About 2 or 3 years ago, I spent one of many days out photographing in the Amish area, located about 1 hour SW of where I lived in NE Ohio. While driving one of the many country roads, I happened on a particular house, standing out on a bright sunny day in May. The spring flowers graced the property. The family’s laundry, drying in the sun only enhanced the photo op.
The man of the house was standing at the end of the entrance to his barn so I stopped and asked if I could make an image of his house. I promised him I would send a print of it to him in return. Very nicely, he said sure I could then let me know that other photographers have said exactly the same, but never sent a print. I remembered that.
After the photographed we chatted for about an hour. I realized that this fellow was more than accommodating than other Amish I have engaged over the years. He let me know he was not one of the strictest families located here I Holmes County and if I wanted to shoot some more it would be ok. We hit it off pretty well. He told me about his dairy farm, his family, his 3 back operations (Noah is only in his mid 40’s!) and more. We walked across the road to the families dining hall where his wife Mary cooks for the family on Sunday’s and caters traditional Amish meals to some tour groups that come through from time to time. We became good friends.
Doing photography workshops, one of which is in the fall in NE Ohio, my mind began to start to put two and two together to think about possibly trying to get my new Amish friend to let my group come in and shoot for a bit on the property, then enjoy a traditional Amish meal across the street in the dinging hall.
My workshops traditionally run Thursday night through noon on Sunday. The workshop this year started early on Thursday when about 16 of the 27 folks signed up for the entire weekend, came out for a special day in the Amish country. Bob Kulon (www.bobkulonphoto.com ), a great local photographer (and Photoshop guru) was my partner in the workshop. Because of the larger than normal group (I like to keep no more than an 8:1 ratio of attendees to instructors) I brought in Josh Anderson (www.joshuaandersonphotography) to help out as well.
We broke the group of 16 up into 2 groups of 8. Each spent about 2 hours on the property and the other group shot in and around the picturesque Amish country side. Each group took turns in the morning and afternoon. We all met back there together about 4PM.
Noah was so helpful in arranging shots of himself and his 2 daughters coming up the road in their buggy as well as even setting up the shot of the cows coming in for the late afternoon milking. I am sure that the folks who attended this day in the Amish got some great photographs, but some very unique shots that few photographers ever had the chance to capture.
We had a great family style meal of chicken, Swiss steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, homemade noodles and more. We even had a choice of 5 home made pies for dessert. What more could you ask for. The meal ended with songs sung for us by the entire family and a nice sunset. I couldn’t help but thinking about how not very many folks get to see this way of life up front and personal, let alone capture some of it through photography.
Driving home that night I remarked to Bob that on a scale of 1 to 10, this day was an eleven…… Just another day in paradise.
Since my relocation to Oregon, I will be concentrating most of my efforts on the west coast. Bob Kulon will be taking over the workshops in Ohio and surroundings. I will be part of many of these workshops if not all of them.
We are repeating this workshop again next year and perhaps expanding it a bit. Please check my site www.jackgrahamphoto.com from time to time for details. Since, for obvious reasons we must limit the number of folks at Noah’s farm, please let Bob or me know ASAP if you are interested.