On the Amish and Photography

camera-lens

  1. Is it okay to take photos of Amish people?
  2. Do Amish pose for photos?
  3. Do Amish carry photo IDs?
  4. Do Amish own cameras?
  5. Where can I find photos of the Amish?

Back to FAQ main page

Is it okay to take photos of Amish people? Amish generally avoid personal photography, as it is felt to encourage pride. For this reason most Amish will not pose for photos. Some Amish do not mind unposed photos, however.

Some Amish state that they do not mind if photos are taken without their consent, but if asked they are obligated to refuse. Though some prefer not to have their photos taken at all, taking photos discreetly is better than conspicuously intruding with a camera.

Amish do not generally display personal photos in their homes. One Amishman felt this “helps elevate the individual above the group”, as described in “Amish Workarounds” by Lindsay Ems. However, some parents have been known to keep photos of their children. As with other issues Amish hold different views on photography.

Do Amish pose for photos? As a rule, the majority of Amish do not. Experience has shown that some Amish have more permissive attitudes about this and will in fact pose for photos.

As with most things Amish, it is hard to say definitively that Amish “never” do this or that. Photos of Amish people posing for the camera can be found in various places online, including here and here.

Do Amish carry photo IDs? Yes, quite a few do, though others have refused photos even for identification purposes. The US government has made allowances for this by permitting non-photo forms of identification for travel across the border to Canada or Mexico. Canadian-citizen Amish and Old Order Mennonites are permitted to enter the US on a similar basis.

Do Amish own cameras? Generally not, though Amish of groups which are more liberal regarding photos may do so, such as those of New Order Amish communities.

However, by default Amish who own a smartphone also own its built-in camera. Amish adolescence researcher Richard Stevick, author of Growing Up Amish: The Rumspringa Years, describes usage of cameras as “routine for growing numbers of Amish youth with cell phones” (p. 124).

Where can I find photos of the Amish? Many sites on the internet feature Amish photos. Bill Coleman (1925-2014) was probably the best-known photographer of the Amish, and spent decades capturing images of a central Pennsylvania community. One of the best Amish photo compilations is America’s Amish Country II by Doyle Yoder and Leslie A. Kelly.

More questions on the Amish? Get answers to 300+ questions in 41 categories at the FAQ main page.

References:

  • Eitzen, Dirk. “Reel Amish: The Amish in Documentaries”. Weaver-Zercher, David, and Diane Zimmerman Umble, eds. The Amish and the Media.Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2008.
  • Stevick, Richard A. Growing Up Amish: The Rumspringa Years. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.
  • Yoder, Doyle and Leslie A. Kelly. America’s Amish Country II. Berlin, OH: America’s Amish Country Publications, 2000.
  • Ems, Lindsay. “Amish Workarounds: Toward a Dynamic, Contextualized View of Technology Use.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 2.1 (April 2014): 42-58. Web. <http://hdl.handle.net/1811/59690>.
  • “Travel documentation for members of the Amish or Mennonite communities”. US Customs and Border Protection. US Government, 4 Jan. 2014. Web. Accessed 25 Mar. 2015. <https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1185/~/travel-documentation-for-members-of-the-amish-or-mennonite-communities>

To Cite this Page: Wesner, Erik J. “Photos.” Amish America. Erik Wesner, 10 Apr. 2015. Web. [Date Accessed]. <http://amishamerica.com/photos/>.

Image credits: old camera- mikeblackburn/flickr