E.F. Kitchen, a Venice-based fine arts photographer who works with platinum prints, spent years fascinated by the glint of light off of handmade armor. "It was a purely visual concept," says Kitchen, whose first name is Elizabeth and who loved "the materials, the craftsmanship, the creativity of the designs."
But as she got to know one of her craftsmen better, she was exposed to a world of retro-medievalists who are a kind of West Coast equivalent of Civil War reenactors. "Oh, my God," she said to herself when she encountered the Society for Creative Anachronism, which stages historically informed mock battles involving thousands of troops. "I had no idea people did this."
Kitchen's new book, "Suburban Knights: A Return to the Middle Ages," captures dozens of these warriors in full battle regalia — helmets, chain mail, shields and broadswords — posing against inspiring landscapes that could come from 19th century daguerreotypes.
A series of quotes (in old-time script) accompanies many of the pictures. One woman describes a battle in the woods as "the best hour of my whole life … I felt like I was back in 1100 or 1066 fighting in the Battle of Hastings." Says a knight: "If I hadn't found the Society for Creative Anachronism, I would probably be in prison, dead, or on a wanted list somewhere."