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Photographer's Dilemma - PA Relief Sale

I recently attended the Pennsylvania Relief Sale at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.  It's one of a few Relief Sales held across the United States to benefit the work of Mennonite Central Committee which provides assistance in many areas of the world.  The sale draws people from many walks of life:  Amish, Old Order Mennonites - in fact, a broad spectrum of Mennonites from very conservative to liberal, and those who make no claim to have ties with Anabaptists beliefs and traditions.  They are drawn by homemade items such as quilts, woven rugs, wooden toys, and small wood furniture pieces.  The food is no hindrance to attendance with choices such as strawberry pie, homemade donuts and ice cream, BBQ, and a country breakfast.

  It probably will come as no surprise that I like to attend the sale with my camera in hand.  There is so much color and diversity and activity.  There are also the Amish who believe they should not have their picture taken.  It is a challenge for a photographer to capture the flavor of the gathering while trying to respect others.

I was watching a volleyball tournament being played on the dirt floor of the equine building.  This was a new activity at the Relief Sale.  The kids were fun to watch and as I was taking a few pictures, I was approached by a gentleman who very politely but firmly asked me to stop.  He had been getting complaints about my picture taking.  I learned later that I had been taking pictures of an Amish volleyball tournament of about 30 teams.  Did I know they were Amish?  I knew some of them were Amish.  Others were dressed in T-shirts and jeans.  There were youth observing the game who wore head coverings and cape dresses and were using smart phones.  Was I being rude?  No.  I was standing in a corner.  Did they have the right to ask me to stop taking pictures?  Yes.  I just wish it would have been more obvious that this was an Amish only competition.  (I did request that in the future they post a sign indicating that photographs are not allowed.)

I've thought a lot about that incident since then.  It bothered me that I offended them.  It bothered me that they thought I was being disrespectful.  It made me wonder how many other people I had already offended that day.  I enjoy taking pictures of the Amish culture but I always try to respect their desire for no pictures.  I always try to photograph with no identifiable faces or, at the most, a profile (which I understand is permitted).  When I attend the Relief Sale in the future, will I take my camera?  I doubt it.  I don't want my photography to be offensive to anyone.

So, with that explanation, here are some pictures I took.  I hope they convey my respect for all those attending.