Alan Works As Second Shooter at a Bar Mitzvah

My friend and fellow photographer, Steven Rosen, asked me to serve as second shooter at a bar mitzvah. A second shooter not only assists the photographer during the formal portraits, but also works to get images that complement the primary photographer’s main coverage. For instance, while Steven photographed break dancers entertaining the children, I was able to photograph the crowd’s reactions. Having a second shooter at the bar mitzvah was necessary for two reasons: 1) with about 140 guests, Steven wanted to be sure there were photos of everyone at the celebration, and 2) the reception took place on two levels, with the adults upstairs and the children downstairs.

The ceremony was held at a synagogue in Brooklyn that was flooded with natural light. Photography was not permitted in the sanctuary during the service, but we were able to make formal portraits of family groups beforehand, and the rabbi and the bar mitzvah boy staged moments from the upcoming ceremony for Steven to shoot. I helped cover the guests’ arrival before the ceremony and the blessing of the wine and challah afterwards.

The reception was not far away, but two yellow school buses were chartered to transport the guests. Steven and I got on separate buses to document the ride. It was tough walking up and down the aisle of a moving school bus snapping photos. The driver didn’t mind that I used flash, and the combination of daylight through the windows and flash bounced of the metallic white ceiling made for an almost studio-like setting.

The reception venue turned out to be the greatest challenge of the day. Deity is a nightclub and event space in a former synagogue on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. It’s got a beautiful atmosphere, but the walls and ceilings are all black and the lighting is extremely dim. Perfect for elegant parties but challenging for photography, it was quite a contrast to the beautiful, sunny weather outdoors. With no light-colored surfaces to bounce our strobes off, we each chose our preferred flash modifier. Steven used his Gary Fong LightSphere, and I strapped on my Rogue FlashBender. Our equipment, combined with high ISO, slow shutter speeds, and steady hand-holding of our cameras helped to document a great celebration in this family’s life.

Steven prepared a slideshow of his images and mine that really captures the spirit of the day. I think our photos go together nicely, and I expect the family and guests will be pleased. Click here to see it. I hope to turn the tables some day and have the pleasure of Steven second shooting at an event that I’m covering.

For more information on second shooting, read this great article from the Wedding Photojournalist Association.


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