Two (Creepy?) Amish Drone Videos

I have mixed feelings about drones. I’m generally not a fan of these flying cameras, but admit that they can capture some amazing footage.

One example would be this two-minute video flying over Amish farms in Lancaster County.

Someone recently did a drone video in Amish Ohio and shared it to YouTube. The machine does capture some beautiful aerial images.

About 100 seconds in, you’ll see an Amishman who tries to “catch” the drone. He is clearly enjoying the experience.

A second Amishman later in the clip also seems to be smiling.

It’s this second video that I’m less sure about. This drone flies over a group of people (looks like a mixed Amish and English group), including some Amish children, ice fishing in New York.

I find something creepy about taking footage with a flying device which enters others’ space while personally being far away (though it’s possible this might be someone from the group operating the drone).

Image by Dan Oshier

That and something about the way drones move and sound gives me a touch of the heebie-jeebies (something similar to how I feel around those massive wind farm turbines).

The children in this video seem puzzled, to use the first word that comes to mind.  What do you think?

Get the Amish in your inbox

Join 15,000 email subscribers. No spam. 100% free

    Similar Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    1. Walter Boomsma

      Privacy, respect...

      As a bit of a photographer myself (who isn’t using drones), I get very concerned about some of these new technologies. I often say “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” There are a number of legal and ethical precedents around photography that seem to be overlooked when flying a drone with a mounted camera. There are similar issues around the small, readily concealable cameras that may be used to take photos without someone’s knowledge. A key legal issue is one’s “right to an expectation of privacy.”

      You shouldn’t have to worry about someone coming on your property and taking photos of you… what about “your” air space? Until the courts set some precedents we have to depend on good judgment which will not always prevail, unfortunately.

      The added complication is that many seem to have the sense that the Amish are tourist attractions. Add the fact that in the second video children are being photographed and I concur it’s a bit “creepy” and probably inappropriate–even though it appears the kids are out in public.

      1. Personal (air) space

        Regarding “air space” I’m kind of surprised that hasn’t been a bigger issue as drones have proliferated. I do wonder if the drone pilot wasn’t a part of the ice fishing group though; most of the adults appear to be non-Amish to me (though, it is a bit hard to make out). I guess the children had a story to tell when they got home.

        The guys in the first video seem to be quite aware and this is probably a friend or acquaintance (he mentions he has to help paint the barn at the end). If I’m not mistaken it appears to be the first Amishman along on the crane lift towards the end.

        I was nearly hit by a drone at a large indoor conference once that someone was flying around (well, it wasn’t as dramatic as it sounds, but it flew too close for comfort) so maybe that colors my opinion of them as well.

        1. Stephanie

          Drones Invasion of Privacy

          Erik, Thank you for sharing this. Unless the person operating the drone knew these people and had asked and informed them they will be taking photo’s from the drone then it would be an invasion of privacy. Furthermore without the express written permission from the Amish before movies and or photographs are taken of the Amish and then used to display over the internet or movies, etc. that also would be an invasion of privacy including the fact they should receive payment and or royalties (whichever applies) for every time they are publicly put on display in any fashion. Even for just personal, without permission it would be am invasion of privacy. Also perhaps I am mistaken but I thought that in general the Amish and Menonites do not publicly display themselves through movies and photographs.

          1. Generally Amish don’t seek the camera but the comfort with it depends often on the person, and some churches/communities have greater tendencies towards being comfortable with it and some less so. Sometimes it’s not the ones you’d expect.

            I’ve seen examples of quite plain Amish, even Swartzentruber Amish, permitting photography. On the other end, the New Order Amish are pretty free about it. You can see a photo of a New Order friend of mine at this post:

            I think in general Amish have probably become more comfortable with the camera over the past decade…in part because cameras are simply everywhere now embedded in smartphones (as well as public monitoring cameras and so on). An increase in business activity has also brought more Amish into English circles, which contributes to this.

            That’s not to say Amish are suddenly welcoming the camera, but that has been my observation. Fwiw, I wrote this article about ten years ago on the topic:

            1. Walter Boomsma

              Great article...

              Yes… I remember that article well! My limited experience bears it out… different things are acceptable to different folks and in different districts–at least until recently. (I should say that I’ve always tried to respectful and careful when taking photographs.) I was in the Lancaster area… and noticed an Amish School off in the distance–at least a half-mile away. I stopped and started taking a few pictures… given the distance no one was recognizable–and I was not using a telephoto lens. I saw it as a landscape shot; not one of people. Apparently one of the children noticed me because suddenly many of the students started screaming at me, “NO PICTURES!” I was surprised, immediately stopped and left… later wondering if I should have approached the school and apologized. It simply didn’t occur to me that photos from that distance would be unacceptable. This did happen, however, on a major highway often traveled by tourists.

              1. I’m surprised they noticed you at such a distance, but maybe there was a flash of a lens and if you were stopped out in the open for some time it might have drawn attention. Some of the Lancaster Amish schools do have “no photos” signs (particularly nearer the center of the community), I think it’s safe to assume because they get a lot of people coming by.

                I think you made the right choice in not going to the school to apologize. They are probably shouting at someone every other day if it’s a school off 340 or thereabouts. In other words I doubt they took it personally. I am generally wary of even approaching Amish schools in Lancaster County (sometimes I walk Amish friends’ children to their school in the morning, but always pull up short of going much onto the property) as an unknown English person, particularly after Nickel Mines, even though it’s been 13+ years. I just assume that that incident lives on in memory there. I’m sure I could go up to the school accompanied by the children (I’ve actually visited it before), but generally just leave it.


      Drones above the Amish

      Seeing the second film posted here makes me sad. It is certainly an invasion of privacy. All the more because of the Amish and their feelings about having their image captured. Just like we wouldn’t just walk onto their property, I find it an invasion as they fly over their property and then come down very low which is not allowed anywhere, Amish or not. This invasion is just sad to see.

    3. Did anyone get permission to photo these people? If not, then it was an invasion of privacy.

    4. Lydia Good

      Nope, not ethical

      I wouldn’t like the idea of a drone swooping down out of the sky and taking pictures of me. But I know there are ethical photographers out there. I was at an photography show some years back and was admiring a picture of a wheat field. In the picture, it was a beautiful sunny day with a little bit of a breeze. The wheat was all gently flowing in one direction. I struck up a conversation with the photographer. Coincidentally, he was from my neck of the woods. He told me where he had taken the picture, which was only a few miles from our house. It’s also along a fairly busy highway. He said he had been sitting there, across the road from the wheat field, for quite a while waiting until no cars would be in his perfect picture. There was a little bit of a knob in the road where he was sitting. Finally, no cars. He was just ready to snap his picture when a horse and buggy came over the knob. A young Amish girl was in the buggy, holding a cell phone up to her ear. That would have been his perfect picture. He didn’t take the picture of her. Although he would have probably been able to sell it for a bit of money. This was when cell phones were just being used by the general public and that didn’t include the Amish in those days. So I also think this was an invasion of their privacy. Especially the ice fishermen.

    5. Don Dersnah


      Creepy and inappropriate. I’d be rather upset if someone thought it was okay to take videos of my grandchildren who were just minding their own business.

    6. Randy

      It Depends...

      As so often is the case, I think drone overflights and camera usage falls into the “it depends…” category. When done with permission and with appropriate card for safety, then it seems to me no different than using a camera from any other vantage point. Otherwise, I think it is creepy, obnoxious and unacceptably intrusive. I sure hope we will never reach a time when we cannot claim to have a protectable expectation of privacy from unwanted scrutiny on privately owned land that is not otherwise visible to the public.

      Eric, thanks for this interesting post.

    7. Marty

      Here is what he said

      While filming a documentary in Chautauqua county, I stopped to take some aerial shots of the ice fishermen on Lake Chautauqua. There, I noticed some Amish children were among the group. I saw that hey were locked in on my drone once it was within eye sight. I focused on them for a few moments before getting back to my work (it was freezing cold out!).
      I went up to the kids after I landed and showed them the drone. They had never seen one before. Nice people & man did they catch a lot of fish!
      #chautauqua #newyork #videoproduction

    8. Dale Ann Harsh

      Drone footage

      The same vehicle shows up different locations in the first video. I infer from that ‘technology’ was on the property by permission. In the second video there’s no evidence of that. Someone with a drone saw something they wanted a closer look at…and that was it, they took the opportunity. You have to take the photographer’s word for the fact that he approached the subjects afterward and, presumably, got permission to use the footage and post it.
      The second one is still a bit creepy in my opinion but then I’ve been ‘scoped’ out via drone. If the next door neighbors wanted a look in the backyard it would have been much better for them to come and ask. Instead they made routine flights which included low level passes over my pond. Ultimate pay back occurred when they tried their hand at looking around down the street and the drone was nabbed by the household dog. By the time they plucked up enough courage to go down and ask for the drone back there wasn’t enough of it to sweep up and put in a shoebox….end of problem.