Thursday, April 23, 2020

A Zoom Bar Mitzvah during the Covid-19 pandemic

It seems like forever since I packed up my camera gear and photographed an event. It was actually on March 7th that I photographed a Bar Mitzvah, and ever since that the world has been severely disrupted by the Covid-19 virus.

But last week, a client who was supposed to have a Bar Mitzvah at a temple here in the South Bay, called me and asked if I was willing to do some portraits of them (from a distance) before they had their virtual mitzvah over Zoom.

Knowing that we could still get really nice photos of them from a distance of 6 feet or more, I jumped at the chance to do this for them. I even offered to do it for free, since it was not a full day event and it didn't seem right to charge them during this time.

(Canon 1D X Mark III, Canon 70-200mm lens at 200mm, ISO 250, f/4, 1/250 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1.5)

I pulled up to their house and texted them that I had arrived. I stayed outside and waited for them to come outside. I usually start photographing the Bar Mitzvah boy first, so I followed my normal routine.

I had Ben come out into their front yard and started taking portraits. I was using my Canon 1D X Mark III with the Canon 70-200mm lens and a Canon 600EX-RT flash (powered down to -1.5 in ETTL mode). Luckily, we had overcast skies, so harsh sunlight was not an issue.

(Canon 1D X Mark III, Canon 70-200mm lens at 150mm, ISO 250, f/4, 1/250 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1.5)

After getting some nice shots of Ben, I asked him to get his brothers for some photos of the three of them. I saw that Ben was about 10 feet in front of his siblings and thought that it would make a fun shot with him in focus and his brothers slightly out of focus in the background.

(Canon 1D X Mark III, Canon 70-200mm lens at 160mm, ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1.5)

Then I had the three of them sit on the front step to their house to get this more traditional photo of the three handsome boys.

(Canon 1D X Mark III, Canon 70-200mm lens at 140mm, ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/160 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1.5)
After I was done with the boys, I had them get mom and dad outside for some family portraits. It was really weird to photograph them while forcing myself to keep a distance. Usually I turn the camera around and show them what I am capturing, but not this time.

(Canon 1D X Mark III, Canon 70-200mm lens at 140mm, ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/250 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1.5)
Mom had the idea of getting photos of them wearing face masks, which I just loved.

(Canon 1D X Mark III, Canon 70-200mm lens at 145mm, ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1.5)
The job of a photographer is to tell a story and nothing tells the story more than this photo.

(Canon 1D X Mark III, Canon 70-200mm lens at 102mm, ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/160 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1.5)
I love that the family was making the best of a very tough situation. In that spirit, I asked them all to give me that "oh well...we are doing the best we can" look for this portrait (which is one of my favorites).

(Canon 1D X Mark III, Canon 70-200mm lens at 200mm, ISO 160, f/4.5, 1/250 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1.5)
When I originally drove to their house, I scouted the area to see if there were other good locations for portraits. I really liked this one wall with nice foliage in the background. So, after getting portraits in front of the house, we all walked across the street to get some portraits in this second location.

(Canon 1D X Mark III, Canon 70-200mm lens at 140mm, ISO 160, f/5, 1/200 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1.5)
I finished taking portraits across the street from their home and we were saying our goodbyes when the family asked if we could do one more photo. They wanted me to capture a photo of them showing the tension that this shelter-in-place is causing in us all. I got this photo of them strangling each other.

When I returned home about 15 minutes later, I quickly retouched 5 or 6 of my favorite images and sent them to the family before they started their Zoom Bar Mitzvah. And then I logged on to watch some of this unique event.

This was definitely not your typical Bar Mitzvah service, but the essence of the service was still there.

(Canon 1D X Mark III, Canon 70-200mm lens at 160mm, ISO 320, f/7.1, 1/200 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1.5)
I liked this family portrait so much that I printed, matted, and framed it for the family. Later that afternoon I drove back over to their home and gave them this as a gift. I am not sure who benefited from this the most; them for having the photos, or me being able to do what I love to do so much.

Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.


Ariel said...

Jeff: You are amazing! It meant so much for you to come to our home and capture Ben's Bar Mitzvah morning. You brought a special vibe to the morning by making Ben feel like a rockstar with your photography. You beautifully captured the emotions of the event. We will forever cherish these photos. You exude your passion for your art and you definitely took it to the next level when you dropped off the framed photo. Yesterday, Jude (our youngest) was looking at that photo. He said "I want a copy for my room so I can always remember our family!" I can't wait for you to capture our family again when the social distancing lifts.
Forever grateful,
the mom in the photos

Linda Allen said...

Jeff, lovely, lovely photos! You really are my favorite photographer and one day I hope to "grow-up" to shoot beautiful photographs like you. My favorites are the first picture and the group shot of the family wearing their masks while expressing their sense of humor.

I work a Corporate job and luckily we are still working, but from home. We are not currently working on Fridays so I was able to meet up with my good friend this morning to take Cap & Gown photos of her son (who is graduating high school). It was great to get outside for some sun and fresh air, while socially distancing :-).

What a beautiful comment from your client (Ariel). It is always gratifying when you receive from clients on what your photographs mean to them. As soon as I setup my Instagram account, you will be the first photographer I follow! LOL!!! Keep up the great work and stay safe.

Anonymous said...

Strangling each other. That'll leave a mark.

davenelson said...

Amazing! I really loved seeing this, maybe some of my wedding photographer friends can take this as inspiration.