My husband and I commemorated the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville this previous weekend, the last major battle of the Civil War in which the Confederate Army was able to launch an offensive. It was also the largest battle of the Civil War fought in North Carolina.
For us, it was our last hurrah as period photographers making wet plate photographic images at Civil War re-enactments on Sutler Row. We have enjoyed our years commemorating the battles of 150th cycle. We’ve made many friends and had the pleasure of taking photographs of some delightful re-enactors and members of the general public who exhibited fascination with 19th Century photography. We’ve particularly loved the chance to recreate vignettes for people that have arrived prepared with props, period photographs to reprise or ideas for unique artistic expression.
Despite our love of history, the pleasure derived from making images that delighted our customers, and the exhilaration of being part of the 150th commemorations, one facet of our experience has been confounding. The most frustrating part of our participation on Sutler Row involves the lack of respect by spectators for the property of others – be it our traveling studio tent or the photographs that re-enactors have paid us to create. In particular we encountered many parents of the general public that seemed to think it is perfectly alright for their offspring to pick up the photographs, wander into our studio and run around as if they are at home, disregard the fact that we are conducting a business, dash into the roped off area, act as if the studio is a pass-through, blindly walk into the cameras, and then respond with offense if warned that it is not appropriate to poke one’s fingers on a glass plate. One parent actually said we should have posted a sign cautioning one not to bang the glass plates. Really?
What ever happened to parents teaching their children to have respect for other people’s property, to have boundaries, to behave in public?
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