A story by Duchess Dorinda Courtenay, at large reporter
Last Spring I was scrolling through my social media, and I came across a stunning photo from an event in another Kingdom. It was a photo from the feast, and it was gorgeous. Beautiful dishes of food sat on a real trestle table. People with perfect garb smiled as candle light reflected from their eyes. For just a moment, I felt like I had a window into the time we study.
“I really appreciate the encouragement and opportunity afforded by this contest to showcase the Period over the Modern. I’m honored that my photograph was chosen among such gorgeous entries. Mistress Jennet & Master Rian are a true embodiment of the ideals of our Society.”
Not long after this, I came across a somewhat random picture of some fencing. One of my friends asked the poster “Is that from that war practice event they just had”? The answer came back “Nah, it can’t be from Æthelmearc – there aren’t any cars in the picture!” Ouch! Is that how we were known? Obviously, it can be hard to keep the modern out of pictures taken at events, but I knew we were better than that, and I set out to prove it with the Æthelmearc Fall photography contest!
“The tradition of simultaneously crowning the king and queen is one I learned in the East many years ago. I was very happy to see it occurring in Æthelmearc. My picture is an attempt to capture the passing of power from one reign to the next, to focus on the hands and the crowns, not the faces.”
Throughout the fall, the photographers of Æthelmearc were invited to submit up to five of their best pictures to the contest. For this first contest, there were few rules and no categories – just the general request that they be family friendly pictures and that attempts be made to keep out the modern elements that creep into our events. Several dozen pictures were submitted, and given my limited knowledge of the art form, Master Raeve Hella was invited to help judge.
“I enjoy the challenge of capturing the action of heavy fighting with my photography. However there are times when a shot like this, of the fighters waiting and ready, feels just as powerful to me as a shot of them engaged in battle.”
During the judging phase of the contest, I learned several things. First, it is very difficult to get pictures of martial arts that are devoid of the modern. In general, there are modern pads and braces, hockey helms and fencing masks, sword tips and inspection stickers, and lots and lots of rattan. List ropes are often in pictures, and at outdoor sites, it can be difficult to both get that special moment and keep the modern at bay. This lead to the second lesson – posed pictures are more likely to avoid the pitfalls than candid shots. For this reason, when done again, and it *will* be done again, there will likely be a category for each type of picture.
“It’s always exciting to get a capture without the mundane lurking in the background.”
When asked about the contest, Master Raeve noted, “One thing I enjoyed about this contest was the opportunity to see how people curate their experience in the SCA. Some documented moments, some constructed scenes, others hunted for the ideal as they saw it. What I had the opportunity to witness was a visual representation of the spirit of Æthelmearc. From that I have high hopes that this contest and similar events will inspire people to record our collective history.”
“I was happy to capture a moment from Sir Ian’s Laurel ceremony, including the solemn grace of Their Majesties and the rapt attention of Sir Ian’s son, Kai, bathed in the light and shadow.”
While choosing from over four dozen amazing photos, it was very difficult to select only a few to honor. Most captured priceless moments, and many showed the best of what we do. However, as that is how a contest works, winners were chosen.
Grand Prize Winner: Master Orlando di Bene del Vinta for the Viking in Winter
Second Place: the lady Karli of Heronter for Recognizing Sir Ian
Third Place (tie): Lady Zinoviia Ivanova for Battle of the Thirty
Third Place (tie): Sir Ian Kennoven for Baroness Slaine
Honorable Mention: Lady Ginevra Isabetta Del Dolce for Jennet and Rian
Honorable Mention: Master Fridikr Tomasson for Crowning the Queen and King
Grand Prize Winner
“This photo was part of a set that happened spur of the moment. Snow had just started falling and I turned to my roommate at the time and told her to get on some garb because I wanted to do some snow shots. I loved this opportunity because it was a chance to use my very modern hobby to capture the spirit and essence of my medieval hobby.”
Congratulations and thank you to all who took time to share their pictures with us. More of the wonderful pictures can be found on the facebook page “AEthelmearc Fall AS 51 Photography Contest”.
It is my intent to run it again in the spring, so start planning those pictures now!