Mitzvah Photography Tips

Here are some guidelines to help the photography process be a success! 

Health and Safety:

Please note that I follow all Temple and venue policies regarding COVID-19 health and safety policies. I am a guest in these spaces and will not break any rules. Most Temples that require masks will allow you to remove them briefly for pictures.  If this is the case, I recommend wearing masks that are easy to take on and off and that do not leave marks on your face. In any setting that masks are not required, but you would prefer that I wear one, I am happy to do so.  

It is the client's responsibility to keep me updated on Temple and venue policies, as they can change rapidly. 

Untitled photo

What to expect:

Typically the Shul/formal photos will last a full hour. Make sure your child is aware of this, along with what will be expected of them. If they are the oldest, they might not realize just how many photos will be taken, and they are going to be in almost all of them. It can be helpful to browse through photos on my website so they can visualize what the photo session will be like. 

It is a long day for your family, especially if the photos are being done immediately before the service. We will want to plan enough time so that your family can take a quick breather before the service begins. 

During our final sit-down (typically taking place 3-4 weeks before your event) we will discuss everything at length and I will put together a detailed outline for you.


It is very important to note that you should arrive at the Temple prior to our "start time" so that you can bring everything inside and be ready to start taking pictures on schedule. 

In general, a half-hour will be spent taking formal photos inside the Sanctuary (or wherever the service it taking place) and the other half-hour will consist of more casual family photos.

Please reach out to your Temple to find out the times we will be allowed to have access to the Torah. Most Temples require the Rabbi or other Temple representative to be present when the Torah is taken out. We have a lot of photos to get through in only an hour, so we want to make sure the Torah photos happen on schedule. Once I have this information, we will discuss the order and timeline for the photos. 

It is very important that you let everyone know where to meet and when!!

Untitled photo

Untitled photo

Who to include:

I recommend that only your immediate family and grandparents participate in the formal photos with the Torah (along with the Rabbi, tutor, or cantor, if they plan to do so). Other family members, such as aunts, uncles, and cousins, can be included in the more casual shots. We will discuss all the participants for the photos and come up with a detailed timeline and shot list during our final sit-down

Once again, it is very important that you let everyone know where to meet and when!!

Looking your best:

Hair should neat and combed or styled. If it isn't professionally done, please make sure long hair is well sprayed to avoid flyaways.  Avoid wearing hairbands on your wrists.

Make sure retainers and Invisalign are removed prior to starting the pictures and spit out gum ahead of time. 

If we take photos outdoors, transition/darkening eyeglasses will look like sunglasses. Please find an alternate pair to wear,  or do not wear glasses in the outdoor photos.  

Some shots will include close ups of your child's hands, so please make sure nails are neat and trimmed, or manicured.

All genders can benefit from a little concealer over any blemishes or breakouts - it's not just for girls!! 

Untitled photo

Untitled photo

Hair and Makeup:

Having hair and makeup professionally done creates a polished look for your pictures. It's important to find a professional who is experienced with young teens, so that the makeup isn't overdone. I highly recommend Michelle Sands of Traveling Beauty. She provides the perfect balance.  (She's also fantastic for adults!)

Regardless of who you choose, make sure to schedule a consultation with your hair and makeup artist beforehand make sure you get the exact look you want.

If you opt to do your own hair and makeup, please practice in advance and use a setting spray and extra hair spray. Again all genders can benefit from a little concealer over any blemishes or breakouts - it's not just for girls!! 


It is very important that all clothing is fitted properly. Please make sure to try on everything in advance and with enough time to make any necessary alterations.

Dresses should be fitted properly and tight enough so that straps and undergarments do not show around the arms (placing hands on the hips is the best way to test this). Please make sure you find the proper bra or cami to aid in this. And please be sure to also check the back of the dress to make sure nothing is showing.

For suits, jackets should be well fitted and not too loose and bulky. Make sure the jacket vents are not sewn together, and remove any tags or markings affixed to the jacket sleeves. The shirt under the jacket should be on the tighter side to avoid wrinkles, and the sleeves should extend approximately 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch beyond the jacket sleeves. The bottom of the tie should reach the middle of the waistband or belt . 

Some photos will go all the way down to your feet, so don't forget to keep your footwear in mind! 

Untitled photo

Untitled photo


The  wearing of a Tallit is a very special part of the day, so we want it looking prefect in the photos!  Please steam your child's Tallit in advance to remove any of the fold lines or wrinkles. You can have it professionally steamed at a dry cleaner or use an at-home steamer. Once it's been steamed, please do not put it back in the Tallit bag; keep it on a hanger, including when transporting it to the Temple. 

Many families also plan a special photo of someone gifting or putting on the Tallit. This is most often the parent(s) or grandparent(s) that purchased it. In our final sit-down we will discuss who is going to be involved in this picture. 

What to bring:

Please remember to bring all religious items that you would like to include in pictures, such as the tallit, tallit bag, yad, wimpel, Kiddush cup, yarmulke, etc. This is especially important to remember if we are doing the photos on a different day than the actual service.

Non-religious items you should also bring include a copy of the invitation and the Mitzvah project poster.

Some kids also like to include items that showcase their personalities in a few photos, such as a basketball, musical instrument, dance shoes, etc. 

Finally, I highly recommend bringing some light snacks (crackers, fruit, granola bar) and bottled waters so that you can all "recharge" before the service begins. 

Untitled photo

Untitled photo

Special considerations:

I want this to be a special and positive experience for your child.  As the mother of two children with special needs, I am happy to make any accommodations to help this happen. Although I certainly respect one's privacy, it is helpful to me if we can discuss any special considerations, such as learning disabilities, anxiety, and physical limitations. We can come up with a plan to help make the photos successful and as stress-free as possible. It is often helpful for us to meet ahead of time so that I can get to know your child and they can be more comfortable around me. 

I am also happy to make any additional accommodations for other family members, we will discuss this during our final sit-down. 

Pre-party shots:

If there's time in between the service and your party, you can opt to arrive at the party venue early for some pre-shots. These can include just your immediate family, or extended family as well.  We can discuss the amount of time needed, based on who is going to be involved. 

Pre-party shots are a great way to showcase your child with their party décor, and new outfits (if they've changed from their service attire) . 

These photos must be finished at least 20 minutes prior to the start of your party so that I can get photos of the empty room and décor before the guests arrive. 

Untitled photo

Untitled photo

Party time!

Now it's time to cut loose and have fun! I'll be there to capture all the candid moments throughout the party, but we can also discuss any posed shots you would like me to arrange. I do recommend keeping requests  involving your child to a minimum so as not to disrupt them  from their celebration. A candle lighting ceremony is a great way to get their picture with all the important people!

It comes as no surprise that the key to a great party is a great MC (and Party Excitement Entertainment is the best there is).  Please share with me the detailed party timeline that you work out with your MC or party planner as soon as you have it available.

Finally, I can't stress enough the positive impact up-lighting will have on your pictures - it adds such a vibrancy and party atmosphere!! If you're on the fence about up-lighting I highly recommend that you go for it!

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In