CAPTION: Photo by Rachel Diver Williams near rural Pardeeville, Wisconsin, the article below is set in a more conservative Amish settlement about 100 miles to the west. Here a young Amish man moves a plow through a field.
I had posted about this on Weekend Blogroll a week or so ago, but, wow, what I am about to share is 10 X better. Photographer David Nevala spent the day on an Amish farm in western Wisconsin to do some documentary work for an organic farm cooperative. Filming the Amish, who generally don't want to be filmed, is an age-old challenge in American photojournalism. What I love about what he came up with is that the family patriarch permitted the photographer access and that, at the end of the day, they went over the contact sheets together to agree what photos could be released. So what you are about to look at is all approved and respectful. I can just imagine the burly, bearded Amish farmer and the slick city photographer sitting down at a table and going over photos one by one. I've been in similar circumstances myself and it's really tricky. The photographer has a job to do as someone who is trying to convey a story, but the Amish person has a job to do as the guardian and gatekeeper of cultural purity. It's a delicate balance, but it can work (as it does here) if the photographer approaches it respectfully. Click here to see some amazingly artistic shots on a conservative Old Order Amish farmstead.
This photo is one we shot in the ultraconservative settlement of Ethridge, Tennessee. Here the Amish just weren't comfortable with any type of photography, so we respected that just took landscape shots like this one.