Shaker brooms

One of the things I like about photography as a hobby: I never know what will catch my eye and make me spend time photographing it.

For example, when my wife and I were walking in Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, southwest of Lexington, Ky., a few years ago I never could have guessed I would be spending about 10 minutes studying hand-made brooms hanging in a shop display trying to find the best angle for a photograph. But it happened and it’s the subject of my photo of the week.

The layers of textures and the lack of color variation in the scene caught my attention, but a photo of a rack of brooms is extremely boring. And a close-up photo showing only bristles would be equally boring.

After studying the display I decided the best way to convey the layers of textures would be to shoot from moderately close, for lack of a better description. I wouldn’t show an entire broom. I wouldn’t even show the entire head of an individual broom. Instead, I would compose the photo to use portions of different brooms to show all the key components — the bristles, the binding string and the bundle where the head meets the broomstick.

I think this best exhibited the craftsmanship in the brooms while creating a photograph that was still visually interesting.

And, yes, other people in the shop gave me odd looks while I photographed brooms. But I’m used to that. I’m a photographer.

There are a small number of Shaker villages still in existence in the United States, each serving as an example of the interesting Shaker architecture and lifestyle.

We spent a couple of nights at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Ky. The village, near Harrodsburg, Ky., is the site of a Shaker religious community that was active from 1805 to 1910. Many of the structures in the village have been restored and are now used as an inn for lodging.

The site, a National Historic Landmark, features unique Shaker architecture.

Every structure in the village provides a lesson in history and architectural ingenuity as well as an opportunity for photo hobbyists to capture interesting images.

There’s a lot of activity in the village. Local craftsmen and women, dressed in clothing suitable for the period and using tools available in the 19th century, create furniture and other items while visitors watch. The items are sold in the shop at Shaker Village, with proceeds from sales used to help sustain the historic village.

The website for Shaker Village that includes information for visitors is

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.


Date/time: June 13, 2008, 10:14 a.m.  
Location: 37°49'6.671" N 84°44'18.161" W (Show in Google Maps)  
Camera: Canon EOS 40D  
Lens: Canon EF-28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (35mm) 
Aperture: f/4  
Shutter: 1/60th second  
ISO: 400