My name is Steve Levine, owner of Stellar Images Photography, and I congratulate you and your family on your upcoming Mitzvah!
I have been there as a parent myself, with all three of my boys, and I know just what you’re going through.
If you are both excited and nervous, as you plan for your child’s Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah, you are not alone. Gone are the simple days, when I had my Bar Mitzvah. Suddenly, it is about custom Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah invitations, hiring the DJ, and of course coming up with a “Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah theme” for the event.
When looking for a quality Westboro Massachusetts Bar Mitzvah photographer or Bat Mitzvah photographer there are many criteria that might be helpful to take into account.
First and foremost, I really feel that when it comes to Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah photography in the Westboro, Massachusetts area, it helps to have
not only an experienced photographer, but someone who has actually been there themselves I don’t just mean at my own Bar Mitzvah, which I barely remember, but at the countless others that I have been to, as both a photographer and a guest, and of course the Bar Mitzvah’s of my three boys Daniel, Sam and Jesse. Yes, I’ve paid for three Bar Mitzvah’s myself, for which I’m sure Cyprian Keyes Golf Club is very thankful.
Speaking of paying, costs seem to have gotten out of control. I can recall that after my oldest sons Bar Mitzvah, I made the mistake of looking at some of the bills, and I almost went into shock! For Jesse and Sam’s Bar Mitzvah, my wife was in charge, and we adopted a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. In the case of many of the vendors, I at least felt that I got my money’s worth, but I have to say, the last Massachusetts based Bar Mitzvah photographer we hired a few years ago was a bit brash, not to mention overpriced…on top of which I think my child was 16 before we ever saw the Bar Mitzvah album! She had her money up front, and after that, I really felt we were totally forgotten.
When I founded Stellar Images a few years ago, after being a serious amateur photographer for 20+ years, I set off right from the start to create a completely different experience. I took what I had learned from some of the great photographers I knew, and actually made special note about the mistakes I saw from other photographers, so I could learn from them as well. In the end, I can bring to the table all of the things you need to make your day as affordable, and stress-free as possible.
Here are a few things you should look at, when selecting a B’nai Mitzvah photographer in Massachusetts.
Experience – not just as a photographer, which you assume is a given, but actually as a Bar Mitzvah boy, Bar Mitzvah guest, and Bar Mitzvah parent as well. I don’t need to be told how the service is going to go, because I’ve been there. I understand what photos we need to make sure we get, such as the proud grand-parents doing the motzie, and I also respect the rules set in place by the locations, such as not shooting photographs during the service. I know that we will have very limited time before the guests arrive at shul to do photos up on the bima, passing the torah from one generation to another, taking photographs with the torah open to that days torah portion, the parents placing the tallit on their child for the first time, and the family and witnesses signing the Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah certificate.
Equipment – Knowing what to expect from the service and reception, also means that I’m prepared from an equipment standpoint. I know that I will need often need both my telephoto and wide angle lenses, at the same time, so I carry two cameras, one for close up, and one for wide angle. When you’re being hoisted up on a chair (I hated that part), I want to get a shot of the room full of guests, but then a shot of your face with my telephoto. I suppose if the guys drop you, I’ll get a shot of that as well! Of course, not only do two cameras allow flexibility of technique, but each provides redundancy in case of mechanical failure. I also have dual memory cards, in each camera, again to protect your photos in the event of card failure. I will be shooting most of the event with my Nikon D4, one of the top cameras in the world, so we should be safe, but I always have a back up plan.
Post processing and Turn Around Time – Usually within 24 hours of your event, I will download and do an initial screen on your images, selected the best 100-300 from the 500 that I may have taken, and do just a very quick retouch of them all. Those will be posted on a private site for you to view, and if you wish, I will also post a nice selection of 20-30 of them online for you to share immediately with friends and family on social media. There’s nothing better than having them back fast, and being able to tag all your relatives and friends before they forget how much fun they had.
Print Review – Once you have had a chance to look at the photographs, we will arrange to sit down at the studio and go over them all on a large monitor, so you can choose your favorites. I will then work on those, doing a far more thorough retouching, and create a second online album for you. These will be the images that you will ultimately choose for your prints.
Albums and Collages – If you would like an album done of your Bar Mitzvah photos, we have many options available from one of the top designers and professional studios in the world. Personally, I think the days of the bound leather album may be in the past, but we absolutely do offer them for you if you’d like one – if not for yourself, then for the grandparents. Nowadays, instead of leather albums, which you’ll rarely open again (because in a year your son or daughter will look NOTHING like they did in those photos), the movement is more towards ordering just a few really nice prints to hang on the wall, perhaps in a collage that we can do made up of multiple shots. I mean after all, do you really need a 16 x 20 of your child with the Torah? If you do, that’s absolutely not a problem, but many people are leaning more towards combining photographs in some fashion or another. We do all of that work in-house, which means quick turnaround, of course.
Digital Media – More common than albums these days is a move towards digital media – and a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah DVD. We have the ability to take your favorite photographs, and create an amazing DVD, with your choice of music, that you can share with friends and family all over the world. Often, we can start it with baby pictures of your child, and a special song…and then morph into the service and reception photos. In the end, those are really amazing to see, and people get so much more use out of them, than they might from a more traditional approach. I have those for my kids, and actually will look at them from time to time, as opposed to the albums.
Ordering Prints – One of the challenges we ran into with one photographer, was that even though we paid thousands of dollars for the shoot itself, I felt that we were being seriously overcharged for prints. I understand that everyone needs to make a living. I’m not working for free, and I don’t expect anyone else to do so, but $100 for an 8 x 10 photo seemed a bit steep to me. Instead, I pride myself on providing you with quality prints, on multiple media, from paper to canvas, to the new aluminum stock (which is gorgeous) all at a far more affordable price. Our prints start at under $20, on some of the highest quality stock available while still offering 24 hour turnaround, and free shipping.
Affordability – Our standard Westborough Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah Photography package is $1200, which will include up to six hours of shooting, both at the synagogue, and receptions. If we feel an assistant is needed for the event that will be at our cost, not yours. I like to keep things free of surprises, as I’m sure you do as well, so this includes everything…from driving time (within 45 minutes of our studio), all retouching services, and up to two personal 1 hour meetings for print review and selection. The only thing not included is the Massachusetts sales tax. In addition, should you wish to order any collages of prints, we will prepare up to three of those for you as well, all at no additional charge. The only other things you will see any bill for at all, would be any prints, albums, or DVD’s that you choose…and even those will be priced well below what you may see from out competitors. Why, you might ask? Well, perhaps if you feel like you were treated well, and not ripped off, you’ll send a few referrals my way down the road. Those are so much easier that you can’t imagine, because the level of trust is already there.
Personal Attention – Have you ever hired anyone you thought was amazing, and then had them send a member of their ‘team.” That doesn’t happen here at Stellar Images. It’s the personal attention to detail that I promise, and I can only deliver that by being there myself, where my 20+ years of experience can be put into play.
For that reason, my own sanity, and of course wanting to spend time with my amazing kids, I will only book ONE Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah event each weekend. This is not a production factory…but something which I consider an art. For that reason, it is best to book as soon as you know your date. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime, and I can check to see if a particular day is available. If it is, we can chat about any questions you might have, and generate a contract for your signature. It’s important to note that your date is not “reserved” until we receive the paperwork and deposit back, so quick turn around is always a great thing.
On that note…I once again want to wish you nothing but joy and happiness for your Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah. If there’s anything that you need, just ask. I know many great people (again having been there) and can probably give you recommendations for everything from nice venues, to invitations, tallit shopping, and even my favorite DJ. Whatever I can do to help, I’m here for you.
Stellar Images Photography