My Number 1 Tip for the Best Bar/Bat Mitvah Photos

by Jay Lawrence Goldman

Have a Pre-Shoot

There are multiple benefits to scheduling a portrait shoot with your photographer 2-3 months before the event.

All young teens react differently to cameras. Some are “hams” (nothing to do with pork), and some are much more reserved. The Urban Dictionary definition of a “ham” is: Someone who says or does silly things to be the center of attention. Although anyone can be a “ham”, you’ll often see this with children who are around unfamiliar adults.

Side note: Originally the word was hamfatter, meaning “actor of low grade,” and has been linked to an old minstrel show song, “The Ham-fat Man” which dates from about 1863.

Other young teens are not comfortable posing for photos. They may be much more self-conscious and feel awkward. They may have a hard time smiling naturally, or appearing relaxed in the pictures.

As the session progresses, I start to show them images that stand out on the back of my camera. If we are at my studio, I will upload them right away for them see. Nine out of 10 times, they are blown away by the shots, their energy changes and they start to relax and become more natural.

An hour photo shoot with your photographer will allow for rapport to be established with the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. You should take few minutes to discuss your child’s personality and interests. Make sure they have some wardrobe changes that represent who they are at this time in their lives. Props are fine, or it can be much more low key like a casual headshot session for an actor. This valuable time with your photographer will give him or her insight into how much your child loves or hates photos, or somewhere in between. It gives us a reference point as to how to work with the Bar/Bat Mitzvah on the actual day of the event. – I will go into the best way to prepare for the temple shoot in a follow up post.

The photos from a session can be used in multiple ways.

  • A photo on the cover or in the service printed prayer book.
  • Photos will work well in any type of video montage.
  • A hard cover guest book can be printed with multiple photos spread out with blank pages for guests to sign.
  • Photos can be used throughout the party as part of the decor.
  • A signature board is a 16″x 20″ print in a frame with an oversized mat to sign on.