When preparing to photograph an event in Israel, I often don’t have much choice about the location of the photo session.
Additionally, Israel event photography is fraught with challenges created by Jewish laws and customs that directly conflict with the photographer’s ability to succeed. The best example of this is that many religiously-observant couples will not see each other prior to the actual marriage ceremony, which severely limits the time for photographing the all-important portraits of the newlyweds together.
I always consult with my clients and recommend the best options for time and location that work within the schedule of their celebration. Clients try to be helpful, too, frequently suggesting the park across the street or their beautiful backyard garden.
What they don’t understand is that although their garden is indeed lovely, the angle of the sun at the time of the photo session – and a hundred other issues – may render their garden an impossible milieu to make good photographs.
As an experienced Israel event photographer, I have learned how to surmount the challenges of shooting in these “imperfect” locations.
Not long ago I photographed a wedding in Israel in which the ceremony was held inside a large synagogue situated in a shabby, Jerusalem neighborhood. Although the building itself was in good condition, the bride had requested natural light portraits.
Once outside, we literally roamed the concrete jungle, trying to evade the barbed-wire security trimmings, broken glass on the sidewalk and numerous huge, green garbage dumpsters that Israelis derisively call frogs.
This is Israel event photography at its most challenging.
No bride who is already a bit nervous, who has spent months planning her party and hours getting ready wants to pose alongside the ubiquitous urban detritus that adorns many big-city streets.
With too little time to retreat to an alternate location, I desperately moved about looking for any spot that would complement her beauty. As I passed through an area where I stood facing the bright, setting sun, a light went on, literally.
Normally I would seek a way to block some of the harsh light shining directly into my lens, but on this occasion, the enormous spotlight aimed right at my camera obscured everything in its path and hid most of the ugly and unwanted waste.
Even amid the most difficult situations photographing an event in Israel, creative solutions emerge, often by just giving in and letting light and the environment speak for themselves.
I encountered similar circumstances to my bride dilemma in a field of amaranth plants that I stumbled upon beside a Eucalyptus grove near Rehovot one spring afternoon. Amid the towering, seedy stalks I discovered a lone flowering Holly Hock.
In this kind of blinding light, it helped to have had some previous experience – in order to compose and focus with limited vision – and a lot of confidence that your skill will join hands with lady luck to yield your next great shot.
Israel event photography, much like capturing the splendor of the natural world, often requires small miracles to solve a problem. Fortunately, the Jewish people have a long history of miracles and photographers have faith their cameras can perform them as well.