I took this picture during a Bat Mitzvah service at Congregation Kol Tikvah. When photographing a Bat or Bar Mitzvah, often the photographer is not allowed to take pictures during the service. Some temples will allow photography, however the photographer must me at the back of the sanctuary and is not permitted to move. This means that a long lens with the ability to bring the subject in close is required. These lenses are expensive because the need to have a long reach and the ability to work in low light situations. The lens I used for this shot is the Canon 70-200 F2.8. There are lot's of parts of a Bat Mitzvah service and as a photographer you need to be aware of every special moment and ready to get the shot in a split second. This means your eye is in the eyepiece at all times. It's one of the most challenging aspects of Bat / Bar Mitzvah photography. It's also one of the parts I enjoy the most. When I arrive at the temple I photograph the Bat Mitzvah child along with her family around the temple. Usually the temple allows me to take out a Torah which could be used for posed pictures. Some temples have a photography torah. Since the torah is going to be used during the service, it's scrolled to a certain part of the ceremony. Not wanting the Bat Mitzvah child to loose her place I'll shoot with a different torah. Some of the pictures I take are reenactments of what would take place during the service. If the photographer is not allowed to photograph the live service then these pictures will cover the service part of the Bat Mitzvah in the album. If the photographer I allowed to take Bat Mitzvah service pictures than there is still a chance that something shot live could be missed. During a service, people move around, turn their heads away, get blocked by guests. Taking post reenactment pictures is a good back up. This South Florida Bat Mitzvah service picture was shot live.
There are certain parts of a Bat Mitzvah service that your photographer should capture or stage if possible. I start off the the parents dressing the Bat / Bar Mitzvah child first. A sequence of pictures that show the parents putting on the Tallit is always a great way to show how special the child is. These pictures should convey the family closeness and emotions of this very special day.
Once the service starts there are some key photographs that should be captured. One is the taking out of the torah. This shot is difficult because the person taking out the torah will have their back to the camera. This is a great photos to get, the second the person taking out the torah turns about you should be able to capture the persons face.
Another great moment is then the torah gets passed down from family member to family member. Starting with the grandparents the torah get passed down to the parents and then to the Bar / Bat Mitzvah child. The meaning is that the torah / scroll is being passed on from one generation to the next.
Once the Torah is opened the Bar / Bat mitzvah child reads from the scroll, this part is known as the haftorah. The child has spent countless hours learning Hebrew and this moment is one of the most dramatic parts of a South Florida Bat Mitzvah service. For the photographer getting pictures of this part is a priority. Next family and relatives read a portion from the torah. This part is called an Aliyah. As a South Florida Bat Mitzvah photographer, it's important to get pictures of each person reading. This takes a combination of patients, and a sharp eye to get each person.
After everyone had read the torah get dressed, this means the cloth cover is put back on by being slipped over the top of the scroll. Sometimes during the service the Torah is held up creating an opportunity for a dramatic picture. To see more pictures from Bat / Bar Mitzvah parties and services look through my website and Blog. Here are a couple direct links to other South Florida Bat Bar Mitzvahs I have photographed.
Location: 6750 N University Dr, Parkland, FL 33067.