Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Bat Mitzvah on ice? Not quite, but the party was on ice.

I have photographed many Bar and Bat Mitzvahs over the last 7 years, but never had the chance to shoot an event like the one last Saturday. First of all, it was special because it was the Bat Mitzvah of the daughter of my second photographer.

That made this a little nerve racking since I know that Cheryl is as much of a perfectionist as I am, and I wanted to make sure that the images lived up to both of our high standards.

So what made this day so different from many of the others? I had never photographed at this particular Temple, which I really like. I love shooting at new places, since it is more interesting for me and provides different looking images for my portfolio. It makes me think more and find good angles, lighting and backgrounds to create the best images.

I really liked the blue background inside the synagogue and made sure to shoot so that the pretty colors were in the background.

The second thing that made this Mitzvah so different...well...I am getting ahead of myself here. Lets stick with the service first.

Since most Temples do not allow flash photography during a Saturday service, we must rely on ambient light, and this Temple had some great window light which side-lit my subjects. I love this look!
If you follow my photography, you know that I like to capture the spontaneous moments, and here are a couple of examples of that. In the image below, Cheryl was giving her speech to her daughter and said something really funny. It was at this very moment that her daughter and her ex-husband started cracking up. All three of them smiling and living the moment.

And below is another image, this one being a more poignant moment during the service, where Hallie rested her head on mom's shoulder. I was standing in the back of the synagogue and spotted this and quickly grabbed a couple of images which helps tell the story of the day.  (Photographer's note: If you want to be a successful event photographer, it is really important that you are aware of everything that is going on around you. You can't just look straight ahead at your main subject and assume that nothing else matters. You need to be looking all around for images that help tell the story of the day. This is what separates amateur photographers from the pros!)

The other big difference in this Mitzvah was that the party was held at Sharks Ice at San Jose, which is the ice rink where I have spent a lot of time over the last 11 years, but never for work.

Before I put my skates on, I had Hallie stand by the door to the rink (below her sign) to get this shot.

And then it was time to get the skates on and capture images on the move. This was the first time that I put on my ice skates and skated around the rink for an hour with a $5000 camera rig (instead of a hockey stick) in my hands. At first it was a bit discomforting trying to look through the viewfinder while skating backwards or doing cross-overs, but after a couple of minutes I was all warmed up and having fun. In all the years that I have played hockey and photographed hockey, I have never taken a camera on the ice to shoot. It was fun!

Knowing that the rink restaurant was a bit crowded for a group shot, I figured that the ice was as good a place as any, so I collected all the kids by the bench and shot this from center ice.

After an hour of skating, everyone went upstairs to Stanley's, the rink bar and restaurant, and the real party began. :)

I even got into the act on this one. Hallie's favorite hockey player from the San Jose Sharks is Mike Ricci (who is now retired but still working for the team), and I have known Mike for a long time. So, as a surprise gift to Hallie, I gave her a game used stick autographed by Mike Ricci. As you can probably tell from her smile, she loved it. It was great to have Cheryl there, since even though she was mom and not photographer on this day, she grabbed the camera and shot images of me presenting the stick to her daughter.

It was another really long day of shooting, but a great day to capture images for my friends. Oh, and in case you are wondering, Hallie was as cool and calm doing her Bat Mitzvah as she is on the ice.

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