This photo series tells the story of Zachary Tyler Roberts, a man who moved back to Lancaster, Pennsylvania years after his brother shot and killed five young Amish girls, and his experience back with the Amish people. This photo series displays both the life of Roberts and his family and the life of the Amish community.
The entire series is in black and white, something that adds an almost nostalgic feeling to the series. The series alternates from pictures of Roberts’ family to pictures of Amish life, displaying both the good and bad times of both situations. However, this set up of alternating between pictures of Amish life and family life seems to slightly cloud the meaning of the series. I found that I would get distracted throughout the series; it seems as if it would send a clearer message if it focused on just one of the stories. The alternating views does, however, aid in pacing the story. It gives the story a rhythm: it mainly follows an Amish then family picture pattern, and they often go from a powerful picture to a simpler picture.
The first image in the series depicts five young Amish boys. This image was most likely chosen because it is a juxtaposition to the five young girls who were murdered by Roberts’ brother. The boys aren’t doing anything, but perhaps this is why the picture is so powerful. In today’s society, young children are expected to be carefree and happy, but in this picture, the children seem slightly sad and burdened. The last photograph is a picture of sun shining through trees and is captioned “the light in the midst of all the darkness”. This picture is a striking image, and the caption only adds to the power of the image.
The captions of the photographs add to the series; they gave the viewer insight into the mind of the photographer. This allows the viewer to see what mindset Roberts was in while taking the photographs and what they mean to him, and they help to see his story.
One of the most striking images in the series is a picture of a road in Lancaster. It is at what appears to be a four-way intersection, so there are two roads to turn onto, or one that continues straight down the road, seemingly disappearing into the horizon. The clouds are dark above this endless road, creating an ominous feeling, yet also a feeling of hope. The roads represents the many different paths in life, as Roberts displays in his caption “the different directions life can take us”.