The Amish live close to the land, necessarily incorporating seasonal rhythms into their lives. After all the plowing and planting and nurturing and harvesting, the landscape breathes a sigh of relief as the world enters winter dormancy.
But not the Amish. Their lives are still busy with the daily rhythms of farm life. The horses and chickens must be fed. The children must walk to their one-room schools. Ice must be harvested. Laundry must be washed and then dried out on the line. The sawmills continue operating. Wood must be cut for warmth. Barns are built. Quilts are sewn. Sunday worship is not to be missed, as the believers gather in one home, converging from nearby homes by foot and by buggy.
It is a life apart, and that’s what those of us viewing from the outside find enchanting and ultimately unknowable, because we can only view the surface.
The photographs here represent six winters of quietly and respectfully observing these families at an undisclosed location in central Michigan.
For more information about my photography, go to leerentz.com
When I go out in the world, camera in hand, the pleasures of the visual world are my subject. I usually approach photography with an open mind, not planning exactly what I would like to photograph. I find that this spontaneous approach is more creative and rewarding than simply taking straightforward photographs of, say, a mountain or a bird. Sure, I do that as well, but I don’t consider those pictures my best work.
I love finding a subject that resonates deeply with me; something where light and subject and mindset and photographic technique come together to illuminate the mystical and spiritual qualities of the world. My work follows the long history of artists and writers who strove to capture those elusive qualities: the Canadian Group of Seven artists who portrayed nature as an experience of immersive light and form; the Zen poets who spent summers working on fire towers in the west; the photographers Ernest Haas and Eliot Porter who used color photography to tell fresh visual stories about nature. All these artists used their imaginations and artistic skills to explore the world in new ways.
I print this series of photographs on Japanese Unryu paper. It is made from mulberry trees, and the fibers winding through each print lend a natural touch that perfectly suits the impressionistic subject. To see more of my photographs in this genre, and to see what sizes are available for ordering, go to the part of my website called Zen Impressions