Do The Amish Object To Being In Photographs

Do The Amish Object To Being In Photographs

By Josh Brown

May 9, 2022

Amish Photographs, Amish Products, Amish religion, Amish viewpoint, Amish Way of Life

Have you ever wondered if the Amish object to having their pictures taken? You see many pictures of Amish people and the Amish lifestyle everywhere you turn; you might think the Amish people don't care to be photographed. But! is this true? Many people have heard that Amish people have a religious Ordnung against being in pictures or videos. Amish-related TV shows, documentaries, and books about Amish culture show us so many great images of the Amish people that it's hard to think there would be any problem with the Amish and their digital presence. If Amish people being photographed brings up questions, especially after so many different Amish pictures can be found in a quick internet search, here are some viewpoints Amish people have on photography and their objections to having their "graven image taken" and some information to keep your flashbulbs popping.

Amish Of Ethridge Tn Girls Walking Away

Amish Girls Walking Away

 The Amish History About Being In Photographs

So why would some Amish people not want their photos taken? This topic of Amish people that Don't like to be in pictures came about with a separation in the Amish faith years ago. The idea that a photo would steal one's soul or "graven image" can be traced back to the Amish beliefs on vanity taken from Exodus 20:4. But, if you know your Amish history, the Amish faith was started with the Anabaptist movement that originated in Switzerland in the late 1700s. The Amish people faced religious persecution against the Anabaptist movement at that time. The separation from Switzerland also formed a difference in the interpretation of holy scripture within the Amish belief system. This change in residence of Amish Anabaptist people, escaping religious persecution to other parts of the world, started the beginning of the different Amish groups as we know them today. Now the different groups of Amish people diversified in their religious viewpoints, culture, languages, and outward appearances. We have different groups or Orders of Amish people that put more or less importance on different parts of religious beliefs in scripture.

This history of the Amish religion is okay. There were no cameras or video equipment in the late 1700s!!! Correct, and in the Amish religion, this idea of the Amish being in pictures was fine in Amish culture at its start unless it was in pieces of artwork. But, much like other religions, the Amish religion has adapted over time to fit some of its religious viewpoints into today's modern culture. Now that we know more about the history of separation in the Amish faith and how that separation started different Amish Orders as we know them, all having different but similar beliefs. Let's look at Amish viewpoints and beliefs within different Amish Orders.  

Mckenzie Tennessee Amish Vegetable Stand.

McKenzie Tennessee Amish Vegetable stand.

Not All Amish Orders Believe Quiet The Same 

The Swartzentruber Amish are considered part of the Old Order Amish faith and have the least modern ways of doing things. In the Swartzentruber Amish beliefs, you will find that they don't believe in using or owning cars, tractors, or any modern conveniences such as electricity or phones, like landlines or cell phones. They also do NOT like being in pictures or videos of any kind. Also, the entire way the Swartzentruber Amish groups conduct their daily walk of life is very plain. For example, they only wear dark blue and black clothing and try to only speak to their younger children in the Amish Pennsylvania Dutch language. Also, the Swartzentruber Amish don't have pictures or mirrors in their homes or much of anything that is "flashy" to speak of in their lifestyle.

Although the Swartzentruber Amish community is considered old-school in its ideas of the Amish lifestyle, the New Order Amish communities found scattered throughout the United States are also very simple in their beliefs but, compared to the Swartzentruber believe in doing things a little more modern and have different viewpoints on scriptures in the Amish religion. For the New Order Amish, the view of pictures is more relaxed than in the Old Order Amish communities. Still, the New Order Amish do not allow pictures because of their beliefs. Most Amish people, New or Old Orders, don't want to be in any pictures. But, when it comes to differences in interpretation of Bible verses within the Amish faith, there is quite a difference. A good comparison for English people on the different Amish Orders and Amish beliefs could be the difference between the Baptist Faith, Church of Christ, or Methodist denominations. The beliefs and interpretation of scripture in these English denominations are similar but different, just like in the Amish Orders.

Points To Remember About Different Amish Orders In Pictures

  • In Different Amish Orders, Religious Beliefs Are Close To The Same, But Not Exactly The Same
  • Different Amish Orders, Due To Size, Location, And Interpretation Of Religious  Scripture, Put Different Levels Of Importance On Things Such As Photographs and Videos
  • Amish People Are No Different Than Anyone In The English Community, and Have Personal Opinions On What They Feel Is Correct In Their Beliefs On Being In Photos Or Videos
Amish Kids Going To School.

Amish School

Do The Amish Pose For Pictures

So now we know the general beliefs of the Amish people and how some feel about being in photos and videos. Most people think that Amish people are totally against being captured on film, this is a true statement, but that statement is NOT correct. A great way to sum up the ideas of Amish people comes from their faith system; they believe that a camera captures their graven image and goes against their beliefs on vanity. However, the Amish people also understand that English people will photograph them sometimes, especially tourists to the Amish communities. They would prefer you not take their picture, but the Amish people understand that everyone has a cell phone with a camera these days. 

The main problem that the Amish people have with pictures or videos is someone old enough to be baptized in the Amish faith posing for a picture!!! A great example can be found in the images used by the Amish Of Ethridge website. If you look closely at the photos used of Amish People in the blog posts or webpages, they are done, so the faces of the Amish are not shown. Instead, action is what is being photographed and ensures no Amish person can be considered as posing for us!!! A very religious prominent Amish fellow in the local Amish community was asked his opinion on photography and how the Amish feel about being in pictures. His answer was surprising. Here is what he said.

"We understand that everyone has a camera on their phones now a day. We wish no pictures would be taken, but we understand it can't be avoided. Please try not to take pictures of our children; we try to keep them from that type of technology or any Amish person that turns their head quickly away because they are really against the idea. But!!! If you're going to take our pictures, please try to get us with our backs turned or working." (*edited for clarity and conciseness)

So on your next trip to an Amish community, remember these points highlighted below, especially when taking pictures.

Rules To Remember On Taking Pictures In The Amish Community

  1. Remember, the Amish people do NOT like to be in pictures, but asking first if you can take pictures of Amish homes, horses, and buggies might be okay. So, ASK Permission first.
  2. Be respectful. Don't run up to an Amish person and take a picture of them with your cell phone.
  3. Suppose you notice an Amish person turning away from your camera because you are taking a picture. Remember, the Amish do not like being in your picture and would instead have you stop with the camera work.  
  4. The best action if you want a picture of an Amish person is to capture all images of Amish people from behind or while working so as not to show any posing for the camera or possibly not to take a picture at all. 

Amish People In Videos And Movies

Are the Amish okay with all the Amish TV shows and movies that fill our screens? The Amish community does not support the idea of video because it goes against their 2nd commandment ideas on vanity. So what is the deal with the Amish people we have seen on film!!! One fantastic point is the subject matter concerning the particular video in question. It goes without saying that if the topic of the show is about someone "leaving" the Amish community for an English lifestyle, that person most likely has no objections to being in any film.

But what about people who live and hold the Amish way of life? Just like in photos, always try to capture video clips of Amish people from behind. In the case of video, this is only sometimes possible. Another option may be to edit the video, so it does not infringe on any Amish person's religious beliefs. Let's step back for a second and look at different ways a person practicing the Amish faith might be able to be in a video.

Silhouette Effect

Think about watching a news channel or clip showing a person being interviewed sitting in the dark or shadows while talking. In that case, their face might be blurred, and their voice distorted. Often this type of filming is an option to interview an Amish person on any subject. Click on this link to learn more about Silhouettes.

Ground Level Shot In Filming

Then a final way to capture an Amish person on film is to aim the camera or microphone at the ground close to the Amish person speaking, but leave that person out of the frame except for their feet!! This angle style is often seen in significant movies to show the character without revealing that character's identity. 

Amish Buggy From Back

Amish Buggy From Behind

Now that you have more information on Amish people being in photos and videos. Please make sure to leave us a comment below; we love to hear from our readers. If you like this blog post, feel free to look around at all the different pages at the Amish Of Ethridge. Also, sign up for our newsletter if you want to stay up to speed on the new blog posts. Also, look for The Amish Of Ethridge on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Thank you all again for reading, have a great day and an even better tomorrow.


Has The Amish Of Ethridge Crew Ever Had Amish People Knowingly Stand In Front Of Our Cameras?

Yes, the Amish people have been within feet of our cameras a few times.

What rules apply to filming and photos in this type of Amish environment?

Generally, you can take pictures or videos of anyone in public locations such as parks, sporting events, or public areas because they have elected to put themselves there.

What do the Amish consider as vanity?

The Amish consider clothing with bright colors, pictures, film, art (paintings), mirrors, and fake teeth as showing vanity or individualism. This difference in people goes against their humble lifestyle and their religious beliefs.

Do Amish Peoples personal viewpoints differ from their religious teachings on photos?

Yes, many times, but NOT always; it depends mainly on the Amish person. Remember that Amish people don't like being in pictures, but it's not really against their religion. Posing in a picture or video is against their beliefs on vanity found in their religion.

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