An Outing & a Meeting

We're Ready

We’re Ready

Yes, I’ve said it many times before. This has been a busy year. Family life, a relocation, constant work on the new house and home studio, meeting and greeting the new neighbours, a wedding assignment, scheduling portraiture, doing some landscape photography for my portfolio, attempts to get back into illustration while photography continues to rule the world, a couple photography competitions, some research completed for future sci-fi, fantasy and aviation art projects, plenty of community research for Hammer Home, fitting street photography in whenever I can, self-promotion and seeking other ways to promote the art of MOF. Even blogging has become a greater challenge to keep up with than ever before. By the way, thank you to everyone for all of your awesome likes comments and e-mails. I appreciate them tremendously.

Well, it finally came time for me to try to get away for a little while. Kim planned a day-trip to St. Jacobs, ON. We’ve been there before a number of times over years but never with a focused interest in the Mennonite community of the area. To heighten the adventure, I let a fellow blogger know that we were going to be in his neck of the woods in case there would be an opportunity for our paths to cross for the first time. If you know the name Neil de Boer, then you’ve probably been to his blog Village Photography (if not, do take a look).

True, I’m very much a loner; a controversial thing to say about myself I know, but I am affable and I do enjoy meeting new people, especially other artists.

Farm Boys

Farm Boys

There are indeed plenty of horror stories of people; adults and certainly juveniles, crossing great physical distances to meet strangers that they’ve only had some contact with on the Internet. On the other hand, there have also been some achievements in such extending of the olive branch. Neil gave us a meeting location, and we kept the rest tentative. Picking up the nieces around 8am, we drove the 80km (50mi) from Hamilton to St. Jacobs. Of course, I had a camera with me.

My wife loves to shop, so the peripheral St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market and Flea Market was our first stop. We then took a horse drawn bus ride to an area of close-knit “Old Order” Mennonite farms. A very restricted amount of photography was allowed. Our guide was a modern Mennonite named Nelson. Through him, I finally had a number of questions answered about Mennonite culture and their varied sects. You can find out a lot of things from the World Wide Web, and still from books but there’s also considerable benefit in getting facts from the horses mouth when you can.

There is one question that I forgot to ask; however. I know that the modern Mennonites do drive cars and travel abroad but many of even the modernists are known to object to having their pictures taken. What happens when there’s a requirement for their picture to be taken for a passport or drivers license? I imagine that would have to be one of the few exemptions but I’d still like to know for sure.

Sunshine on the Farm

Sunshine on the Farm

Right after the tour, we got something to eat and I phoned Neil to see if he was available. He was, so we headed off to the rendezvous point in downtown St. Jacobs.

There He Is

There He Is

Upon first sight, I gave him my standard greeting. I aimed a lens in his direction and shot him.

Good contact, we spent a couple hours discussing photography and the arts in general. It was a great way to close the day’s excursion, and do a little networking.



It was a pleasure to finally meet you, Neil. We’ll do this again.


29 thoughts on “An Outing & a Meeting

    • I also almost met Aaron Offord earlier this year. We’ll have to try again.

      It is an interesting experience after following their work for a while and making comments about their output from great distances away. Some people dream of meeting their favourite rock stars, and get their wish. To me, it’s pretty much the same thing and I strongly encourage people to get acquainted with their local artists. It’s fun and informative.

    • Thank you so much.

      When I was younger I never thought that portraiture, wedding photography and street photography; pretty much anything to do with photographing people, would play a big part of my life. People matter, and as I became increasingly concerned with documenting people’s lives; trying to show the world that everybody is a somebody, I found myself drawn to these forms and genres.

      I wish I could tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that they never thought the photos that they had of family and friends meant so much to them until they lost those pictures in house fires, inclement weather or even burglaries. Just look at the way many people constantly post pictures of themselves and others they know on social media sites. It’s important.

      Being a visual artist, I try very hard to make portraits that convey a persons general or deepest character. Not just make a typical “say cheese” pic. It works out best when I have a chance to talk casually with the subject I’m photographing so that I can figure out how I’m going to pull their personality through a lens. It’s not easy to do, and it may have been no more than 10 minutes into talking with Neil that I actually made that shot; hardly close to getting to know him at all. I hope that he’ sees the image and is pleased with the result.

      • Yes, images are powerful. I’m sorry in this digital age to forfeit to happenstance of coming across an old photo out of the blue and being transported…but it’s the images that transcend the personal by “pulling the personality through a lens,” that speak to our emotion- those are the images that make art.

    • Thank you. They were plough horses, I forget the actual name of their species. I’m very impressed by the musculature of these beasts. I should have made morse shots of that. Very powerful and beautiful animals.

  1. I have to say it was a real pleasure meeting you and your family Allan. Love the shots of your day in the St. Jacobs area. I see in the first shot you took of me I got caught with my lens cap on! One more lesson learned in the art of street photography ;-} Even though as photographers we tend to work on our own I have always found it inspiring and informative to meet up with another photographer who is willing to share their experiences. Another benefit is that now I can put a voice to the insightful narrative you bring to each of your posts. Thanks for sharing Allan. I am sure we will get together again.

  2. Sharing experiences with other photographers is wonderful as they always have something new to show you that enables you to develop further as well. All of my “meetings” have been here at the moment but one day… Wonderful shots as always & I hope that everything is good in the new home.

    • It had been a year and a-half since the last residents were in it, so the Forsythia bushes have been growing wild. We have cut away and shipped out a tremeandous amount of overgrowth but the new home is great otherwise. Thanks, John.

  3. I see you like to meet other artists! HI! I’m Jasmine! I very much like your photography (AND your copyright graphic it’s very clever) Hope this finds you well and excited to have a NEW READER!!!!

  4. Neil is fortunate, so so lucky to, even just, be photographed by you. I mean it. I am envious.

    Up here! I struggled, and still am, to catch up with blogging and following my favorite blogs. One thing is certain though. I had learn it a long time ago, and I realized it again just weeks ago. I can never fully leave the blogging world. I may go away but I will always come back. I’ve been very busy, but I gotta have some sort of outlet for my creativity, thoughts, and for my photos to share to the right audience.

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