Bat Mitzvah – ‘Just a few’

Bat Mitzvah – ‘Just a few’

I recently covered a Bat Mitzvah ( similar to a Bar Mitzvah, but for a girl of twelve years, and generally lower key), and was asked by the girl’s mother to capture the event like a photo story, with just a few family group portraits and table shots. The mother is going to make a photo book of the event, so my brief was just to supply of high resolution photo files.

With many years of shooting different types of event photography, be it social or corporate I have found that the phrase “just a few” can mean any number from three to the sky’s the limit. (It can also be same with headshot photography.) Hence why I make sure to know as much as possible who both the immediate family and extended family are, and anyone such as a great grandparent. Group and posed family portraits I’ll take at the start of the event or in the case of this Bat Mitzvah, after the service in the Synagogue, and before the reception and luncheon. It’s always best if possible to take group photographs at the beginning of an event, people tend to be fresher and more obliging, and not to mention the odd person who may be the worse for alcohol later on. Once I know I have taken the necessary groups photos, I can then put on my photojournalist hat, blend in with what is going on and start creating a photo narrative. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t forget the table shots. Most were taken once everyone was at their allotted tables, (10 tables, 12 on each, plus a large children’s table) and before people started eating, with two being taken before the puddings.

Contrary to popular belief the main part of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is not the party or the dinner however big or small that they may be, it is what happens during the Synagogue service, after usually a year of learning by the child and she/he becoming of age according to Jewish law. This can be anything from only giving a talk about the Biblical portion of the week to also include being called up to read or chant from the Torah scroll, and for some they will also lead parts of the service. Other family members may well take part in the service.

For a photojournalist, this is where the meat (kosher of course) of the story is, however in accordance with Jewish law I could not take photographs within the service on a Saturday.   This I did at the rehearsals on Friday afternoon.

The featured photograph says much of what the Bat Mitzvah girl did. I’m taking the image from behind to the right of her, the foreground shows the open Torah scroll, from which she was going to read from, she is holding her speech telling about what she is going to read in Hebrew, and her take on the Torah portion, and how she found her learning. In the distance you can see the Holy Ark in which the Torah scrolls are kept showing two other scrolls in it. During the rehearsals I captured many images filled with narrative to the delight of the proud parents.

In addition to the high resolution photo files, I made a tape slide/video using Lightroom and gave this to my clients. a pleasant surprise for them.

I’m so pleased that I love what I do. And the next day was a ‘big cheque’ presentation more PR photography then an event, which had to be turned around within an hour – nothing like the spice of life to keep you on your toes.

And for those that would like to know, I used both a Leica M9 and Nikon D700 camera to shoot the Bat Mitzvah, which was held in a Reform Synagogue, which allowed a girl to read from the Torah scrolls.

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