Sunday, September 30, 2012

Capturing special moments from a special Bar Mitzvah

Yesterday was another fun day of Mitzvah photography. I got to spend the day with a great family and shoot images of a budding hockey star. Evan is a really talented 13 year old kid, who is also the captain of his hockey team. And since I play ice hockey a couple of times a week, I always feel a special bond with a family that spends a lot of time at a rink.

As always, we started the day shooting portraits at the Temple. We had perfect overcast skies which made my job just that much easier, not having to deal with bright sunlight and harsh shadows. (Photographer's note: For this image, I shot at f7.1 to make sure that everyone was in focus. This is critical when shooting portraits when you have people at varying distances from you. If I had shot this at f4 and focused on the boys, mom and dad would have been out of focus. I also used a fill flash at -1 stop to add a touch of light without making it look overly flashed.)

One of my favorite photos to take before the service, is the tight shot of the child reading from the Torah (taken at a very wide aperture). This is the first time that I have had the child lean into the frame, but I really liked the composition. Good job Evan!

I really like this photo of Evan for two reasons. First of all, he has a really nice and relaxed smile, but I also love the lighting on his face. Instead of using a diffused flash, I removed the diffuser, and pointed the flash at the wall to my left. As the well known wedding photographer, Denis Regie, calls it, I "foofed" the light off the wall and back onto the right side of Evan's face. This creates a perfect light / shadow ratio on his face. 

Shooting many of these services, I am always looking for the unscripted moments that make the service special. the service progressed, and each family member would give Evan a kiss after their portion of the service, and it became an impromptu them.

Even the Rabbi joined in on the fun!

Being a good photographer means that you have to be ready to shoot those special unscripted moments without hesitation. And sometimes, it helps to be lucky and have your camera pointed in the right direction to capture great reactions. In this case, I had just swung my camera to my left to grab images of the family up on the bema, when mom and dad started cracking up. I love this moment! (Photographer's note: Just like playing hockey, it is very important to keep your head up and look all around you. Even though your main subject may be straight in front of you, there are plenty of other photo opportunities to either side or behind you. Don't just capture the obvious.)

This is one of those scripted moments, with mom and dad handing the Torah to their son. 

The key to successful event photography is to capture the story of the day. This particular image tells an important story for this family. The grandfather was not able to make his way to the bema, so the Rabbi came down to them for their portion of the service. I saw that Evan was watching his grandparents, and framed the image so that his grandparents were in prefect focus, while he was just soft another to be visible as a secondary subject.   

The whole family watching watching Evan read from the Torah.

This is one of those unscripted moments that I would hate to have missed. The Rabbi looked over at Evan's brother and complimented him on his reading of a Hebrew passage, at which time, he raised his hands in victory. This is one of those priceless moments which make a photographer really happy!

Before the party started, we took more photos of the family and friends, now dressed more casual than earlier in the day. 

As a surprise to Evan, 25 of his friends got together and planned a flash mob for his party. I took photos of the kids who were dancing and then quickly moved back (using a 16-35mm wide angle lens) to grab images of them dancing with Evan watching them.

These girls were too darned cute. Instead of taking the standard photo at their eye level, I held my camera up over them and asked them to look up at the lens. 

There are certain moments of any party that must be captured by the photographer. In this case, the mother son dance was one of those moments. I quickly switched to my Sigma 85mm 1.4 lens so that I could capture this photo with a narrow depth of field.

I used the same 85mm 1.4 lens to key in on Evan while he watched his photo montage. (Photographer's note: Notice the narrow depth of field when shooting at f1.4. Only Evan is in focus and everyone else is soft. This helps to draw the attention of the viewer right to Evan, and that is what I want.)

Towards the end of the evening, I felt like I had reached that point of the evening where I had covered everything. Instead of packing up and leaving (which I never do), I decided to shoot some images with a fish eye lens.

I have never used this lens at a dance party before, but had a great time capturing some unique photos with this 15mm lens.

I also used the extra time to go outside the Valencia Hotel (located in Santana Row in San Jose, CA) to shoot some outside shots of the venue. 

I have worked numerous parties with Grady, who is one of the most awesome DJ's in the Bay Area, and had fun shooting this photo for him. He was getting ready to hand out the glow sticks, but I asked him to hold them up for a couple of photos. I turned off my flash, and using the light from the glow sticks only, I shot some photos of Grady. I needed a little more light on his face, so I asked my son Connor (who was shooting video with a small video light) to throw a tiny bit of light on Grady's face.

As you can tell, I have a great time shooting these types of events, and try to find the unique shots in whatever environment I find myself in. What a fun job!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice tip about the f7.1 and f4 difference. I see so many people shooting at 2.8 because they want to "stylize" with creamy dreamy bokeh but their depth of field is so tight they can't even get a person's whole face in focus, much less the people standing with them.