Pennsylvania – Photo Tip
Natural light can be a true blessing
In the Bible, one of the Ten Commandments states: “You shall not make unto yourself any graven image.” The Amish believe that photographs where they are posing or can be recognized violates this command.
They want to be remembered for their humility in the lives they lived, not by how they looked. Because so much of their culture is based on traditions that have spanned the years, most of them hold to the rules, even if it is not a personally-held conviction.
The fact that I have a relationship with the people in my pictures is really the only reason I was able to get these shots. They really did step outside their comfort zone to give me this opportunity.
I often use off-camera lighting in my work, but in order to be as discrete and unobtrusive as possible, I chose to consistently stick with natural light. Since the Amish do not use electricity, there are often many indoor spots with lots of available natural light. Specifically, in the prayer image, people think it holds a painterly quality: this is because there was actually a wonderful skylight (found in many Amish homes) that perfectly bathed the subjects in a soft natural light.
Since it was dinner time and the sun was going down, there was no need to worry about a harsh direct light coming in. With each image I knew the look I wanted and I would seek out the best naturally lit areas.