Mitzvah Tips and Tricks

A collection of observations on all things mitzvah from the vantage point of a photographer.


In no particular order…


1 – Get permission to take the Torah out prior to the photography and who can take it out.

2 – Find out what time someone will be there to open the doors in the AM if you’re planning pre-service photography.

3 – If you’d like photos with the rabbi or cantor, please let them know prior to the day of.

4 – Know who in your family runs late and plan accordingly. There is usually a hard stop 15 mins before the service begins. Please allow time for your guests to freshen up if needed. If photography starts at 9am, please tell your family to arrive at 8:45am.

5 – If possible, keep the temple photography limited to immediate family + grandparents or book more time to photograph everyone. Ask the photographer about staggering in times.

6 – On average, it takes about 2-3 mines per family group for temple photography. On average.

7 – Please inform you photographer of any family dynamics/conditions that would affect their ability to photograph your event. This is not limited to divorces or family fall outs, but also includes mobility issues, medical issues. We don’t need details, but it would be VERY helpful to know if there are individuals that either can’t be in the same image with each other or have challenges understanding or following directions.

8 – If the temple has any photography rules – please tell the photographer at the time of booking or at least a few weeks prior to the date. This includes insurance requirements.

9 – Eyeballs. Family members love and are VERY welcome to take photos of the posed people. But please allow the photographer to go first and keep all other cameras/phones down until they are done. This is so that all the eyeballs are looking all in the same direction.

10 – Spray tans and tongues pushed up behind teeth. The spray tans will come out orange. Your tongue will squeeze out around your teeth like bubblegum. Both are not advised.



1 – Bat mitzvahs: Strapless dresses – please make sure they are fitted properly by a seamstress and have the girl run/jump in it prior to make sure it stays up or add straps. Too many shots end up deleted due to the bat mitzvah pulling up the bodice of her dress.

2 – Socks – have them. Even the boys wear them.

3 – Ear plugs – you can buy a jar of 100 for about $10 at CVS. Your older and very young guests may thank you for this small consideration.

4 – Motzi/Toast/Candlelighting #1 – placement – unless you love your DJ so much that you want his head in every image – consider asking the DJ to duck or move the motzi/toast/candle lighting table to another place in the room.

5 – Candlelighting #2 – tall candles/high table and and not so tall people. Consider who will be coming up to light candles.

6 – Candlelighting #3 – let the DJ/MC know to keep the people up at the candle lighting for a photo before returning to their seats.

7 – Centerpieces – low ones allow your guests to talk to all the people at their table.

8 – Table photos – pro: capture most of the guests at the party. Con: Annoys the guests/breaks the party for your guests. Dirty/used dishes on the table in the shots. Can take 10-15 mins per table. Can take nearly 2 hours away from the photographer capturing the fun of the party. And if you’re throwing a great party, no one would be sitting. Speak with your photographer, there are ways to manage this.

9 – ZAP/DJ photography. Your DJ may bring a photographer/you hired a ZAP photographer: 99.9% are great about working with the hired photographer. Please speak to the DJ to make sure they understand that you hired a photographer and that theirs should defer to yours – if that’s what you want – you’re paying! Many don’t even tell you and bring their own photographer and videographer for their own marketing purposes. See eyeball comment #10 under temple tips above. You don’t want everyone’s eyeballs are looking at different cameras.

10- Your photographer will need to eat/drink something. Not a full meal, but something. Please talk this over with the photographer and the catering manager.