Kristin Chalmers Photography » the blog of Kristin Chalmers Photography

Coming of Age – Izzy’s Boston Bat Mitzvah at The Vilna Shul

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On September 13, 2014, I had the opportunity to capture Izzy as she celebrated her Boston Bat Mizvah at The Vilna Shul, followed by a reception at the Cure Lounge. Izzy celebrated with her family: Mom Dana, Dad Eric, and brother Ethan.

I have been considering photographing bat and bar mitzvahs for some time now, but the challenge was convincing parents to trust me and let me change how it’s done. All the Mitzvahs that I have come across are very formulaic. There is very little story involved. I wanted to do it differently.

A bar or bat mitzvah is a very important part of a Jewish family’s life. It’s the story of a young girl or boy becoming a man or woman in the eyes of the Jewish faith. Reaching the age of bar or bat mitzvah signifies becoming a full-fledged member of the Jewish community—with the responsibilities that come with it. These include moral responsibility for their own actions and eligibility to be called to read from the Torah and lead or participate in a minyan.

There is a story behind this child’s life and the relationship between the young teen and their family. I want to start telling that story with very little set up. Sometimes temples will not allow you to photograph the actual service, but I was lucky enough to be able to photograph Izzy for most of her service, which really allowed me to document every part of her day.

I started out photographing Izzy and her family getting ready at the Revere Boston Hotel, and then Izzy and I headed down to the hotel lobby to take some formal photos of her before we all headed over to the temple. The actual temple was beautiful and filled with natural light. The Vilna Shul one of the oldest temples on the east coast, and it was an honor to be able to photograph Izzy there. She was surrounded by friends and family, and there wasn’t a free seat in the congregation. After the service, I jumped on a trolley with about 65 12- and 13-year-olds, and we headed off to Cure Lounge for dancing and celebration. My second shooter, Wayne Chinnock, was already shooting all the details when I arrived. And what great details—a candy bar, light up phrases, and so many things perfect for Izzy.

After that, we basically spent the reception just capturing Izzy and her bff’s partying the night away. I have shot many horas at weddings, but capturing a child doing a hora is an altogether different experience. So much joy and laughter throughout the whole event! Angel Torres for Total Entertainment did a great job keeping the party going!

I would love to thank Izzy’s parents, Dana and Eric, for trusting me and letting me tell Izzy’s story through my own eyes instead of a formulaic style of the typical mitzvah. And Izzy, you are the best of the best! It was so fun to hang out for a whole day and night with you and your friends. God . . . I love tweens.

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[…] and told her mother and sister, Kendall, about me, and I had just happened to post my blog about Izzy’s Bat Mitzvah. Kendall told her mother, “I want my photos to look like that,” and just like that, I became […]

[…] yet, but I bet you I could rock the hell out of one,” I responded. Mind you, this was before my first one for Izzy, but it was Alyson who put the bug in my ear first, so thanks, […]

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