I was honored to photograph Isabelle's Bat Mitzvah in July of this year. As I'm sure you could guess, this is not what it was supposed to look like or when it was even originally going to happen. Her mom and I met up late last year to make plans for me to be the event photographer at this most important of occasions. The original date had been for the end of March but, well...you probably can figure out the rest. About 2 weeks before the bat mitzvah was to take place, our state shut down and the event was indefinitely postponed. For awhile, we didn't think it was going to happen at all and, if it did, it would be 100% virtual. However, a new date was set for mid-July and the plans started to come together. The event would be mostly virtual with only immediate family and Isabelle's best friend attending with her mom.
Before we got started, family photos happened outside, behind the Temple in a sweet little garden area. We made it quick as this day was not a toasty one!
We had a few minutes inside, after pictures, before everything got underway.
There were only 13 of us inside the synagogue in total, including the staff. Temperatures were taken upon entering, a health questionnaire was filled out (with all the same questions we've all been asked by this point) and hand sanitizer was used before moving further inside. Masks were worn by all of us at all times, with the exception of the family photos outside prior to the ceremony. Our backs were to the Sanctuary itself, with chairs spread out from one another, grouped together in family pods. Four seats together, three seats together and two seats together. I kept my distance, moving quietly around behind everyone, capturing the event unfolding in front of us. The bonus was I had this wonderfully backlit scene for the images, my favorite kind of lighting!
Anyone else who wanted to attend was able to be there via Zoom, with a big screen in the corner and several cameras set up to capture what was happening. I won't lie. I had just one brief moment where I had a moment of intense sadness during the ceremony. This wasn't how her bat mitzvah was supposed to look. Everyone was supposed to be IN the room with her, being witnesses to this beautiful event. But, I then marveled at the resilience of humans to be creative and figure out how to move forward with life, even in the face of substantial adversity. (it could certainly be argued that that is not a new theme, even though this is a new kind of adversity for all of us.) The Oak Park Temple did an outstanding job with the technology to ensure that anyone who wanted to watch, was able to do so.
Isbelle had worked so hard for this day and she did an absolutely beautiful job! Take a peek.
After that, there was a sweet garden party outside to celebrate Isabelle's success!
We finished up the day with a handful of images of the woman of honor!
Mazel Tov! It was an honor to be the one who captured your special day!
I look forward to seeing where life takes you, or rather, where you take life!