Living History Photography at Brattonsville

Event photography normally means weddings, birthday parties or corporate functions. Generally speaking, these are happy occasions where memories are made and the photographer is there, much as a journalist, to capture images that will remind future viewers of the details (and the emotion) of the event.

I have shot birthday parties and a variety of functions, but none of them quite like the day that I spent at Historic Brattonsville a few days ago. Each January Brattonsville holds a hog butchering day. No, the goal isn’t simply to make bacon. It’s an educational event that shows the importance that sustainable farming held for families in the 19th century. Far from simply being a food source, the hog provided resources for a wide variety of practical uses on a homestead. And it offers an excellent opportunity for some living history photography.

I know what you’re probably thinking. “Did they really butcher a hog, right there, in front of the world”? Yes, they did. Two of them, in fact. And the process was fascinating. Those spectators who had gathered around stood, almost motionless, in the rain for the better part of the morning, straining for better views and asking questions of those involved in the work.

The work, the tools, the processes and the concentration of the men involved all made for unusual photographic opportunities, as well as the scenes around the rest of the site. You can click to enlarge each of the photographs in this small collection of some of my favorite images of the day.

I’m sure my next event photography assignment will include birthday cake, or name tags or someone singing. But I enjoy these brief walks back into the 19th century for some living history photography. I hope you do, too.

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