The Society for Creative Anachronism is an organization comprised of 60,000 adults who want to experience Medieval times, in their own idealized way. As Euan Forrester, who has a photo series documenting SCA’s festivities, told Slate, “It’s about recreating the experience of living in the Middle Ages, specifically the fun parts of it, and taking out the bad parts.
“For instance, people can wear eyeglasses, women can be fighters, nobody gets the plague, no one has to be a serf—that sort of thing. So when you come, it’s up to you how medieval you want to be.”
Whereas live action role playing (LARPing) usually focuses on a specific game or narrative cannon, and historical reenactments are meant to represent real events, SCA is more about playing around with the idea of what living in the Middle Ages could be like.
Forrester’s photos are infused with a joyful energy: however silly we may think it, these people are doing something they love. Observing the juxtaposition of modern life with the era that the participants are trying to recreate is a specific pleasure of this world. Forrester makes a point of emphasizing this in his photographs, which show battle gear resting in a car next to a child’s car seat, and a passionate gathering playing out against the drab background of a generic hotel conference room.
The craft displayed by his photo subjects is also genuinely impressive. One man is shown creating a part of his body armor, which Forrester says took 200 hours to complete. Another woman writes on authentic-looking illuminated documents, with gorgeous details and calligraphy. The feeling that comes across through Forrester’s photos is one of authentic commitment to a culture that is often the butt of jokes. “If you’re an outsider looking at these pictures maybe you have some skepticism. I wanted to overcome that skepticism,” he says.