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The Merchant House Museum is the preserved family house of the prosperous 19th century merchant family of Seabury Tredwell. In October of 2010 the museum reenacted the 1865 funeral of Seabury. Several actors played the roles of family members and the minister while the public was invited to dress the part as well. A wake was held at the house itself with a procession to the historic (and still in use) New York City Marble Cemetery for the interment.

The challenge of shooting historic costumes and events is largely about controlling the background. Either you use a very shallow depth of focus and work with your subjects to get a background clean of any modern elements or you end up with a photograph of someone carrying a glaive clad in chainmail standing in front of a Buick. Unless you’re actually shooting an album cover for a metal band that’s generally not the look most people are after. Reenactors range from gleeful hobbyists to serious historians with a rich and nuanced knowledge of the period they’re reenacting. Generally its the later who are more photogenic. When a subject has taken a great deal of pains to dress accurately for their period (which can be extremely expensive and time consuming even for a skilled seamstress) there’s a moral obligation on the part of the photographer to respect their pains and take care when composing an image.