Friday, March 09, 2012

Business Day Thursday (on Friday): Lessons Learned Long Ago For Capturing Great Images!

Good Morning Everyone,

The new iPap 3OK, right off the bat, I’m feeling MUCH better today and I’m raring to go with today’s post.  But first, how many of you, on Wednesday, were glued to your computer screens following the live blog of Apple's new iPad launch? I have to admit, being an iPad fan, I followed all the announcements for approximately 90 minutes. Much to LaDawn’s dismay, it looks like the new iPad might be on my upgrade list.

Quad CoreI was first in line when the iPad 1 became available. I didn't think the iPad 2 announcement was very compelling so I begged off upgrading at that time instead purchasing another top-of-the-line iPad 1 for about half price. With the new iPad announcement I think making the jump to version 3 is on my wish list.

I think the new retinal display looks amazing. It's a 2048x1536 or 3.2 megapixel screen making nearly the same resolution as a Fuji S1Orig Size Fuji Pro, the DSLR camera that came out in 1999. I'm looking at a 16x20 inch image in my studio right now that was made with the early Fuji camera. What that means is that you could do a screen grab from the new iPad and easily make a decent looking 16x20 image! Fuji Pic

I think the technology today is truly amazing. I just can't wait to shoot my first wedding using only my new iPad ;~) Okay, just kidding, but I think it's great and very exciting to be alive in this fast moving digital age.

Lessons learned Long Ago For Capturing Great Images

Stairway to Open DoorIn today's Business Day Thursday post (on Friday) I’d like to share with you an idea that I incorporated years ago into my business. That idea has been the cornerstone of success in my Bar and Bat Mitzvah photography.

I remember years ago in the early stages of my career when I received a call from an inquiring mother and eventual client to photograph their son's Bar Mitzvah. The fact of the matter is that up to that time I had never photographed a Bar or Bat Mitzvah in my life! I was this gentile kid doing a fair number of weddings within the greater Cincinnati area and had never photographed any Jewish events, much less a Bar Mitzvah.

5 Bar Mitzvah Bookings and No Experience!

I was kind of worried about what kind of samples I was going to show my perspective clients and also worried if I would even book the job. Michael and Helene, the parents of the young Bar Mitzvah boy, Adam, came to my studio that one fateful evening and I proceeded to make my presentation to them.

Torah picsI had no Bar Mitzvah photographs to show them so my sample set was all wedding images but then, as I continue to do today, presented many, many images heavily weighted towards groom. Michael and Helene, who still remain good friends today, sensed my uneasiness and then mentally took me by the hand assuring me with their kind remarks, that I was the photographer they were looking for.  And, even though this was going to be my first Bar Mitzvah, they would help me get through it.

That meeting of over 25 years ago concluded with me booking their son's Bar Mitzvah. I still remember I was thrilled and yet a little nervous. It felt like I had booked my first wedding and I know some of you reading this knows what that feels like ;~)

The next day the phone started ringing off the hook.  More people were calling for me to photograph their child’s Bar Mitzvah too!  As it turns out Michael and Helene were behind it all – they referred four more of their friends to me that next day.  Within 24 hours I had five Bar Mitzvah on my books and still had never photographed a single Bar Mitzvah in my life. What was I going to do?

A Brilliant Idea Appears!

As the first Bar Mitzvah drew closer on my schedule I was determined to make this first Bar Mitzvah shoot the best ever for my clients. I had the presence of mind to know that my young 13-year-old Bar Mitzvah boy would not have the patience for an extended photo session that a groom twice his age would give me. I decided I needed a Plan B for my photo session.

I also decided that I really needed to get a handle on what happens at a Bar Mitzvah.  I needed to know exactly what images I was required/permitted to photograph. I called my client and asked if I could be present at the final temple rehearsal with their son and the Rabbi. This is usually held on Thursday before the Saturday event. My clients graciously agreed and I headed down  to The Plum Street Temple on that fateful Thursday afternoon.

Hannah BatM Pic

The Rabbi was also well aware that I was a totally inexperienced Bar Mitzvah photographer but had been forewarned by my clients that I was indeed a decent photographer and that they indeed wanted me to photograph their sons’ Bar Mitzvah.  The Rabbi was very gracious to walk me through all the steps necessary for me to capture all the necessary and best photographs possible for my clients.

Portrait 1I also determined, in advance of my Thursday walk-thru with Rabbi, that I was going to need extra time to take all the family and individual portraits. I prearranged with the family to do those additional portraits during the Thursday final rehearsal .

My plan was this; I would set up a portable studio in the undercroft of the Temple. That included the lights and light stands, backgrounds, reflectors, and everything else I needed for my portrait session with the family.

Portable Studio Set UpIn addition to the portrait session I also wanted to capture a nice series of photographs of my young Mitzvah in the surrounds in which he would be conducting the Saturday service. This basically meant that I was going to be doing a series of on location portraits of this young 13-year-old boy.

Hannah In TempleThis session quickly evolved into my standard operating procedure for all Bar and Bat Mitzvahs that I have photographed over these many years. The parents always appreciate the fact that we can get a lot of the photographs taken two days before the very hectic event on Saturday and I really like the fact that I get to produce an outstanding series of images for my clients that no other photographer in the Greater Cincinnati area, even to this day, tries to create for their clients.  Like I always say: “It’s The Difference That Makes The Difference!”

Hannah w-Kepahs

This has become my signature style for all of my Bar and Bat Mitzvah photography coverages. The young lady featured in today’s post is the 22 cousin in this family and is the last of her family’s generation to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah – I have photographed 20 of her cousin’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah events over the last 12 years.  Talk about customer loyalty ;~) 

Bar and Bat Mitzvahs have typically comprised of about 20-25% of the events I photograph every year. I still truly enjoy photographing these wonderful celebrations.  Yesterday, I was at Adath Israel, the temple featured in these images, and photographed Charlie, the third child in his family to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah.  I have also been honored to cover the Mitzvah celebrations of Charlie’s older sister and brother. These events, while a lot of hard work, are also fun, always very exciting and they keep me feeling youthful around these young adults. We photograph Charlie’s celebration tomorrow and I know it will be a kick!

The Lesson Learned?

Lessons LearnedSo, what was my lesson learned so many years ago? If you truly want to create great images, then set aside some time to do just that.  When it comes to Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, I set aside, at no additional charge, approximately two hours for a very special photo session with my clients, including parents, brothers and sisters and sometimes even the grandparents, on the final rehearsal a few days before the big Saturday celebration.

The bottom line is this; If you make the additional effort, you'll end up with a series of photographs that are indeed striking and so different from what the other Bar/Bat Mitzvah photographers are doing in your area. And, your potential clients WILL notice!


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I’m back at the computer wrapping up my programs for Photoshop World which is just around the corner. Have a wonderful weekend and I’ll see you, all the pixels willing, on Monday.

See ya’ then,  David

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