Amish. The Long Way Home.

Late last September, after a shoot in Harrisburg, I decided to take the long way home through Pennsylvania’s Amish country. Despite having lived in PA on and off since 2001, I hadn’t visited this storied step back in time since I was a kid. With no real frame of reference, I typed the one restaurant I remembered from when I was ten into my GPS and set out for the Good and Plenty. The 45-mile journey would take me through the heart of Lancaster County and into the warm and welcoming past.

I never did make it to the Good and Plenty. The landscape was so inviting and accessible, I decided to pull off the highway and ramble through the farmland. Like John Muir supposedly once said, “Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence.” While I may not always live by this philosophy, when the opportunity presents itself, I go for it.

I came across all you would expect to see in Amish country: children innocently riding scooters (they’re not allowed to ride bikes), horses pulling families slowly and deliberately down a country road and livestock lazily grazing in the late summer sun. I wandered through fields of corn that were indeed as high as an elephants eye, came to a clearing that was swarming with more bugs than there are stars in the sky and watched a hot air balloon softly sink below the distant tree line. The one oddity that caught my eye was the horse and buggy only section at the gas station. Although It was fully equipped with a garbage can and shovel.

It was nearing dusk and I had no idea how far I was from home so I hopped into my car and set the GPS for Philly. Turns out I was only 68 miles away. After about five miles on this single lane “highway” I was met with a road closed sign and was forced to reroute. I circled around to investigate and discovered the reason for the closure of this bustling thoroughfare was a parade. Guess John Muir was calling again. It took a few more loops but I finally found a parking space next to a few horses tied to a fence.

I walked the few blocks down the road towards main street and tried to blend in. This was no easy task with a giant camera dangling from my neck. I was clearly an outsider there acting as a voyeur. I’m usually not shy or apprehensive when it comes to shooting strangers in a strange place but I didn’t want to come off as if I was on Amish safari. I was genuinely excited for this parade and just wanted to document the experience. That however can easily be construed as exploitation.

The crowd was about twenty percent Amish, five percent minority and seventy-five percent civilian white (as in not Amish.) I posted up near a family who clearly claimed their spots much earlier in the day. I’m pretty sure they had eaten breakfast and lunch there and were just moving on to dinner. A friendly gentleman wearing an Eagles hat to my right who was not with the group pointed out that I was facing the wrong way and to get my camera ready because the parade was set to kick off any minute. He asked where I was from and when I told him Philadelphia he gasped. He’d lived in this town his entire life and had never been. Need I remind you I was less than seventy miles away? He asked if it was difficult to park downtown and what Reading Terminal Market was like. I told him he should come see for himself. This he took as an invitation to meet up. We exchanged emails then a parting handshake. I’m still waiting to hear from him.

The parade finally began. The Grand Marshall’s Dick and Jean Risk kicked off the festivities followed by generations of tractor drivers and the Lancaster County Alternate Dairy Princess. The last glints of sunshine were fading fast so I turned my camera on the crowd for a few final shots before heading home. As the golden hour turned to dusk I drove off but not before stopping to get a few more shots to properly close out my day. I guess the beauty of living in Pennsylvania can be summed up by the fact that you can spend the day shooting portraits in the middle of a “city” then stumble upon an Amish farmer plowing a field by horse at sunset. 

I also feel this post might best be enjoyed while listening to this song by PHOX. The whole afternoon had a rather slow motion sort of feel to it.

Wandering the Javits Center Green Roof

Took a tour of the Javits Center green roof. 

Tatiana From Armenia

earlier today i took my students the self dubbed “village photo crew” on a photo walk to the open kitchen sculpture garden in kensington. when we arrived at the intersection of lehigh avenue and american street i noticed a woman wearing a brightly colored overgarment. she clashed with her surroundings and caught my eye not because of what she was wearing but because she was clipping plants from the landscaping outside of a rite aid. i’m a strong proponent of guerrilla gardening and the re-allocation/ propagation of city plants but rarely do i see others participating in this exercise. i walked over and asked if i could take a few pictures of her. she gracefully took my hand and introduced herself as tatiana from armenia. when i asked why she was taking the cuttings she peacefully said she was going to place them on her altar to allah. she then said she would be happy to pose as she’s often asked which she attributed to her “historic look”


Christmas Sunset in Truro

Christmas out in Truro on Cape Cod is always unpredictable when it comes to weather. We’ve seen flurries, blizzards, squalls, drizzles and this year summer. Temperatures peaked close to 70 and by 4pm I was able to lure everyone down to Corn Hill Beach to witness this extraordinary sunset.

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

Christmas Day Sunset

get on your bikes and ride NAKED

After years of missing out I finally made it to Philly Naked Bike Ride. It’s like a festive cartoon come to life. Although after 8 hours of riding through the city streets with this bright bare bodied bunch I was destroyed. It was quite the day though. Thanks to all the riders covered in color, pride, love and passion for a mightily photogenic pilgrimage.


Mother Nature

As the wife of a photographer, Natasha often falls victim to my camera. After being together for ten years, I’ve shoved my lens in her face upwards of ten billion times. It’s gotten to the point where I know not to point  it in her direction anymore. That being said I wasn’t going to let the opportunity to shoot maternity photos of her while visiting her parents out in magical Cape Cod pass me by. It took some convincing but she eventually acquiesced and here are the results.

Natasha Mell-Taylor Maternity

Natasha Mell-Taylor materniny

Wing Bowl 23 | Philthadelphia at its Phinest

I had the esteemed privilege of attending Wing Bowl 23 which was held in the early hours of January 30th at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia. There’s a great deal that could and probably should be said about this celebrated tradition but this sums it up just fine:

“PHILADELPHIA — I have found the heart of the Philly sports scene … and it isn’t pretty.

You know Paulie, Adrian’s brother in “Rocky”? Multiply him by the thousands, dress them in Eagles jerseys, fill each with a six-pack and stick them in a line so long it wraps around the Wachovia Center, throughout the parking lot and practically into New Jersey. Sprinkle some of these guys among the parked cars where they can urinate in semi-privacy. Carpet the lot with crushed beer cans and broken beer bottles. Throw in a cold wind and a winter rain.

Now, close the arena doors a half-hour before the competition begins because there is no more room inside the 20,000-seat center, forcing thousands of disappointed and angry fans to go home without the pleasure of watching 29 contestants eat as many chicken wings as possible in 14-minute rounds.

Oh, and did I mention? It’s 5:30 a.m. on a weekday. That’s right — 5:30 in the morning.” You can read the rest of the article here.

Rather Long Cape Cod Gallery

The outer cape (wellfleet, truro and provincetown) has a certain romantic majesty that for me never seems to fade. This may have something to do with the occasional day dream I have of working as a lowly deck hand aboard an 18th century whaling ship. I’ve made the trek out to Truro countless times over the better part of the the past decade to visit Tasha’s (my wife’s) family and each time I come away feeling humbled for having the privilege of experiencing such a monumentally magical land (and sea) scape. so here’s a rather long gallery featuring eighty photos from my latest trip which took place this past late August/ early September.




My dear friend Chrissy came on by last night for a drink or two but let on she couldn’t stay as she had to wake up early the next morning to attend an implosion. I’ve heard a lot of early exit excuses, but none have ever piqued my interest quite as much. She explained that a 16-story uninhabited high rise apartment building in the Germantown section of Philadelphia was due to be razed at 7:15 am by the Philadelphia Housing Authority and as she’s in the archaeological preservation business she would be attending with some co-workers. Naturally I jumped on board. I woke at 6 am the following morning and headed on out to the site which was about twenty minutes from my apartment. When I got there, I discovered a wide radius surrounding the building had been closed off by the police. I played it cool and parked a few blocks away. I gathered my gear and proceeded on foot. When I reached the main blockade I was told I could not enter as I did not have a proper pass or hard hat. I miss my days as a credentialed member of the Philadelphia Press. It was early and I was feeling fearless so I decided to head down a street that ran parallel to the viewing  area and cut through a yard that led to a wide open expanse with a clear view of the spectacle to come. The press at this point was already set up and not wanting to ruffle any feathers I found a spot behind a cameraman slightly shorter than I. (always a good tactic when you’re the last man on the scene) It was now 7:10am. Made it with five minutes to spare. I quickly noticed everyone else had ear plugs and masks. This worried me a bit as I had neither. I figured I’ve done enough damaged to my ear drums over the years and only concerned myself with the dust cloud that could potentially come floating my way.  But with no time to deal I just hoped the wind would shift and begin to blow in the opposite direction. The countdown began roughly at 7:15. As the PHA employees depressed the symbolic t-bar that supposedly set off the charges nothing happened for about 5 second then an incredible booming started echoing throughout the corridor. Moments later a plume of smoke began to rise from beneath the building and it started to dip at the corner which led to a massive and rapid crumbling. All in it took only about 10-15 seconds for the entire structure to fall. Pretty impressive.

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