Thursday, August 21, 2014

RESPECTING THE AMISH VIEW REGARDING PHOTOGRAPHY


 I read a very interesting article by author, Susan Meissner, about the need to respect our Amish friends views on photography.  The article is reposted below and oh, how I can identify with what Susan is saying.  I remember being in Holmes County thinking about how much I wanted to take the picture of the beautiful, fresh faced Amish waitress at Mrs. Yoder's Kitchen.  But I didn't take those pictures.  It just felt wrong to do that when I knew that was against their beliefs.  This article originally was posted at Amish Wisdom and I thank them for granting permission to reprint this timely article.  You can read the original article on Amish Wisdom at this LINK and see additional appropriate photographs there as well.

Respecting the Amish view regarding photography
By Susan Meissner

I enjoy very much taking pictures when I travel, especially of people who are different from me. I love catching people of another culture in a moment of ordinariness, as they are just going about the routine of their day. During the research weekend I spent last summer in Lancaster County at a working dairy farm, I was time and time again stunned by the beauty of the Amish human landscape, not just at the farm where I stayed but in every Amish home I went to. It was difficult at times not to point my camera at the people and instead train the lens on other things, but I kept to the promise I made to myself that I wouldn’t take a picture of an Amish person unless I got permission. 

It is no secret that the Amish as a whole want to be remembered for the kind of people they are and the example they leave behind, and not by their physical appearance. They have made it politely clear that they do not want to be photographed.

Even with this directive widely known, I noticed that plenty of other tourists took pictures of Amish people anyway, as though they didn’t care that the culture they were visiting has respectfully asked not to have their picture taken.

If you travel to Amish country, you may have the some urge as I did to take photos of the darling Amish children walking their pony or playing in their yard, or the couple in the courting buggy out for a Sunday stroll, or an Amish father and his little boy at an auction, standing side-by-side, with matching clothes and hats and suspenders. But I would encourage you not to give in to that impulse just because others are doing so.

I spent a day with an Amish blacksmith in research for THE AMISH BLACKSMITH, and I asked him if I could photograph him while I asked him questions and took notes. He said yes, for which I was very grateful.  But had he said no, I would have honored his request.

This doesn’t mean you won’t have very many photos of your Amish trip. Not by a long shot. I took more than a hundred photos, only a few of them with people in them, and they are among the prettiest travel photos I have. If you truly want to remember what the Amish people looked like, there are wonderful pictorial books that you can purchase at the local museums and bookstores.  

Whether you travel to Amish country as tourist or a researcher, the best way to enjoy your trip is to be among its people, talking with them, eating with them, enjoying their company, and respecting what they hold dear.  This, in turn, will endear you to them. There are plenty of beautiful un-peopled views to remember your trip by.

Susan Meissner is the award-winning author of sixteen novels, including A Fall of Marigolds, named to BookList’s Top Ten Women’s Fiction for 2014. Her latest book is The Amish Blacksmith, co-written with Mindy Starns Clark, is the second installment in The Men of Lancaster County series. A RITA and Christy award finalist, Susan is also a speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. She is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When she's not writing novels, Susan writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church.

Visit Susan at her website: www.susanmeissner.com on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or at www.facebook.com/susan.meissner

Purchase Susan’s books here:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001IO9JC2

 



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