About four years ago when I started getting into photography I looked for almost anything to photograph. I’m talking people, places, cars, food, nature, birds – you get the idea, anything I could point my camera at I would shoot. That is when I came across reenactments. Shooting people is a difficult proposition, it is really hard to just walk up to people on the street and take their picture. That is why I really admire photographers like Eric Kim who do street photography.
Anyway I ran across an article talking about how there were going to be all these people – reenactors – dressed up in period uniforms and gear taking part in this re-creation of a battle. This sounded cool and like a great opportunity to practice some people shooting, with my camera that is, not a musket like the reenactors!
So me and Deb headed up to Dade Battlefield State Park in Bushnell Florida off I-75 for some fun. It ended up working out great so I have made it to some more such events over the years. Another reenactment at Dade, this time WWII, the Brooksville Raid and an authentic Native American Pow Wow on the Starke Ranch. All yielding good results from a photography perspective.
So when I saw the advertisement for the 2014 Dade Battlefield Reenactment I knew I had to go. The battle is between U.S. Army forces and Seminole Indians, the incident that triggered the Second Seminole War. An ambush of a column of American soldiers in Sumter County in 1835. Of the 107 soldiers only 3 survived with very few Seminole being wounded or killed.
The battle is recreated in a historically correct fashion, there is no taking sides here, narratives from both the soldiers perspective and the Seminole Indian side are presented. This is more about remembrance, keeping history alive than it is about placing blame. The Seminoles were never conquered but blood was lost on both sides.
So to keep this post more upbeat and less a history lesson let me give you the great things that happen a these events.
First the reenactors are terrific, stopping to talk with everyone, allowing you to take pictures and all. They are average girls and guys who buy their own period clothes and gear and take a lot of pride in that, they love to show off. They will also be ready with history lessons as well.
So you can freely walk around in the camps for both sides and get some really cool photos. So how people lived back then and how their day to day lives were carried out.
The event also has period vendors like old school blacksmiths, weavers and tradesmen of all types. Selling reproduction goods of the time period to both reenactors and spectators. There are food vendors as well, fry bread is a big seller as it was a staple for both sides during the early 1800′s.
The battle itself is great to watch but hard to photograph unless you have a long lens. I’m a wide angle guy and ill equipped for long range shooting! But it is great to just sit back and watch history unfold before your eyes. As the muskets go off and the cannon booms smoke fills the pine woods, Seminole war cries echo as horses gallop up and down the trail. If you concentrate hard enough you can put yourself right back to 1835 on that fateful day.
See my entire collection of photographs from that day here - http://www.thecitruslens.com/Dade-Battlefield-Seminole-War