Winter Images by Bill Coleman

Having recently shared some autumn photos by Bill Coleman, today we have a batch of winter images. It’s been about 50 years since Bill began photographing the Amish, which means some of his subjects are all grown up by now.

Their way of life has presumably changed slowly over that time, though even the most traditional Amish have adopted technology in sometimes unexpected ways.


For example, during a trip last year to the area where these photographs were taken, I was surprised to find Nebraska (“white-topper“) Amish wielding cell phones.

That’s not the sort of thing you see immediately in these photos though, where life, at least at first glimpse, appears more or less as it did decades ago.

Winter Plowing

If you’d like to know more of the story behind these photos, you might like this interview with Bill and his son Noah.  An excerpt addressing one of the most common questions:

How do you get these pictures…are they posed?

There are about 120 families in the area, but only twelve or so give Bill permission to photograph. “They know me intimately, and they know I come there often and roam around, just to get casual shots. I never decide in advance what I’m going to photograph—often the weather and the look of the sky is going to determine what I’m going to photograph that day on a particular farm.”

Horse Portrait

He says his pictures are the result of “luck and location,” that all he need do is stand in the right place at the right time. “I’ve always felt that there are two kinds of photographers—those who recognize that which was already established beauty, and those who can create beauty.” And because he doesn’t pose anyone, he doesn’t consider himself the creator of a beautiful image.

Whited Out


Helper Quilting


Three Sheep



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    1. OldKat

      Fantastic pictures

      Hard to pick out a favorite, they are all so good.

      I especially like the two Cheviot sheep standing with the Suffolk between them. Look at the fleece on the two Cheviot! Amazing that a sheep that is primarily known for mutton production can put on that much wool.

      Interesting shot of the man with a team out in the snow covered field. Can’t quite make out what he is doing. On the one hand it looks like he is opening lands with a sulky plow, but I have never seen one built quite like that. It almost appears in the picture as if he has a blade of some sort behind a shop built forecart, but the work he has done appears as if he is using a turning plow.

      It actually kind of surprise me that anyone would be out doing field work in those conditions. In the same picture, the animal that is on the side away from the camera “may” be a mule. At least I see a lot of ear sticking out past the nose of the chunk closest to the camera.

      1. Thanks for the sheep explanation Oldkat, explaining the 2 different varieties.

        And here I thought the guy in the middle had just slept in the day his farmer passed out winter coats.

        1. Christine T

          That made me LOL! The sheep look so fluffy. I just wanna hug them! 🙂

      2. Naomi Wilson

        Plowing in snow

        The picture of the man plowing in the snow made me think of a scene in Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, in which they plow snow into the soil and call it “poor man’s fertilizer.”

    2. Debbie H

      Gorgeous pictures. Love the horse picture. Thanks for sharing.

    3. Bill is a humble man! His pictures are a combination of “luck and location” as he says and I would add “genius.”
      Tom The Backroads Traveller

    4. Nancy

      Simple and stunning — I especially like the first photo — illustrates the vastness of the countryside and the People’s dedication to work, no matter what the weather. Thank you for sharing, Erik. An uplifting way to start my day.

    5. OldKat

      Dream world

      BTW: Doesn’t the bottom picture have a sort of surrealistic quality about it?

      1. Very much, it looks like another planet, almost.

    6. lincolnlady1121

      I love all the pictures especially the first one. Regarding the man and horses plowing in the snow – someone told me that some of the Amish like to plow the first snow fall. Something about the first snow being plowed under the soil makes for a good crop. I don’t know if it is true or not.


    7. Andrea green

      Wow what great pictures, think my favour is the man and his horses in the field, looks like a painting and the picture after that. 🙂

    8. Kevin L.

      He may not create the beauty but he definitely does have the eye to recognise the beauty in it. Fantastic pictures!

    9. Anita Martin

      Oh no, now someone is selling photos for profit!

      1. OldKat


        Not very many people set out to them at a LOSS, do they!

    10. MaryAnn Pepe

      Love This!

      I have a couple of Bill Coleman’s books and at times I can’t stop staring at these wonderful photos and wishing I were there experiencing the beauty!

    11. Kathy Rowe

      Great pictures, Erik. Thanks for sharing. I could look at pictures like this for hours.
      Hope you and your family enjoy the holidays. A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, Erik, and all the “Amish America” folks!

      1. Thank you Kathy, I am glad you enjoyed them. These photos at least help me appreciate my least favorite season.

    12. Don Curtis

      Old Order and New Order Ironies

      I read the above post to my son, Mark. Also, I described the pictures to him. He was struck by the irony that these are the Oldest Order of Amish and he is with a New Order Amish Church. Yet, in his community, cell phones are not allowed. One land line in the home with no extensions but no cell phones. Also, posing for photos is forbidden. The photo of the woman at the quilting frame would really be frowned upon. I guess those are just some of the quirks of the Amish way.

      1. Those same aspects you mention have made me scratch my head Don.

      2. Naomi Wilson

        Question for Don & Mark

        Does Mark have knowledge of other communities that are seeker friendly but do not allow cell phones or internet? My husband and I wish to get away from cell phones and internet as our children grow. We currently are attending but not yet members at a BeachyAM church.

    13. Anita Martin

      wow- seems most of you are the typical tourist who could care less about what the majority of the Amish believe about having photos taken of themselves or anything having to do with their lifestyle. I really can’t believe it…….I am signed off of this site……..shame…..

      1. That’s fine Anita, I don’t think our communication was quite working here. Sorry it didn’t work out.

        1. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

          Not that Erik needs my help…

          From what I’ve read in the responses in recent weeks, even certain among the Amish are interested in “Amish Photography” done by others like Mr. Coleman. Adult images are actually quite rare, children’s “portraiture” is more common, but less not tolerated, perhaps, because they are not baptized members of the Amish Church. Mind you, I’d imagine the parents are right there within less covering distance if an artist like Mr. Coleman might be a little too intrusive.

          Although run by a Polish-American, Amish America is more or less Amish approved because of Erik’s friendships with real life Amish people in a multitude of regions and differing Amish communities who are aware of Amish America, by participants like the parents of Amish converts (Mr. Don Curtis, to name one) and a core of daily readers who do have respect for the Amish and for other readers to share their opinions and thoughts on the Amish.

          What is shameful is for people to come into the discussion and say “you can’t do this” “You can’t do that because I think it is harmful to the Amish”, trust me, if you are being a tourist and you find yourself on a Plain person’s property and you are not wanted there, Amish, Mennonite, whatever, you will be asked to leave, they can and will protect and police themselves against the unwanted tourist. I know, I’ve been told to not come back, and I won’t (to that place anyway).

          Have a safe and otherwise pleasant journey.
          (I thought I’d reply)

          1. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

            What I meant was..

            In paragraph one I should have said “lens covering” not “less covering”, sorry.

      2. OldKat

        Bye Bye

        … and to think; we barely knew you.

    14. Jeff


      I think Bill has a wonderful sense of humor too. There are a few shots on his site that are a hair risque (maybe by Amish standards) but are delightfully funny, human and real. #228 “The Itch” is one of the funniest but also “naturally human”. (Looks really cold!)

    15. Bill Coleman

      . . . has a new fan. I am blown away.

    16. Sandra Kathleen

      Bill Coleman’s photographic art reminds me of Winslow Homer. I find the stark contrast of the red shed next to the line of clothes flapping in a winter wind over snow to be phenomenal. His lines are clear and he illumines the “simple” art of everyday life. Thank you — I have a new favorite artist!

    17. Linda

      Quilt question

      I have a question about the quilt. From what I have seen, usually quilting is started at the edge and worked toward the middle. This quilt is very pretty, but what is this lady doing? It looks to me like the whole quilt is already quilted. Would she be making a repair or working on the binding?

      1. Good question. Maybe inspecting work or what you mention above. Or might be for photo purposes, more natural than smiling at the camera?