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Monday, December 22, 2008

Top Ten Bar/Bat Mitzvah Photos of the Year

It's that end of the year, recap time again. Top Ten Movies! Top Ten CDs! Top Ten TV shows!
And, as always, Graham & Graham's Top Ten Bar/Bat Mitzvah photos of 2008.
This was our best year ever, with more events, more new locales, and new ways of looking at the art of Bar/Bat Mitzvah photography.
In first place, we begin with Dimitri @ Leo Baeck Temple.
Bar Mitzvah Photographer | Graham & Graham
Sam Graham and Dimitri pushed the limits at a Bar Mitzvah/family portrait shoot, and (with further assist from Photoshop) came up with a memorable, iconic image that we used as this year's holiday card.
Samantha @ Wilshire Boulevard Temple' s Irmas campus.
Bat Mitzvah Photography by Graham & Graham
Shortly before her Saturday morning Bat Mitzvah, we brought Samantha to the front door of the temple sanctuary, and made use of the natural light for a soft light portrait. It was made all the nicer for us with her comfy lean against the door. Against the torahs in the background, it just makes this a definitive Bat Mitzvah portrait. And you should hear the girl sing !

Lana @ Manhattan Beach's Congregation Tikvat Jacob Los Angeles Bat Mitzvah Photography by Graham & Graham
We've photographed at CTJ, our local hometown temple more than any other Los Angeles shul, but have never gotten a shot like this! In November we attended an incredible photo seminar by Doug Gordon, who encourages shooting portraits with little video lights instead of flash units. The idea is you'll get softer, less harsh light. We've been experimenting with video lights since, especially at CTJ, and love what we see, but this is our favorite.
We put the video light into an umbrella, turned off all the lights in the sanctuary, and this is what we got, a moody, reflective shot.

Sam @ Long Beach Renaissance Hotel

Long Beach Bar Mitzvah | Renaissance Hotel
Okay, this photo is not arty, but it is THE iconic Bar/Bat Mitzvah party shot, and for good reason. Who can ever tire of seeing a kid up in a chair, hoisted by his parents and friends, having an absolute blast? The confetti just makes it that much better.
Sam had his Bar Mitzvah at the Long Beach Temple Israel. It was our first time there, and we look forward to returning in February for Emily's Bat Mitzvah.

Thomas @ Santa Monica's Beth Shir Sholom

Santa Monica Bar Mitzvah Photographer

Another classic, iconic shot we can never get enough of--Bar Mitzvah boy reading from the Torah, in a beautiful temple, dressed to the nines, with his talit refelecting in the glass.
Tyler @ CTJ in Manhattan Beach.
Congregation Tikvat Jacob Bar Mitzvah
This shoot was special for a number of reasons. Manhattan Beach's CTJ is a conservative temple with strict, no-photography-during-services rules. Tyler is a special needs child who is autistic and doesn't use a lot of words. He had an afternoon service, which ended after sundown, so for the first time, at our pleading, CTJ let us document part of the service. We were honored to be there for this historic occasion. And so was Tyler, who seemed just absolutely thrilled with every moment of the big day. His enthusiasm was infectious on everyone.
Alex @ Temple Menorah of Redondo Beach

Temple Menorah Bat Mitzvah by Graham & Graham Photography
Redondo Beach's Temple Menorah is a large, beautiful building near Torrance, and it can be really dark inside, even with the lights we bring to photograph our portraits. This was our second time shooting at Menorah, and it was really, really hot inside this day. So after about a half-hour, we opened a side door to let some air in--and look at what came with it--beautiful, soft daylight. We brought Alex to the door with the torah, and let the natural light shine on her face. We loved the results so much, now we always look for the side door at all our temples!
Andy @ Orange County's Temple Beth Shalom 
Orange County Bar Mitzvah
Bar Mitzvah boy in front of torahs, with our favorite Canon 70mm-200mm 2.8 lens. It's a classic, made all the better this day thanks to Andy's orange hair, juxtaposed against the orange hue of the torahs. This was our fifth shoot at our favorite Orange County shul, Temple Beth Shalom , and we look forward to returning in 2009.
Brandon @ Camp Hess Kramer
Wilshire Boulevard Temple Bar Mitzvah | Camp Hess Kramer
Look, we traveled to Israel to photograph a Bar Mitzvah!
Not quite, but it sure looks like it. 
Brandon and his family spent the weekend at Wilshire Boulevard Temple's Camp Hess Kramer in Malibu, where he went to the torah in the rustic chapel in the woods, and then partied in a big tent below. 
It was an overcast day, so for this image, we put a flash unit on a light stand, bounced into an umbrella, to help the image pop. 

Alex @ Temple Shalom of the South Bay, Manhattan Beach Marriott.
Manhattan Beach Bar Mitzvah | Temple Shalom of the South Bay
Who can beat an outdoor ceremony on a beautiful September day overlooking a lush green golf course? That's Alex at the Bima, with smiling Rabbi Lori from Hermosa Beach's Temple Shalom of the South Bay looking on. Temple Shalom travels to different venues each weekend for its B'nai Mitzvahs, and Alex's mom choose the wonderful Manhattan Beach Marriott (we're biased--it's five blocks from our home) for the event. On this day, with Alex singing up there, and smiling so, with the greenery of the trees and grass a magnificent backdrop, the M.B. Marriott never looked finer.


David said...

I like that first one -- very cool!

Thanks for the heads-up,

Alan Nielsen said...

I agree with David, that first shot is amazing. I also love the boy reading the scriptures. They look so big compared to him.


Mitra said...

I like em all, but 1,2,4,6 are my favorites.

Beautiful work, technically and catching the feelings.


Jim Brandano said...

I have never photographed a Bar/Bat Mitzvah but after seeing your images I would love to take up the challenge. The first image is as good a piece of art at representing a solemn moment as I have ever seen. Fantastic work
Jim Brandano

Anonymous said...

I was searching online about Bar Mitzvah when I stumbled upon this post. Thanks to your incredible photography, my interest in Jewish tradition and culture has elevated. I'd like to see how this celebration is actually done. In fact, I'm preparing because my Jewish friend invited me to his son's Bar Mitzvah in Israel.

As I go on and learn more about tourism in Israel, Bar Mitzvah tours and vacation sounds more and more exciting!

I personally like Lana's and Alex's shots. Well done.