My First Bar Mitzvah. / by Luke Cheng

This past weekend I was privileged to photograph my first bar mitzvah... and I hope it's not my last! A client contacted me via Thumbtack months ago to arrange my photographic services for this life marking event. I have obviously heard of bar mitzvahs before, but never had I been to one. My client explained to me all the intricacies of what they are all about, and how sacred many of the moments are. I knew that I would have to really be attentive to every moment of the bar mitzvah as it took place. I definitely did not want to miss out on capturing something crucial.

I've photographed many events before, so I drew upon my experiences to get this event done properly. I think a bar mitzvah can be compared very similarly to a wedding. Both are huge events with things constantly going on. As a photographer, there were two disadvantages I had to work around as I captured images of the bar mitzvah. One, no flash was allowed during the ceremony, so I really had to really on high ISOs and the ability of my cameras to capture things properly. Second, I was confined to a very small area in the back of the sanctuary. I could see the service as it happened, but I was not really a part of it. I couldn't freely walk around as I pleased. Though I had to work with these limitations, it was important to me to make sure I was following the boundaries given. I want to be respectful to all the people who I work with and who are around me.

The bar mitzvah service was amazing to be a part of. I could definitely see why they are such a momentous event in a young child's life. Much preparation both mentally and spiritually have to be given in order to go through with it. For those of you know in the know (like I was before), the child basically has to run the entire service. They are responsible for reading the scrolls in the Jewish language, making sure to include all aspects of the service, and to also give a sermon. It's A LOT.

It was a blast to be a part of the bar mitzvah this past weekend. I'd be more than happy to photograph another one given the chance. It's a precious day that needs to be captured in still images. Sign me up!