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Todays veterans photographed with Civil War technology

(November 12, 2017) — Todd Garland stared down the camera with a stern look, blinking violently as the camera’s flash reverberated around the studio.

“I don’t think I’ve had that much light blasted at me,” said Garland, 32, smiling.

The blast of light was needed because Garland wasn’t sitting in front of a modern camera. The film in a tintype camera, a popular format during the Civil War, is not very sensitive to light and requires brighter flashes.

In honor of Veterans Day, Columbus-based photographer Stephen Takacs spent his Saturday making tintype photographs of veterans at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in Lancaster. Takacs, 33, of Franklinton, likens tintype photos to a 19th century version of a Polaroid shot.

“I decided it would be a good way to give back a little and acknowledge people who have given a lot,” Takacs said.

His studio is part of the “In Our Own Image” exhibition at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio. The photography exhibit opened Sept. 9 and runs through Dec. 31. Takacs has two more photo sessions: Saturday and Dec. 16; they are open to the public, not just veterans.

“I actually felt the heat. It was wild,” Garland said. “It’s definitely not like taking a selfie on an IPhone or taking a picture on an IPhone.”

Garland, who served in the Navy from 2003 to 2007, came to Lancaster to support his friend Takacs and fellow veterans.

“Anything I can do to always help support the vets, I’m all about it,” said Garland, who splits his time between Victorian Village and Golden, Colorado.

Garland knew all his life that he was going to serve in the military, but he always thought he would end up in the Army or Marines. It wasn’t until a buddy joined the Navy that he talked to a recruiter for that branch.

“I saw a lot of opportunity there,” Garland said.

Lars Lutton, who served stateside in the Navy from 1969 to 1971, amid the Vietnam War, also got his picture taken Saturday.

“There was a lot of conflict going on while we were in service,” Lutton said.

The 67-year-old lives in Glouster and in Edgewater, Florida. He was accompanied Saturday by Linda Flowers of St. Petersburg, Florida, and their faces lit up when they saw Lutton’s picture after it started developing in the darkroom.

“The picture turned out so hauntingly beautiful,” said Flowers, 69.

“It would be hard to guess what age he came from,” she said. “It could have been from Civil War to anything, it was beautiful,”

When asked what Veterans Day means to him, Gerald Owsley, another subject of Takacs’ camera, took a long pause before saying, “Recognition.” He served in the Army from 1974 to 1983.

“Thanks that we are a freed people. That someone had commitment,” said Owsley, 62, of Lancaster.

Megan Henry is a fellow in the E.W. Scripps Statehouse News Bureau.