Monday, January 25, 2010

Quick Hit Monday: I'm Humbled On Saturday; And A Peek At Bar Mitzvah Coverage

Good Morning Everybody,

Hope everyone had a great weekend.  It was super busy around here with our KPPA state convention [link] going on and me with a four day Bar Mitzvah. Let me break it down for you and in the process you might pick up a little something about Bar Mitzvah photography.

First, My Amazement At Winning Two Special Awards

To add to the super busy weekend, our KPPA president, Jessica Vogel, asked me if I could break away for about and hour from Saturday's Bar Mitzvah party. 

I found out on Friday that I was going to be named the new Vice-President for KPPA and she wanted me there for the "swearing in" ceremony during the awards banquet that evening.  I cleared it with my clients and brought my good friend and talented photographer, Steven Easley, to cover the 60-70 minutes I was going to be MIA from the party.

DAZ Award Turns out it was a lot more than just taking an oath of office for my state association.  To my great surprise I was awarded the Kentucky Award.  It's given to those people whom the panel determines has given of their time and talent to the profession and the KPPA association.  I was floored!

Then they "dropped the bomb" on me.  The highest honor one can receive for service to their profession is the National Award.  It comes for the Professional Photographers Of America. My long time buddy, Larry Long, takes to the podium for the presentation.  Nobody ever knows who the recipient is going to be.

Larry begins his short history about this years recipient.  After about 3 sentences, I realize it's me!  The people who have received this honor before is a group of some of the most esteemed photographers in the industry. This coveted honor is given in recognition of outstanding service to professional photography performed by an individual.

It is a humbling experience to receive such an honor.  My heartfelt thanks to all those at the KPPA, past National Award winners, and all those who supported me this year for this wonderful honor.

Check Out Michael Redford's Photography

Michael RedfordWe had a great lineup of presenters at this year's convention.  In fact, today, Michael Redford is presenting.  Michael is one of the most talented and successful photographers out there.  His studio is one of those “2-comma” studios if you get my drift - that means over 1,000,000 - you know, 2-commas. 

Michael and I have been friends for over 20 years.  When he was just starting out his career, he took a week long class with me.  I was teaching at the same place the following year and he was in my class again!

I asked him why he was back again. He told me that after spending the week with me the previous years and studying all my tapes, that he had paid off all his debts, including his mortgage! He was back this year to take it to the next level.

I have to tell you, I was really flattered.  In fact I mentioned to Michael at that meeting years ago, that if I was the one responsible for him making all that money, why didn't he split it with me ;~) 

Hey, all joking aside, Michael knows how to run a successful studio and is now one of the leading photography studios in the country.  Check out his site right here.  I promise you, you will love his work and get some great ideas.  You can also catch Michael giving a seminar or two as well. Don't miss it if he comes to a city near you.

A Peek A Shooting A Bar Mitzvah

People always ask, "What goes on for four days?" Well, these four days were very special.  For anyone thinking about shooting Bar Mitzvahs, let me give you the run down.  First of all, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah [link] is a ceremony when a young man or woman, age 13, comes of age and is now able to participate in all rights, privileges, and ceremonies of being a Jewish adult.  The young Bar Mitzvah literally becomes almost "Rabbi for a day" and leads the entire adult congregation in the 2-hour long Saturday service.  Add to this fact that much of the service is in Hebrew and you get an idea of the scope of the accomplishment for our 13 year old Bar Mitzvah.

On Thursday, we headed to the temple to get all the set-up photographs of our young Bar Mitzvah, his parents, sisters, and grandparents.  The actual service is held on Saturday, but with Adath Israel being a "conservative" temple, no photographs are allowed on the "Sabbath". Therefore we "re-enact" the most important parts of the service a day or two before Saturday's service.  Friday's post [link] was from that shoot.

In addition to all those photographs, we do an entire series of family portraits with all possible combinations of everyone present.  This weekend is special for not just our Bar Mitzvah, but for the entire family as well.  Everybody wants to be in the photographs.

On Friday, the family hosts the Shabbat dinner. On a Bar Mitzvah weekend, it's more that just dinner.  It's a gathering of family members and friends that are particularly close to the hosting family. This evening includes the evening blessing and then the 13 candle "candle-lighting" ceremony which honors those individuals that have influenced and been part of our young Bar Mitzvah's life.

Candle Lighting This past Friday about 100 friends and family participated in the grand event.  We arrived at 7:00 p.m. and finished about 9:30 p.m.  The dinner is always a blast.  Max, the young man whose Bar Mitzvah we were celebrating, #21 of 22 grandchildren who have been Bar Mitzvah-ed over these last several years.  I have had the honor of photographing 16 of those previous Bat Mitzvah's.

That's why I really enjoyed shooting the dinner on Friday. I had so many past clients present and it was good to seem them.

We were up bright and early for the Saturday morning service.  We were invited guests as well so we attended Max's service. At the "reformed" synagogue we are able to take photographs of the service which we do. 

The rules are different at a "conservative" temple and no photographs are allowed until 30 minutes after sunset which, by the way, was 6:23 p.m. that evening.  After the service, the family provides a nice lunch for all those in attendance - about 250 people. 

Later that evening is the BIG cerebration.  It is a wild and fun evening with about 250 people coming together to celebrate with our young Bar Mitzvah.  Notice the 4x8 foot banners on the wall I discussed last week.  Pretty cool, eh?

MAX SatAnd what a party it was, too.  I don't think anyone left the dance floor for the entire evening.  I, on the other hand, had to leave, rush across town to the Awards Banquet I mentioned above, be "sworn in", receive my awards, offer my heartfelt thank you’s, and then rush back to the party. I made the complete round trip in 70 minutes.  Thankfully, no beep from the radar detector;~)

The party rocked on till about 12:30 a.m. the next morning.  That's the time we packed our bags, said our goodbyes and headed home. Actually we headed out for a sandwich and an adult beverage.  I am too keyed up after shooting any party to head home and just go to bed.  I need the 5 hour adrenaline rush to subside for a few hours before turning in.

Max Hora We woke up bright and early Sunday morning to recharge batteries and download cards.  The Sunday Brunch was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and we needed to be on site by 11:00 a.m.  This event was very special though.  Max's grandfather, also featured in Friday's post, was celebrating his 80th birthday.

I have had the pleasure of photographing this gentleman many times over these past several years. I joked with him that he is the most photographed in Cincinnati considering the fact that he has been present at all 21 Bar/Bat Mitzvah's to date.

The Luncheon was a blast with so many stories, songs, and entertaining skits reflecting on his life.  We wrapped the luncheon about 2:30 p.m.  I said goodbye to my assistant and headed back down to our convention.  That lasted till about 10:30 p.m. What a long day!

Anyway, that's what happens when you are shooting a 4-day Bar Mitzvah.  All great fun, great photographs, and a few sore muscles at the end of the day.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  I get to go back down to, you guessed it, my convention and check in on Michael's program.  See ya' tomorrow for another episode of Technique Tuesday.

Adios Everybody,  -David


  1. David, congratulations on the awards! You truly deserve them!
    Best wishes, Jiri

  2. David,
    Congratulations, helping you with DWC in Vegas and following DPT, I thank you for all the time you give.


  3. Out here in L.A. they usually only want us for the ceremony and party--two days tops, but usually 1 day. Do you have a lot of 4-day Bar/Bat Mitzvahs in Kentucky?

  4. David;

    Congratulations.You shouldn't be surprised at their choice. I think it is well earned. I'm surprised that you found the time to attend.


  5. I know you do not do what you do for awards, but it is still re-affirming when one receives acknowledgement from one's peers.

    Congratulations David, and THANK YOU for all your selfless and generous sharing of your knowledge over the years!

    With appreciation & best wishes,


  6. What a weekend!

    Congratulations, David! If there was a People's Choice Award for photographers, you'd be a hands-down winner of that, too. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience so generously.

  7. David, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!! I'm yelling from Lebanon, Ohio, can you hear me in KY?? *LOL* Seriously, you deserve it!! You are such an inspiration to all of us that follow you here! I wish I could see more pictures of you winning that award??!! :)

  8. I'd also like to "pile on" to all the accolades you've been given, and congratulate you on your awards. I'm amazed no only by your photography, but your willingness to share with the rest of us, and how generous you with your time in presenting all the material you do.

    Quick question about the 4x8 foot banners: Are these common at Barmitzvahs, and what vendor do you use to print these?

    Thanks again for your kind help,
    - Arved

  9. Congratulations David. When we do what we do because we enjoy and have a passion for what we do not just photography), it is most rewarding and humbling when one receives recognition from their peers.
    Your dedication to your profession is obvious through DPT, DWUC, Kelby Training, and oh yes! your clients for which you provide spectacular images. The time you spend producing wonderful and informative videos (free or paid for) do not go unappreciated.
    You are both a standard bearer as well as a virtual mentor to many a photographer.
    You deserve this high honor! - Doug Peek