more often than not, reproductions, antiques or period items. This means the items are not Hollywood props or toys that were purchased at Walmart. They are real working items, such guns, or my cameras. We also often create our own items and clothing, if we do not have the skill or time, we purchase items from craftspeople who can.
Reenactors in general, do what we do out of a passion for history and educating people through creating impressions, of actual people or people who could have lived. The benefits that we get are the enjoyment of spending time with our families and friends, learning about the era as well as teaching people about what we’ve learned reenacting.
Reenacting is considered a hobby, with most of the clubs being non-profit organizations. Like any hobby or organization, there are different levels of commitment and involvement. Sometimes reenactors only come out during battles, while others, count the stitches in their clothing, trying to ensure that everything is as accurate as possible. That clothing is just that, we, however, call it garb so as to distinguish our clothing from cheap Halloween costumes. This is not a cheap hobby, we as reenactors are not paid, we do this out of love.
With Battle Born Historical Photography, we are living history artisans. This means that when at an event, we live onsite at our camp. Everything in our camp is researched and documented for its authenticity as is practical.
Some of the questions we’ve been asked:
- Are you a vendor?
No, we are not vendors. We are living history artisans, using 19th-century photographic processes to take modern photos. They are not old-timey foto’s taken with a digital camera and printed out to look old. They are real tintypes or ambrotypes, taken using historic methods and equipment. We do however sell reproduction or antique cases and frames to accompany photo’s that we’ve taken, these are generally not sold separately.
- Are you really taking pictures?
Yes, I am really taking pictures utilizing 19th-century processes and equipment. And as result due to the nature of the process, I am an artist. it’s depended on a lot of different factors – I’m not taking “old-timey foto’s”.
- Do you supply costumes?
No, we do not supply costumes, sometimes the club can supply costumes, however, those are primarily for people interested in becoming involved in the hobby, you’ll need to make arrangements with the club about the use of appropriate garb.
I’m taking a serious photograph utilizing 160-year-old process which has earned the respect as being the most archivable form of photography, with photographs having been processed both on glass and tin, still existing today, looking as they did when they were taken. Do you want to be remembered 100 years from now wearing a silly costume? however, with that being said, I do have some props and you are more than welcome to bring your own attire.
- Can you give me a discount because ________ ?
No, utilizing this process is quite costly as is the investment both monetarily and in time. I can not just run to my local camera store and purchase items I need to take photos. If anything goes wrong with my equipment, chemicals or some major component is forgotten, I have figure out a solution to the problem or I can not take photos, I work at this year round, making things for the camp, practicing my skills and maintaining my equipment and chemicals. The prices I list are beyond reasonable. – if you do not like my prices, you are more than welcome to shop elsewhere. I’m not a commercial Vendor, I’m an artist who practices 160-year-old photographic process to provide you with an actual tintype.
- That Camera is beautiful, does it still work?
Yes, Why wouldn’t it still work? it’s a very simple device. it really is nothing more than a box with a lens, all of my lenses are minimal of 120 years old. they are true antiques, and difficult and costly to obtain.
- Is that camera an antique?
The answer really depends on the camera, the main camera I use is a modern crafted 8 x 10 based upon a common 1860’s view camera specific for wet-plate photography. The lenses, however, are all original 19th-century lenses.(see meet the lenses) My small camera, as we call it is an 1880’s era Rochester Optical & Co. new improved model originally designed f dry plate or film. it’s simply a basic view camera, that was designed to be used as a wide angle single view or stereo view. I have modified the plate holders to work with the wet-plate process.
- Did you make, or who made your camera?
No, I didn’t make my camera. I do not have all the skills or experience to do so, I have however made several of items that we use in the camp and with the camera. My camera was purchased 3rd hand. It was originally crafted Stephen Silipigni of Black Art Woodcraft. Eventually, I will likely have Steve craft a camera for me.
- update I’ve with some aid modified and changed the base board for my Black Art woodcraft camera
- Is the camera for sale?
No, I do however sell reconditioned antique cameras and/or can recondition a camera for you.
- How much does a camera like that cost?
Our Black Arts camera cost us $1500.00, today the camera is closer to $2000.00 – this was just for the box.
- Where do you find such a camera or lenses?
Commonly we find cameras and lenses through asking other wet-plate photographers. We often trade amongst ourselves, or other times, we simply find antiques at yard sales, antique stores or online through sites like eBay. Then we typically recondition and modify the camera’s to our needs. Most of my lenses are irreplaceable.
- The chemicals are still available?
Yes, the majority of them are commonly available. We typically purchase them from specialty suppliers of alternative photographic processes. While they are dangerous and can be considered lethal. The quantities that I work with are considered ORMD this basically means that they are no more dangerous than common household chemicals. however, as for safety, we keep a tight control on them. they often lock away when they are not in direct use.
- Can you use my digital image to make a tintype?
The basic answer is yes, however it is not practical or cost effective. It is at least 3 times the amount of work, with at least a month turn around. I need to charge at least 3 times the cost plus my Darkroom fees. Having me utilize the historical methods to take your photograph, so therefore, I generally will answer no. please see my basic price list
- Do you sell any of your photographs?
Yes, I sell framed originals, generally, I try to post images of originals on different social media sites such as facebook or Instagram, for prints of my digital photos along with a select few scans of tintypes you can visit my Zenfolio galleries. http://kristine.zenfolio.com/ Please note I’m working on building a stock of photographs that I carry with me to different events and processed and framed photos will always be more expensive than digital photos.