Why Is It Disrespectful To Take a Picture of the Amish?


As most people know, the Amish community avoids electricity and anything to do with the modern world as much as possible. However, because they occasionally interact with non-Amish, outsiders need to respect their values when interacting with them. One of their convictions is a refusal to be photographed.

It’s disrespectful to take a picture of an Amish person because the community members believe that photographs promote individualism. They think an image of a person encourages vanity and takes people away from the Amish beliefs of being humble and conforming to the community.

The article below is about Amish convictions about photographs. The article will also go in-depth into what the Amish people think about taking photographs, what happens to someone who takes a photo of an Amish person, and other things the Amish community considers disrespectful.

Amish hat

What Do Amish People Think of Picture-Taking?

The Amish generally dislike having their photograph taken and often display signs in their communities asking that outsiders not take pictures when visiting. However, in some progressive communities, Amish people distinguish between taking posed and unposed photographs.

However, that does not explain how documentaries about the Amish exist if they don’t like people taking their photographs. As mentioned above, the explanation is that some communities distinguish between posing for photographs and candid photography. [1]

Essentially, candid photography allows for plausible deniability. [2] This means that filmmakers can shoot videos of Amish people outside their houses going about their daily business, such as going to the market or working in the fields. However, photographers should not be obvious about what they are doing, or community members may ask them to leave.

The exception to the rule is when people take pictures of Amish children. Because children have not received baptism yet, the community considers it acceptable to take photos of them. Additionally, teens and young adults on Rumspringa have a lot of freedom to do things otherwise prohibited, which includes taking photographs. [3]

One challenge associated with Amish beliefs on photography is taking photos for identity proof. Even the Amish, who permit candid pictures and have an outlook of plausible deniability, oppose being photographed with their face pointing directly towards the camera.

This obstacle makes getting ID proof challenging, which can be an issue if they plan to cross the border (such as between the US and Mexico or the US and Canada).

However, not all Amish people allow for such loopholes. Many are unwilling to ever be photographed. In fact, they consider it an act of humility and proof of their devotion to God. This is because the Amish believe that photography is a violation of the Second Commandment. [4]

However, some Christians interpret it to mean that they should not create any images of themselves, including photographs, videos, and paintings – and this includes the Amish.

As it stands, the Amish dislike any physical representation of themselves, though they generally do not have an opinion of outsiders engaging in photography that does not involve them.

Amish house
Will Amish people ask people to leave their community? See below

What Happens if You Take a Picture of an Amish Person?

Taking a picture of an Amish person is considered disrespectful. The person photographed may walk away or get visibly irritated, but that will be the extent of the reaction. The Amish are non-violent and don’t enact civil cases, so a lawsuit against the offender is unlikely.

The Amish are a non-violent community that avoids and hates violence. [5] While there are occasional crimes in Amish country, they are few and far between. This fact means that people taking photographs of Amish people do not need to worry about violent reprisal.

Some point out that taking photographs of Amish people without their consent could lead to the individual filing a civil case against the photographer. However, as part of their religious beliefs, the Amish do not sue people or file civil lawsuits. [6]

Ultimately, the person in question will likely walk away, and nothing more will happen. However, the refusal of some tourists to respect the wishes of the Amish has led to some communities becoming more insular and closing themselves off from outsiders altogether.

While they may leave the community to carry out business, they will not let anyone enter the village, ensuring that outsiders don’t photograph their homes.

Amish buggie

What Is Disrespectful to Amish?

The Amish find it disrespectful when outsiders stare at them. Visitors should also avoid taking photographs of Amish people. If a non-Amish is in an Amish country, they must not enter homes uninvited, nor should they approach people unless the latter seems willing to talk.

In general, the etiquette when talking to Amish people is not too different from that of non-Amish people. For example, one should not be rude or talk disrespectfully about their beliefs. If one drives down a road in Amish country at night, their headlights should not be too bright, as that could blind the horses and driver of a buggy. [7] Similarly, they must not honk, as that can spook the horses.

Some Amish women prefer not to interact with outsiders, especially outsider men. If an Amish male is present, an outsider must approach them first, especially if the visitor is male. Additionally, visitors should not feed horses tied to parked buggies. People must also avoid touching buggies without permission. [8]

Those unfamiliar with Amish prohibitions may benefit from asking questions before taking before doing or saying things that community members may find disrespectful, especially when it involves modern technology, like mobile phones and cameras.

Essentially, Amish people must not be treated as objects to gawk at. While they have different beliefs, they are worthy of respect, and visitors should give them the honor they deserve.

Conclusion

It is disrespectful for outsiders to take photographs of Amish people because it goes against their religious convictions, as they believe photos of individuals promote vanity and individualism.

References:
[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source
[4] Source
[5] Source
[6] Source
[7] Source
[8] Source

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see the About page for details.

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