Pandemic or not, kids are still going to turn 13, and in the Jewish tradition, that means boys are still turning into men. So, even though the original plan was that I would photograph this boy’s whole celebration, party and all, part of growing up means learning flexibility. After moving the date once in optimistic hopes that maybe, by winter, the pandemic would be over – he ended up doing a Zoom ceremony and then celebrating just with his family, in the comfort of his home. I still went to capture some socially-distant pictures of him dressed at the synagogue on a particularly breezy, chilly day; and then later on the day of his bar mitzvah at his home, where we lucked out with some warmer, sunnier weather. His family was super considerate about making sure to keep their distance or don their masks around me and had a great time having this opportunity to dress up and capture their son’s big milestone.
Category Archives: Special Events
I enjoy a good party, particularly if there is cake involved: birthday parties, showers, weddings, graduations, baby-namings, bar mitzvahs, holidays, and so forth. I tend to mingle with the guests with camera in hand, so please contact me to see if I would be a fit for your special event!
A Socially-Distant Bar Mitzvah
Certainly, these are unusual times. Most unusual, I received an inquiry for some socially-distance bar mitzvah photos—service rehearsal only, as hosting a party was out of the questions these days—and it turns out, the mother inquiring was someone I WENT TO CAMP WITH WHEN I WAS 13. We were in the same cabin for two years, and I remembered many details about her—that she had long dark brown hair, that she was into acting, and that she was funny. It was then quite fun to reconnect decades later, find out not much had changed, and meeting her own kids, one who was the same age as the last time I saw her.
In any case, her kid was a total trouper, going through his readings even with a mask on his face and adding Lysol wiping of the Torah to the sacred rituals. The synagogue had set up some super-duper web cams to capture all the events that were going on currently, since, despite a pandemic, milestones big and small were still happening. In honor of his bar mitzvah, he even carefully drew every single design, by hand, on the dozens of yarmulkes that were sent out to invited guests who watched by Zoom. According to his mom, he did wonderfully at his service, even if it was to a mostly empty sanctuary but a crowded Zoom room.
Cool Blue Bat Mitzvah!
December in the DC area is very fickle, and for this bat mitzvah, we happened to land on some of the colder days of the month, even though the girls were so good at pretending like it was a balmy tropical day in their sleeveless dresses (a lot of me calling out, “THINK FLORIDA! WE’RE STANDING ON A WARM BEACH! YOU’RE GETTING UNBELIEVABLY TAN!”) We shot photos during the bat mitzvah girl’s rehearsal and then a week later at her party celebrating the actual bat mitzvah at The Loft at 4935 in Bethesda. To keep with the winter theme, they chose shades of blue – in their dresses and at the party – and the guests had a blast with nonstop dancing, party games, food and a photo booth. Here are some pictures from that fun day!
Celebrating: Bookish Bat Mitzvah!
This December bat mitzvah at the Hilton Garden Inn in Rockville was one of the nicest ones I’ve been to: small, low-key, and with such understated elegance, as the photos will illustrate. The bat mitzvah girl loved reading, so the theme was books. It was a refreshing challenge to the guests who volunteered to help come up with the design for the decor – how does one make books seem fun and party-ish? Well, they pulled it off with the use of encyclopedias, paper flowers cut from texts, and bookmarks as name cards. I was allowed to subtly photograph the ceremony from the back and then capture the rest of the party, where kids ate Chinese food (brilliant choice) for lunch, and everyone played games, danced, took photo booth pictures, danced the Hora and watched a slideshow of her growing up. Here are some pictures from that lovely afternoon.
Snapshot: Hora under the stars!
I love that this bat mitzvah girl was trying to capture the hora from her point of view on her phone while hanging on for dear life. More coming from her bat mitzvah in early December!
Gala: The American Osteopathic Foundation
In late October, I was fortunate to photograph the 2019 American Osteopathic Foundation’s annual gala and awards ceremony at the Hilton-Inner Harbor in Baltimore. I wasn’t even sure what an osteopathic doctor did – and I learned a lot that evening. At the very least, they are a compassionate community of physicians who really love and believe in what they do, and it was a very thoughtful crowd of people who enjoyed being in each other’s company. Awards were given, standout doctors were recognized, scholarships were handed out, and a one million dollar check was emotionally accepted to provide future scholarships. Afterwards, the group capped off the evening with a candy bar, drinks, and dancing to a live band.
Renewing Vows: Nick + Amy
Weddings are beautiful—but marriage isn’t always so Pinterest-perfect. I have always wanted to take some very realistic shots of marriage, 10 years later, when everyone’s completely settled into a whole different life with kids, mortgages, financial obligations, career changes, messy houses, the mundaneness of the day-to-day. But 10 years is an excellent marker to step back, examine the original wedding vows, and see if they need some refinement or fit into your current life.
I had the opportunity to capture some wedding vow renewals of Nick and Amy—two people I’ve known them since they passed their five year anniversary, and now they’ve just surpassed 10 years. They decided to officially renew their vows and added a couple with their daughters. They chose a secluded woodsy spot on a beautiful fall day in Rock Creek Park, complete with a picnic and twirly dresses for the girls. As Amy put it, it was a second chance to do the wedding the way you really wanted to the first time around. Here are some shots from this lovely morning.
Soccer Bar Mitzvah!
What a day for this soccer boy – a whole ceremony in the morning and then a hopping party in the evening for his friends and family at the Bethesda Hyatt. It was themed with – of course, soccer balls – with non-stop games, dancing, and even a cartoonist, which I love because it was a nice departure from a photo booth and a nod to the days when I went to bar/ bat mitzvahs. Here are some shots from his rehearsal and then at his party afterwards!
Snapshot: A Soccer Bar Mitzvah
This bar mitzvah boy and his proud mama last week right after his rehearsal. More to come from this celebratory weekend!
Awards Ceremony: George Washington University
It is fascinating, intimidating and interesting to be surrounded by these awardees, all who are dedicated public servants and experts in their individual fields. Some snapshots from an awards ceremony I did earlier this summer, with keynote speaker and award recipient Elizabeth Dole.
Carley and her husband wanted to celebrate many things: their son’s and daughter-in-law’s recent marriage, the New Year, and all the great things coming their way. So as a thank-you for all the times their friends invited them to parties and other life celebrations, they decided to throw a party in return. But really, why should there be a reason for a party other than just because it’s a fun way to see their favorite people? I think more people should have celebrations—just because—and hire a photographer to document the whole event! Here are a few shots from that great evening of cocktails, dancing, food, family and friends.
Snapshot: Party Time!
Bat Mitzvah: Lisa’s & Avi’s daughter!
This girl is officially a bat mitzvah! And I’ve decided that bar/ bat mitzvahs are my new favorite event to photograph. First, it’s sweet and sentimental—I’ve seen this girl around since she was eight, and now she’s quite the young lady, and that growth is acknowledged nicely with a formal ceremony for which she prepared for months. She even wore her hair out of a ponytail—a rare sighting—and coupled with her mature conduct during the ceremony, she really shined. Since her ceremony wasn’t held in a synagogue, I was allowed to take a few shots, but out of respect for those who might be alarmed I didn’t shoot the entire ceremony. Second, bat/ bar mitzvah parties are SO MUCH FUN. I wish we had gotten one of these emcees and played games at our wedding. Plus, at this one, the grown-ups held their own on the dance floor, risking pulling muscles and backs trying to play Coke and Pepsi with the kids and more. Her party theme was Around the World, and I loved the mini-suitcases with the vintage postcards and symbolic items to represent each country. Here are some shots from that day!
Engaged: Josh and Alex!
Josh met the lovely, smart, down-to-earth Alex in New York and before you know it, they were galavanting the world together – something very important to them – traipsing through Myanmar and exotic locales. More recently, they experienced another exotic locale – Brooklyn – with me and my camera in hand. It required three of us to pull out Google Maps to figure out where we were going, being completely Manhattan-blooded, but it made for some fantastic vistas.
Josh and I have known each other for decades – literally, since we were in preschool, although I don’t really remember him from those days. We reconnected in junior high and became fast friends in high school. We both moved back to New York City after college, and then we both ended up in Los Angeles at the same time too, and spent many of our west coast days rollerblading on the beach and hiking. He officiated my wedding, and it only made sense that I shoot his engagement photos. Together, the three of us fought the onslaught of tourists on the Brooklyn bridge, explored Brooklyn Bridge Park, and ended up back in Manhattan at Central Park. Here are some of my favorites!
Bat Mitzvah: Sarah’s/ Adam’s daughter!
I met this girl when she was a year and a half, and now she’s 13! Yes, yikes! That went by fast. Through the years we lunched and played in the pool and now she is a well-spoken, intelligent, musically-inclined young lady embarking on her teen years and celebrating her bat mitzvah. Here she is during her rehearsal, and then at her party at Pinstripes in Rockville, where friends and family dined and bowled the night away.
Snapshot: Bat Mitzvah of Sarah/ Adam’s daughter
Look at how fast they grow up. This girl, or “woman” in the Jewish tradition, carefully practices her bat mitzvah readings as proud parents look on. More to come…
Cyndi recently reached a major milestone in her life, the “Halfway to 100!” birthday. And in honor of it, her husband set the bar very, very high for husbands worldwide – by throwing a tremendous party, complete with dinner, open bar, cake, and a band, at the eclectic Mansion on O St. Relatives and friends flew in from all over the country and huddled just beyond the entrance of the hotel to shout Surprise! as she entered. Not only that, her husband Ryan had arranged an entire fake surprise party the night before to throw her off. Cyndi, who I met through a mutual friend, is a fellow shutter bug who is usually the one behind the camera. She was thrilled to take the night off to eat, dance, catch up with old friends and family, and enter her 50s properly. Even though I spent most of the time capturing the fantastic event, both she and Ryan made me put my camera down and join the crowd as they danced the night away. As the night grew late, one guest even commented, “How do they have all this energy? I guess I need to be 50!” Congrats Cyndi, and here’s to another 50 years!
Snapshot: Cyndi’s 50th Surprise!
This is look of someone who just found out what her husband had been secretly engineering for the past six months in honor of her 50th birthday. More to come from this incredible surprise party for Cyndi’s birthday at the eclectic Mansion on O Street!
Married: Janice and Ben!
Janice and Ben have a lot going on recently! Janice recently graduated from training to become an acupuncturist. Then the two extraordinarily creative artists did EVERYTHING themselves for this wedding, from the twine-balloon globes to the lemon pies (well, this photographer and two others ended up helping the weary bride bake those). Lastly, they’re busy preparing for the arrival of a mini-Janice/Ben! Janice and Ben met while working at San Francisco’s hip clothier BetaBrand, where Janice was the first women’s line designer. The two modeled often for the company and recently appeared on a billboard as well. They share the same birthday, as well as so many other creative traits and qualities. Their wedding, up in wine country (Sebastapol, California) where they maintain a little country cottage, was “Mad Hatter”-themed and all the guests came donning hats in a blend between Kentucky Derby and Carnivale. Janice has been one of my closest friends since elementary school and I was very excited to be a part of her wedding and to take pictures of the memorable ceremony! Congrats you two (almost three)!
Snapshot: Janice and Ben—Married!
I love this picture because while both were very happy and exhausted on their thoroughly creative wedding day (I mean, Janice was still baking pies the night before), Ben was just elated with this perpetual smile on his face. More to come from this amazing wedding!
Friday Morning Music Club 130th Anniversary Concert
I was invited by the Friday Morning Music Club again to take pictures of their performance, but this time it was in honor of the club’s 130th anniversary! That’s a really long time. So I spent a Sunday afternoon at the Northern Virginia Community College performance hall capturing the Avanti orchestra, conducted by Pablo Saelzer. They first played Scheherazade suite by Rimsky-Korsakov and then were joined by the choir and winners of the Washington International Voice Competition who sang selections from Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus. The event was capped by a champagne-and-cake reception afterwards to mark the illustrious event.
The performance was also reviewed by the Washington Post, where one of my photos appeared! Yippee! Here are a few more from the concert!
The Avanti Orchestra
The Avanti Orchestra is the orchestra of the Friday Morning Music Club, “a community of music lovers and musicians,” which “has promoted classical music in the Washington area for over 125 years.” It’s a volunteer group of experienced classical musicians who gather, play music, and perform for the greater Washington audience. The orchestra is led by Pablo Saelzer, a conductor who hails from Chile and teaches at Montgomery College. I was recently invited to photograph the orchestra as they performed at the Kennedy Center, featuring Washington International Competition winner, violist Deng Yifei of China. As a classically trained pianist and flutist, I was excited to be back on stage with other musicians, even though this time I was playing the part of the principal photographer.
Conductor Pablo Saelzer with Washington International Competition winner and violist Deng Yifei of China.
Married: Lexi and Gregg!
In Chicago this August, my little sister-in-law, Lexi, married Gregg, a hilarious, movie-quoting lawyer who showed us numerous videos on YouTube of people trying to swallow spoonfuls of cinnamon (which cannot be done). We liked him immediately. Since I was honored with the position of bridesmaid, I didn’t get to take any pictures of the wedding itself, but was asked to take some of the pre-wedding preparation in the bridal suite and groom’s room. The bridal suite had couches, a patio, bagel tray, mimosas and bridesmaids in matching robes painting their nails and having their hair and makeup done. The groom’s room was a standard hotel room with bottles of whiskey and the groomsmen still lying in bed in their underwear filling out a football pool 15 minutes before they were due for photos. I finally got around to putting these pics on the blog. Congrats you two!
Engaged: Emily and Dave!
Emily and Dave met at Second City in Chicago, and were later engaged at Second City, which is very appropriate because Dave is a funny guy, and Emily has the biggest smile, so the two of them together just perpetuate infectious happiness. I first met them when I was photographing Dave’s brother’s wedding, when he and Emily coordinated some dance moves in such a way that you figured they often spontaneously burst into dance routines at home. Emily is very urban-chic and picked out many of the spots where we took their engagement pictures, all along Chicago’s Belmont Harbor and the green space surrounding it. Their puppy Calvin makes a few cameos as well. Congratulations you guys!