Jewish weddings are special and so is the photography! With a special pinch of customs and traditions, location and venue, Jewish weddings definitely have a lot to offer when it comes to candid photography.
Based on our experience in the field of photography and research, we portray a Jewish wedding as understood by us. There might be certain changes in the culture followed, but fundamental aspects of photography will remain the same. First things first, it is essential to know that, Jewish weddings in general are traditionally carried out as a hint of blessings bestowed upon by God to Abraham. The weather for the day is better checked for, and it is also important to ensure that you are properly equipped for the event.
The first time photographers shooting such orthodox weddings must know one general rule, never touch those of the other gender. While some orthodox weddings might not be as cultural as others, it is only safe not to make any physical contact with any other person of the other gender in the weddings. This also means no shaking hands too. If you need to know about it, you must best ask your client about it and just observe how others are behaving.
Jewish Wedding Rituals and Photography Opportunities
Besides, the photographer must exactly know the steps of the wedding and its rituals. The Jewish wedding is classified into five portions:
- Portrait sessions before reception
- The reception
- After chuppah
- Dinner and dancing.
1) Portrait Sessions before the Reception
Actually, I begin a couple of hours before the reception. Initially I capture the photographs of the bride and her close relatives for over an hour. Later I get quickly done with the groom and his people. This is commonly done in the hall, though at times the photographs would be clicked either in the bride’s home or at a close by park.
2) The Reception
The main wedding starts when the bride is escorted to her seat by her mother and mother in law. The groom will be sent to a different location. Compulsory shots comprise the bride entering into the reception with her mother, friends and family. Photos with family members around the bride’s seat, men signing on marriage related documents and reading them out. Once the final marriage document is signed, the groom and the men go to the bride and will cover a veil over the face of the bride. The blessing of the fathers, the procession of the bride must also be followed.
3) The Chuppah
The groom is sent to a personal room where he wears a kittle which is a white garment. The fathers bestow upon him their blessings. All these must be compulsorily captured. The groom is later sent to the chuppah just by the fathers or his parents. The bride gets escorted too. The procession is commonly carried in the presence of grandparents and siblings. There are seldom any bridesmaids or grooms men.
Over fifteen people will be honored during the service, all of those who should be photographed. The photographer just stands under the chuppah with all others. The wedding is not a scripted show where everything is orchestrated for people to witness. Hence, candid photographs do great.
4) After the Chuppah
While photographing, which is commonly in the hall, the bride and the groom are clicked together. They are also clicked with their close relatives and extended members of the family. It takes usually an hour for this session. Since there are a lot of groups, sometimes we even might have to capture 100 groups.
Sometimes, I’ve asked the couple if they would touch each other for the photos. At times, very impressive portraits are captured and sometimes the ones like American Gothic.
5) Dinner and Dancing
During the dance sessions, men are to one side of the bisected room and women will be on the other. I usually stand at the divider and from this position; capture both the circles of dancing. The bride and groom dance in the center of the respective rings. Some of the most important photographs are the parents dancing with the bride and the groom, siblings and best friends.
Once dance is over, groom and the bride wash hands to make a blessing over the bread. These Photos are compulsory.
Apart from these, you need to have compulsory shots of farewell too. Focus on some natural shorts. Have perfect combination of color and lights – and here you go!