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(Ultra) Orthodox Jewish Wedding Market.

Ben Rubinstein

pro member
Is anyone here shooting for the Ultra Orthodox ('frum'/'chareidi'/'chassidic') wedding market here? It is my primary market and I would be interested in getting together photographers shooting this market to discuss the changing styles prevelant at present as the super formal + documentary that is still pretty firmly entrenched starts to slowly open up to a more reportage style of coverage and more importantly storybook albums.

As this market is so very varied depending on the different groups, level of orthodoxy, location, country, etc, it would be interesting to swop notes, share tips, etc. For example I shot two weddings one Wednesday that was a normal 'black hat' wedding, nothing posh through to the wedding I shot on Thursday that was Satmar Chassidic with the entire UK division of Neturei Karta present (the grandfather is one of the biggest NK fanatics in the UK/world).

An interesting development which has filtered through from Israel where it is now the norm, is the requirement for a female photographer to photograph the womens side of the partition during the meal and dancing or even for the whole wedding. I've noticed here in the UK that I'm asked for a female photographer in 1 out of 2 weddings I do though people don't seem to grasp the concept of how much more it will cost, they seem to assume that it should be included in the price (you must be joking!). Their has been an announcement in the Hamodia (Jewish weekly paper) from a group of Rabbi's in London banning a male photographer from appearing on the womens side of the partition. How this is going to effect my business I'm not as yet sure but I'm having to give it serious consideration.

Anyway that was just by way of being an opener, I would love to hear from other photographers working this market, love to hear how you are moving away from posed studio lit portraits to more natural outdoors work keeping in mind that many couples will not touch for photos, etc, how you are trying to convey the idea of the bride+groom with weddings where little if no emotion is show between the two openly and anything else that comes to mind.

Beni
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Ben, no different than any job,

A priest can tell you you cant photograph or use flash in his chapel or whatever. Part of the pre-event prep, like where are the power plugs and who will have the list of key people and bring me to them or vica versa.

(for those who have not photographed an orthodox or Haredi wedding) The merriment may be much more than you imagine. The men might do Russian dances that were not in Fiddler on the roof. The women too. some will allow the same photographer. don't touch thec women or handle the clothes.

Ask what their rules and customs are. You'll soon get the hang of it. you will need a friendly intermediate (even one man and one woman) to make sure that you know when key events, lke the bride circling the groom, the various blessings and (don't miss thiss), the breaking of the glass. The latter will result in a lot of "Mazeltov" reactions from the congegation, men in the center, women behind a separation of see through curtain.

Qlso the signing of the ketubah (the loving document memorializing the promises and expectations) is very important. If you don't know it, this could happen in another room, they might think you already know and you would miss it.

They are really in a great joyous mood, making sure all the right things are done, and you will have to keep up!

That's a start!

Asher

(I just inserted text in parenthesis as explanation)
 
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Ben Rubinstein

pro member
Asher, I've been shooting these weddings for over 5 years, got plenty experience under my belt from modern orthodox throught to chassidim and everything in between working on around 35 weddings a year at present. When I managed a photo lab in Israel I processed several weddings a week hence my experience with the strange market over there prior to setting up my wedding business here in the UK.

There have been many hurdles and most of them I've had to invent ways over, just interested in what others are doing in this market, how they've overcome the problems etc.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Ben Rubinstein said:
Asher, I've been shooting these weddings for over 5 years, got plenty experience under my belt from modern orthodox throught to chassidim and everything in between working on around 35 weddings a year at present. When I managed a photo lab in Israel I processed several weddings a week hence my experience with the strange market over there prior to setting up my wedding business here in the UK.

There have been many hurdles and most of them I've had to invent ways over, just interested in what others are doing in this market, how they've overcome the problems etc.
I get it now!

I should read posts, especially such good one's, more carefully!

Yes, ideas do evolve! Trouble is there's no predictability. If some guest is coming is a little bit more charedi, then things may be more strict. Some people collect books, some camera, these guys collect customs to observe!

I'm going to such a wedding shortly and I'm sure they'll be two photographers!

I wonder, does this segment buy books like Graphisoft or Asuka or do they want good old silver halide prints glued in an album?

Asher
 
I can add to your sampling

My wife's family includes several flavors of Jewish practice, and has produced enough Bar Mitzvahs, Bat Mitzvahs and weddings by now so that I have some experience in the ultra-orthodox component, which is growing exponentially and generates a wedding and one or more brits annually. These are originally Hozrim B'tschuva, and you can look at one example at http://www.pbase.com/skirkp/wedding to further determine their position in the spectrum. The ketuba discussion seems to take place in public (unlike more secular weddings) and that's just concluding in picture 1 of my little gallery. The male photographer is able to go to the women's side for the setup pictures (at that point the groom comes along for some of the pictures, with lighting and fancy background). Later in the evening I believe the photographer is a woman, as men only enter the edge of the womens' festivities to borrow cigarettes, or retrieve a lost child, or signal departure time. Although family are not supposed to photograph, my wife and I have been able to take both stills and video without offending anyone.

The trend in these things, even among the merely observant, not ultra-orthodox, is toward more complicated rules. I think you need to hire a woman assistant. The dancing is certainly just as enthusiastic on their side, and it is different.

scott
 
Asher Kelman said:
I get it now!

I wonder, does this segment buy books like Graphisoft or Asuka or do they want good old silver halide prints glued in an album?

Asher
Books are books, and it's the color in the pictures that catches peoples' eyes. Digital seems to be perfectly acceptable. Given the look of the library in a Haredi home, leather albums with silver or gold lettering fit right in. Really the only difference is the complicated rules for the reception after the ceremony. The last picture in my gallery shows one couple's album (one of several) being viewed at his parents' house. The picture before that, I just noticed, shows a woman photographer standing on a chair to catch the dancing on the women's side of the party (while several secular males look on with interest).

scott

scott
 
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Ben Rubinstein

pro member
I'm trying to use an asuka stye book, the 'Illuma' memory book as a proof book, at present I have some issues with the print quality but assuming they get sorted out I would like to make them as standard for all my weddings. My sector of the market are used to getting and keeping the proofs with relatively few album or serious enlargement orders. I'm trying to sell the idea through this book of a 'real' equivelent such as that offered by zookbinders or leather craftsmen, and using templates for the proof book - suggest the idea of storybook. As opposed to loose proofs, a book like this has to go with the couple, there is no sharing out pictures, hence more print orders, etc.

The old fashioned style album is on the way out period. As I introduce more and more PJ style the more the brides like it, they see the over posed photos of their older siblings and like the fact that my photos are more natural. Of course you cannot do real PJ with these couples, the emotion and closeness just isn't there during the course of the day, but using outdoor lighting, slight tilts, having them look at each other (even during individual portraits) brings out a far more natural feel to the photos which I find is going over well. Again this depends on the clientele, with chassidic couples you can forget it, they both expect and want posed and studio lit formals, but it's getting there...

 
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Jack Hartzman

New member
Between Asher, Ben and now Scott, who I note is logging in from The Holy Land, I hope I can still chime in. I agree with all 3 of you to a certain extent - in many ways, a "frum" wedding with a tough Rabbi is no different than a Catholic wedding with a tough Priest. That said, I have shot many Orthodox weddings and Mitzvah's here (USA) and in Israel. I find that having a very talented female partner (who is an accomplished photographer as well) does help "out of the shoot" with the "female" side of religious affairs. However, I do work wth a religious photographer (Modern Orthodox, but conservitive in practice) who has no issues w/ shooting on the women's side.
Though not Frum, I happen to still have the link to a wedding I shot a few years ago on Masada in Israel. http://www.mhconcepts.com/4photogra...y/social/soc_images/weddings/Bruce/Bruce.html

Take a peek and see what you think.

Back to Ben's first ?, I think opening a discussion about ANY wedding issue that we ALL have to deal with whether it's Orthodox practices or getting food for the photographer is worth all of our time.

Keep it coming.

JACK
 

Ben Rubinstein

pro member
Sorry Jack, are you saying that I shouldn't have asked such a specific question? Apologies if so, just thought that given that it is such a large market it would be relevant.

I would love a talented female photographer to work alongside me as a second shooter, it would solve many time and place problems, problem is there is no one competent enough near me, nor anyone who would share my vision of a wedding. It makes it difficult when they tell me I'm not allowed to shoot on the womens side but I still have to fill an interesting album with the required number of proofs!
 

Jack Hartzman

New member
No. My bad if you did not understand. YES, this is a good subject to discuss. As a person who has dealt with the same issue, I have always gone to the client and asked, "Are you sure I can't shoot on the women's side?" If the answer is yes, then ask them to sign a release for you so that they do not come back to you not liking the album. Further, ask if you can shoot OVER the Machitza? You'll be staying on the mens side, but able to see the women. What do you do when the Bride and Groom get together for a dance or at least sit next to each other? Either way, for the $350 USD flight, borrow my partner Monica. She loves to travel is would love to go back to England. We stopped there last year for a day on the way to Israel. Cheers.

JACK
 

Elisabeth Snel

New member
Scott - My partner and I are getting ready to shoot our first Bar Mitzvah. . . do you have a link to one you've done that we could look at? Any tips?

Thanks - Elisabeth
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Hi Elizabeth,

Maybe we should write a series of articles on religious events so that people could follow them.

I'll start with a barmitzva! Why don't you pm me and I'll get you a skeleton plan and then flush it out.

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I rediscovered this thread.

Anyone else has insight into the needs, wishes and customs of very religious folk?

Asher
 
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