Awesome Everywhere!

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Retro Photos

February’s Awesome Ottawa award goes to Jen Rosenthal to support construction of a travelling photo studio — mid-1800s style — which she will use to take pictures of ordinary Canadians in Confederation-era costumes to mark Canada’s 150th birthday.

“Before the invention of photography,” Jen explains, “the only way to have a likeness of oneself captured was to commission a portrait painted by an artist. Obviously not something that would have been accessible to many people. Then, around the time of Confederation, the photographic image became a reality and photographic technology developed to an extent that even regular folks could afford to get their portraits taken by the itinerant portrait photographers that made their living travelling from town to town.”

“My project is a sort of educational initiative,” she continues, “aimed at celebrating the history of portrait photography and fashion from the Confederation Era. I have sewed a collection of Confederation Era costumes — for all ages and sizes, and made from 100% recycled fabric — and my plan is to create a travelling portrait studio to set up at events, museums, and historic sites in the Ottawa area and offer people the opportunity to have their portrait taken in the old fashioned style while learning a bit about portraiture back in the mid-1800s.”

The support from Awesome Ottawa will allow Jen to construct an old fashioned wood caravan, built over a trailer, that she will be able to pull behind her car. Inside will be the costumes, equipment, and props, and it will also serve as a change room.

Jen is a fashion and textiles historian and a former museum educator. You can follow her project on Facebook and Twitter.


Funded by Ottawa, ON (February 2017)