S: The Old Order Michael Novara
FC: The Old Order | Michael Novara
1: The Old Order | Photography and Text By Michael Novara | Copyright 2013 Michael Novara | www.michaelnovara.com
2: There is an Old Order Amish community located in Western Pennsylvania. Though the Amish are sometimes described as the Plain People, my visit to the area revealed that to be a gross oversimplification, as their culture is an amalgam of the old and the new, the simple and complex. The Old Order Amish are characterized by worship in private homes versus in churches, their adherence to traditional farming methods, and aversion to the use of electricity and automobiles. The Old Order Amish also do not want to be photographed, as posing for photos, or even permitting them to be taken, is inconsistent with their core belief in humility. There is a certain amount of leeway, however, which made this book possible. Photographing someone's face is not permitted, but some people will permit you to photograph them from behind or the side. As you will see, this rule is sometimes more relaxed when it comes to children. Of course, much can be gleaned from photographs associated with a person or place, even though a human subject is not depicted. As one of my core beliefs is the Golden Rule, I have tried to photograph and portray this community in a respectful way.
4: The view atop an Amish plow. | Ben starts the three-day process of plowing his cornfield. I know the dogs were excited; not so sure about Ben and the horses.
6: Along with farming, making furniture is now a common occupation with the Amish. Lit only by natural light, this shop seemed like a soothing oasis - that is until the shop owner showed me how everything worked by firing up the diesel engine that powered all the equipment. Although the Old Order Amish eschew wired electricity, believing that it improperly connects them to the outside world, this does not stop them from using certain types of engines, or using car batteries charged from these engines.
7: In addition to using kerosene lamps and window light, the shop had specially designed light gathering fixtures strategically placed over certain work areas. They looked a lot like fluorescent light fixtures, and even threw off a cool light, but they were powered only by sunlight. The shop owner explained that missionaries from Africa stopped by once to examine this technology in action.
9: Martin birdhouses are a common sight in Amish country. The two at the far left are more elaborate than most. Also common and unique to this part of the country are the light brown horse drawn buggies. Other common sights include clothing drying on the line and doors painted blue. It has been rumored by outsiders that a blue door signifies that a daughter of marriageable age lives within, but this type of advertising seems quite dubious given what we know about the Amish, and this claim has been generally debunked as a myth. Other sources state that the use of blue doors by the Pennsylvania Amish is based on superstition, and that a blue door is said to be an effective talisman, preventing evil from crossing the threshold. Most simply attribute the blue doors to tradition.
10: These Amish women bake and sell homemade donuts the second Saturday of the month during the spring, summer and fall. Since the weather was cold and dreary this day, sales were off. But they told me that they can sell about 3000 donuts in October if the weather is nice. I bought a dozen and will be back for more....
12: A traditional Amish grade school classroom. The teacher allowed me to take this photograph while the children were outside playing. She asked me not to photograph the students and I did not. On the other hand, I was given permission to photograph these boys by their mother. As she explained, being photographed is not so much an issue with "the little ones."
14: Gathering Hay
15: Driving Lessons
16: The harness shop, like the Old Order Amish in general, is a study in contrasts. Lit only by kerosene lamps and window light, it is both dark and light, drab and colorful, old and modern. It also is a very busy place, frequented by the Amish and "English" alike. In the interior shot immediately to the right, the ghost-like image is the semitransparent form of one of the workers who wandered into the frame during a long exposure. He is wearing a short sleeve blue shirt. His coat and hat are hanging on the right.
18: At the Annual Auction
27: The Old Order Amish do not have telephones in their homes, but there are a few public phones in the area that they use for emergencies.