Photographers (and other artists) spend a lot of time searching for "that perfect subject." I think that's why there are so many great shots of children... and pets. It's almost impossible to go wrong... so I think at least part of the credit has to go to the subject or scene. This is the case with my entry in the 2011 Wilmington Art Association's Spring Show and Sale:
"AMISH FARMGIRL" - Lancaster, PA (2010)
This shot was taken during a trip to Lancaster, PA last summer -- an area where beautiful scenes abound -- in every direction. But, when this particular shot was taken, I was actually photographing the empty field on the right. Then, I started to hear a dog barking and a faint mechanical sound in the distance... and a few seconds later a young Amish girl appeared from behind the trees -- in traditional dress -- driving a team of horses. I quickly switched to my telephoto lens and only had time to fire off a few frames before the machinery made the turn and disappeared behind the trees again. About six months later -- this scene would win the "Southeastern Camera Award" at the W.A.A. Show.
The Amish people don't love having their picture taken, but I couldn't resist during that trip... and at a farmer's market in downtown Lancaster I was able to capture more picturesque images -- like this pretty young Amish woman selling cold drinks. In just the right light -- she looked a lot like Kelly McGillis in the film "Witness."
And there was an old man selling pickles -- "put up" by his wife who also worked at their booth. His persona was so perfect -- with the straw hat, long grey beard and suspenders -- I wondered if he wasn't "dressing up" just a bit -- to increase sales.
I wouldn't have dared think such a thing if it wasn't for the next image. In a small town outside Lancaster we saw many black horse-drawn wagons navigating the tourist traffic. As we passed the local bank, my wife spotted one wagon as it turned into the parking lot... and we followed. There was the horse -- waiting patiently as the driver did his banking -- at a drive-through ATM:
In the Amish country -- just like everywhere else -- past and present are merging much too quickly. I guess I feel it's a photographer's job to capture some of these scenes -- just like Matthew Brady did during the Civil War when photography itself was brand new. And, if we manage to preserve a few images that win awards... or that someone calls "art" -- then, that's fine, too.