Katie Troyer

An article about Katie Troyer appeared in the The Herald Tribune called "Turning a Camera Lens on Amish Life in Sarasota" today.  The author of this article captured Katie well. I especially like the comment about the pixie dust. Katie lends a perspective that no one else has. She is an observant adult, at the eye-level of a young child. She has talent with a camera. And with words. In just a few words, she usually gets at the essence of whatever she is talking about.

I introduced Katie on this blog back in April after I met her in person. She has a blog herself, called Pinecraft-Sarasota. I have a permanent link to her blog on the right of this page.

One thing that I would like to clarify about Katie taking photos of the Amish in Sarasota. This is not considered disrespectful in Florida. Quite the contrary. Amish people often request photos from her.

The Amish rules all change in Sarasota, Florida. They watch television and movies. They wear clothes they don't normally at home, including the women wearing swim suits at the beach. And they go places that would be off limits back home.

Katie once asked a bishop, "How is it that you come to Sarasota and do things that you don't allow back in your community?" He answered by saying, "What happens in Sarasota, stays in Sarasota."

So Katie taking photos of the Amish fits right in. She has become an icon in Sarasota.

Katie was interviewed for the PBS documentary The Amish: Shunned that aired on American Experience in February this year. They could not fit her segment into the actual film, but you can see her two videos by following the link above. And I'm including them here as well.

I Had to Give up Absolutely Everything

Finding Home

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25 thoughts on “Katie Troyer”

    1. Many people say that. I would be a lot more offended if I were still Amish and couldn’t afford to go to Sarasota. But I can also tell you that when I was still Amish and got a little break now and again when I was traveling (being allowed to ride a bicycle, that sort of thing), it made my life so much more bearable. So I understand the behavior, even though I have to agree that it seems hypocritical.

      There are probably many things the Amish would deem hypocritical that I do. It is all a matter of perspective.

        1. I think I agree with you, Katie. To most people it seems hypocritical, but in the Amish mind it isn’t. Most of those of us who grow up Amish didn’t have a personal conscience against some of the things not allowed by the church Ordnung. But if we wanted to be Amish, we had to make sacrifices, and that meant following the rules of the Ordnung. It’s almost like we allowed the church rules to be our conscience. So when we were away from this external conscience, we would fall back on our own conscience. Riding bicycles and having your pictures taken away from the watchful eyes of the other community members doesn’t seem all so bad after all.

          Thank you, Katie, for your perspective.

  1. After I read that article that you mention, Saloma, I wrote the reporter to compliment him on it. He wrote back: “Thank you very much for your email. First one I’ve ever received from Alaska. Katie is a very interesting person who takes very good photographs.”
    Chris Anderson
    1741 Main Street, Sarasota, FL 34236
    T: 941-361-4863

    I’ve heard of Pinecraft most of my life but for the first time I am getting an idea of what it is actually like. I don’t think of the Amish attitude and ‘behavior’ in Pinecraft as hypocritical. Rather, in my opinion the Amish lifestyle, whether or not they articulate it, is based on not having or using the popular, easy things of modern society. Thus, they use phones- but don’t have them in the wall of their homes, they use cars and buses and trains but don’t have the vehicles in their driveways, they use bicycles but bikes are not the modern way to travel. All this means that in Sarasota they can use some conveniences BECAUSE most modern people are not there.

    I do agree, though, that cell phones are a little different- they can hide them, you see. :)

    1. Elva, I know what you mean. But in Sarasota, I believe it goes a little further than that. I’ve heard that some Amish people actually request TVs and VCRs for their rooms where they stay down there. But I think that it’s a way of letting down their hair while they are there.

      I wrote to the reporter as well. I’ve not heard back from him, but maybe that’s because I’m not from Alaska :=)

      Thanks, Elva, for your comments.

  2. These clips of Katie are great. I wonder if she ever considered writing her memoirs. I would love to read about her life, her story.
    Saloma, you’re very skilled at explaining the Amish culture and why they do what they do. I’ve learned a lot from your blog. And I say if the Amish want to watch television or use cell phones while they’re in Florida more power to them. But in so doing they appear to be hypocritical and confusing. I guess it all comes down to the saying, “Live and let live.” Or maybe just “Mind your own business.”
    My husband used to work with a Jew who ate kosher at home while he was with his family, but at work he ate whatever he chose. We both thought that was odd. But it’s he that lives in his own skin.

    1. Fran, I am with you on wanting to read a memoir by Katie. I will let her answer the question about whether she is or has considered writing her memoir.

      Thank you, Fran, for your compliment. I think it comes down to not judging others. I have enough responsibility doing what I think is right, never mind telling others what is right for them.

      Glad you stopped by.

  3. Not all Amish who go on trips away from home, whether it’s Sarasota or wherever, bend their standards. To each his own, I guess.
    A great story, though. Katie is a special person in many ways and I’m glad to know her. :)

    1. Mark, I know that there are some Amish who don’t alter their standards when they travel. I think the stricter the rules, the more there is a desire to bend them when away from the “conscience” of the community. There are also those Amish people whose personal consciences are more in sync with their community’s Ordnung and doctrine. My guess is that you are one of those.

      Had I been allowed to ride a bicycle in my community, I would have been a much happier woman. It made no sense to me that I had to hire a driver to go do grocery shopping, but I was not allowed to pedal there under my own steam.

      Thanks, Mark, for your perspective.

  4. Yes, I want to write my memoir. But only after I am finished with the background family history I am doing now. But I put that on the shelf as I needed to get the new Pinecraft postcards ready for the printer and do a few 2013-2014 photo books for the coming season. So this is in a nutshell.

  5. This conversation brought back memories.I had been in the convent for about 20years. When I was a very young sister I became aware that some of the older sisters had regular clothes they could wear when out – like for dinner or a movie..I thought they were very hypocritical.. It took awhile to figure out I was the one with the problem. i was a much happier person when I finally figured out that I didn’t need to follow the rules all the time. So good for the folks who go down to Pinecraft. They work hard and deserve to relax without having to explain!.

  6. I love the way your videos add deeper dimensions to the feature story, Saloma, and I’m glad I’ve been introduced to Katie through this blog.

    Katie, I hope you are still reading, because I hope to meet you in Sarasota when I speak at Bahia Vista Mennonite Church Jan. 11.

    Two other incredible photo stories for you. One from Bolivia with Mennonite subjects (where the issue of photographing people who don’t pose and feel uncomfortable in front of the camera is raised again):http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/photography-blog/2014/sep/30/mennonites-bolivia-jordi-ruiz-cirera-photographs

    And this one about sisters aging is amazing too! http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/10/03/magazine/01-brown-sisters-forty-years.html

  7. Mary Keim Maarsen

    I always think it is interesting to see what people consider being hypocritical. I know why people who aren’t part of an amish group can’t quite figure out some of the things that people do when they are away from the group. I grew up in a strict conservative mennonite community and I am now living in Europe. I have found that there are certain rules of what can be done or not be done no matter where you are and these are guide lines that are usually followed and this keeps things clear. I am very hesitant to label something hypocritical and especially when it comes to figuring out why the amish do what they do. I have a feeling that going to Sarasota is good medicine and saves a lot of trouble elsewhere.

    1. Mary, I think you are very right in your assessment of Sarasota being “good medicine.” And I’m with you about not labeling others’ actions. I have enough repsonsibility to keep my own actions going in the right direction.

      Thanks for your perspective.

  8. Katie,

    Your story is very touching and encouraging. You have an uplifting spirit and you are blessed with many wonderful skills. Many blessings and all the best, Miriam

  9. Hi Saloma,
    I’ve been following your lovely blog for a while now, and enjoy your posts. I just wanted to say that many of us do things on vacation that we don’t ordinarily do in our daily lives. I sit like a sloth on the beach and read books all day. I also may have a glass of wine with dinner. Does this make me a hypocrite since I’m not usually slothful nor do I drink alcohol when not on vacation? It just seems like normal vacation behavior to me! So sad that folks are so quick to judge!

    1. Carrie, you make some really good points that I hadn’t thought of before. I think you’re right, that we are all too quick to judge sometimes. I think we tend to see others’ “hypocritcal” actions long before our own.

      Thanks for your kind words about my blog. I hope you will continue to enjoy them. Thanks for stopping by!

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