Ira Casel Photography

How to Choose a Mitzvah Photographer

Choosing a mitzvah photographer is one of the most important tasks in planning your child's bat or bar mitzvah. It's important to put in the thought required to choose the right mitzvah photographer for your family.

There’s a lot more to being a mitzvah photographer than having a fancy-looking camera or evening knowing how to use it. When you are planning your child’s bar or bat mitzvah, you want to avoid hiring someone inexperienced or less than expert. It would be a mistake to trust one of your family’s most important milestone events to someone who relies on taking an inordinate number of pictures and hoping for the best. Here are some of the factors you should consider when choosing a mitzvah photographer.

Past Clients’ Experiences

A great way to find out what it would be like to work with a mitzvah photographer is to find out from others what their experiences were like. Take a look at the comments and reviews the photographer shares on their website. Better yet, look at any independent reviews posted online, such as Google reviews. Another great thing to do is talk to actual past clients about their experiences with a particular photographer. Ask not only about what they liked about the pictures but about how they enjoyed working with the photographer. Was the photographer flexible, easygoing, accommodating, warm? Did the photographer make people feel comfortable, did they put everyone at ease?

Experience and Commitment

You’ll probably want to ask any photographer you’re considering how long they have been photographing professionally. Long years of experience don’t necessarily translate to wonderful pictures or a great client experience but you'll want to know if a photographer only started handling mitzvahs last year. You can assume that a photographer who has covered a hundred or more mitzvah events will be better equipped to handle whatever situations or challenges that may arise than someone who’s only been a second photographer at half a dozen.

Also, you might want to ask whether photography is this person’s full-time business, or if it’s a second job, weekend gig, or side hustle. You’d likely find a full-time photographer more committed and client-service oriented than someone whose main income comes from another source.

Technical Skill and Artistic Vision

At a bare minimum, you need a photographer who has the technical proficiency to capture properly exposed, sharply focused, well-lit photographs at your pre-mitzvah portrait session, temple portraits, and of course at your party, regardless of the lighting conditions. Yet, your family’s mitzvah celebration deserves more than the bare minimum. Pictures that aren’t fuzzy or dark is a pretty low bar. Proper exposure and sharp focus aren’t enough. That will just get you technically acceptable images. It won’t get you treasures.

You’ll need a photographer with creativity and an artistic point of view to create photographs that will make your heart sing. You need someone who knows who to use light, composition, sensitivity and timing. A great mitzvah photographer will anticipate and capture moments in a way that makes them come alive and brings the feelings of the day flooding back to you. Find someone whose pictures of other people’s families make you feel something and you’ll be on your way to choosing the best mitzvah photographer for you.

Personality & Demeanor

The personality and demeanor of your mitzvah photographer might be as important than their artistry and technical skills You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your mitzvah photographer, on one of your family’s most important days, so it’s critical to choose a photographer whose personal style meshes with yours and fits your needs. You want someone who is going to be easygoing and helpful, focused on solving and smoothing over any problems that arise. You want someone who will treat your guests the way you’d like to be treated. You don’t want to hear from your great aunt that your photographer was rude. It will add to the experience of your mitzvah celebration if you like your photographer personally. At the very least, as long as your mitzvah photographer doesn’t rub you the wrong way, they won’t detract from your enjoyment of the overall mitzvah experience.

Photographic Style

As you shop around and research the various mitzvah photographers in your area and beyond, you’ll start to notice various photographic styles. Some photographers’ work will appeal to you and others will not, based on composition, lighting, posing and the moments a photographer chooses to capture and then share with the world. Be sure to dig into a photographer’s web site to look for consistency. Look and see if there is a deep archive of photos in the style that moves you or just a few. Also, ask a photographer you’re interested in to see a large collection of photographs from one bar or bat mitzvah so you can get a sense of their complete vision of the event.

Choose the Best You Can Afford

Ben Franklin said, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” This is very true with mitzvah photography. Mitzvah photography is a temporal business. Neither you nor the photographer can go back and make the pictures better later. These photographs will be your only tangible reminder of your family’s mitzvah event once the music stops and the lights come up. If your budget can’t be stretched, consider booking a package with fewer elements. Perhaps save the album for the year after the mitzvah, when you’ll be past all of the large expenses. The quality of the photographs is much more important than any extras that might be included in a package and will provide you with more joy over a great many years than many of the party “extras” on which you may feel compelled to spend your money.


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