Amish Hunting

I learned everything I know about the Amish from the 1985 Harrison Ford movie, Witness (which is to say that I'm pretty clueless about the whole culture.) So when my husband and I drove through Lancaster, Pennsylvania last fall, I was hell bent on seeing some Amish people. It was a Sunday afternoon and I didn't even know if Amish people got out on Sundays.

They do.

We wandered around and actually saw a couple of carriages whiz by, but I didn't get a good look. And being gainfully employed as an editorial/travel photographer, I was itching to snap a few photos. I had my D700 out and ready to go, but when we finally came upon a family of four in an open carriage, I couldn't pull the trigger. Yes, I make my living taking photos. Yes, it would be "legal." But it just seemed so voyeuristic, so disrespectful, so paparazzi to stop down the road and stick my big honking 70-200 lens in their faces as they drove by. And it wasn't a situation where I could politely ask if it'd be okay for me to photograph their family (though from what I hear, even if I could, the answer would be no.) I decided to err on the side of being a decent human and told my husband he could go ahead and drive on to whichever covered bridges he wanted to see. I just couldn't figure out how to align my camera and my conscience in this setting.

So we found a bridge. Being the incredible guy he is, my husband stopped, let me out of the car, and waited while I photographed the bridge. And that's when the good karma caught up with me. I was standing on the bridge contemplating my best angle when two carriages surprised the crap out of me and barreled through (I wasn't altogether prepared for them, but was able to catch a couple of shots on the fly.) It was loud.

I stood there thinking, "Maybe if I hang here a little longer, more will come." 

Sure enough, two more sailed through in the next few minutes. And here's the best part: the way it happened, they were bombing my photo of the bridgeso it wasn't intrusive. The last guy even gave me a smile and a little wave, as if to say, "Sorry we got in your shot!" 

I snapped a couple more shots of the bridge and we headed toward New Jersey. It's situations like these that make me wonder why I don't let things breathe more often. You know, Hakuna Matata. Don't push the river. Sometimes I think that opportunities are like cats: if you hover over them or try and get them to come to you, they run. But if you go about your business and put your focus elsewhere, more often than not they end up climbing in your lap.

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