By Mark Makela
For the past year, I embraced a fervor of the 1860’s that threaded itself from the 149th through to the 150th Gettysburg reenactments. I traversed thousands of miles across the country, documenting a sub-culture of “hardcore authentics,” Civil War re-enactors who honor the importance of the living history as though the war still rages. They took me in, enlightened me as to what once was, and allowed me to experience the mid-19th century world, set amid a contemporary landscape but transformed by a strict semblance of history.
Even before commencing this long term project, it was clear that all paths pointed towards the Gettysburg 150th anniversary. Thus, I loved the opportunity to cover the finale of the Blue Gray Alliance reenactment for Reuters. As my camera got waterlogged by the rain on Saturday night, I was down to one for Sunday, ultimately making the day that much more memorable. Often I find it’s a boon shooting with only one body. One must at least attempt to envision more of what the situation may be and make many decisions beforehand so as not to be changing lenses during opportune photographic moments. “If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera,” Lewis Hine famously quipped, but only having one does save wear and tear on your shoulder.
By Mark Makela
July 20, 3:30am; Wise, Virginia. Early morning darkness covered the hills and valleys. Despite the rain 500 people had already lined up for free medical and dental care. You know it is a unique shoot when your assignment begins here.
The day before I had driven 10 hours from Philadelphia to get to the Remote Area Medical (RAM) three-day clinic in southwest Virginia. RAM has been providing free healthcare since 1985 for uninsured and underinsured Americans and for people worldwide. This would be their 674th expedition. RAM began as a parachuting operation in the Amazon founded by the humanitarian, Stan Brock.