Michael Swinkin Photography

What to Ask Before Booking a Bar Mitzvah Photographer

Planning a bar mitzvah is a big deal. There are so many moving parts and different vendors to juggle. Choosing a photographer is one of them. While it may be tempting to simply skim a portfolio or two of a photographer that matches your budget, I’d highly encourage you to poke around and dig a little deeper to find a photographer who will be able to meet your expectations.

To help you out, here are eight questions you can ask any potential photographer to assess if they’re a good fit for your Simcha. While they won’t necessarily help you determine if the photo quality is the best (because that is something you can decide on your own), these questions will help you gauge their experience and approach, ensuring that you’re both on the same page and that there won’t be any unexpected hiccups.

Do you offer pre-event shoots, such as family portraits?

Many families are interested in getting some formal portraits taken before the bar mitzvah party. It’s a great opportunity to capture everyone looking their best before things get busy. Ask your photographer if they offer these sessions and what they might cost. These portrait sessions allow the photographer to take more refined and polished photos of your family, ensuring you come away with beautiful images.


Can we see a gallery from a previous bar mitzvah shoot?

This is your chance to see the photographer’s style, skill, and experience firsthand. Pay attention to photos you’d like to be similarly captured for your event. If you see a lot of them, there’s a good chance that the photographer’s skill and style align with your vision.

Pro Tip: Ask if you can see a complete bar mitzvah gallery, not just the highlights. This will allow you to see how the photographer documents an entire event and will show if their work quality is consistent throughout the event.


Will you personally photograph the event, or will it be someone else from your team?

You want to know who will actually be photographing your bar mitzvah. There are large studios that carry multiple photographers. If the person you’re talking to isn’t the one who will be working at your event, ask if you can meet the photographer who will be assigned to you. This way you can ensure you’re comfortable with their style and personality.


Can you provide testimonials from previous clients?

You’ll get a good sense of what it’s like to work with the photographer after hearing from previous clients. You don’t necessarily need to focus on the quality of the images for this bit – you’ll be able to assess that from looking at previous galleries. Instead, ask about the photographer’s professionalism. Punctuality, a respectful demeanor, and a smile go a long way. If the photographer can put you at ease, it will show up positively in the final images.

This may sound like an afterthought, but the photographer should be, well, nice to work with. How did they interact with guests and children? Bar Mitzvah parties move fast and things don’t always go according to plan. You’ll want to know if your photographer can gracefully handle difficult situations while still capturing beautiful photos.

Find out how previous clients felt about working with the photographer throughout the planning stage. Were they responsive to email and phone calls? Were they open to different ideas?


What is your policy on sharing or using the photos for promotional purposes?

Many photographers will want to be able to place some photos in their portfolio, website, or social media. Displaying their work is how they continue to get more business opportunities. After all, would you have even reached out to this photographer if you couldn’t see his latest work?

If you have privacy concerns, clarifying their policy upfront is a good idea to avoid any misunderstandings later. If the photographer agrees to respect your privacy concerns, set specific boundaries so you’re both on the same page.


How long will it take to receive the edited photos?

Ask how long the typical turnaround is for receiving the edited photos. Every photographer has a different workflow, and it’s best to have set expectations.


What is your pricing, and are there any additional fees I should be aware of?

Well, this one is pretty important and probably already obvious to you. Ask about any potential extra fees the photographer may include, such as a second shooter, travel, or special editing requests.

Some photographers offer different types of packages. Some packages only cover a few hours, while higher-end (and higher-priced)  packages will probably include prints and albums.

Overtime fees are also something you should discuss. There are different ways that each photographer handles overtime, and you should inquire about their policy, to avoid any potential confusion later.


Do you have any experience working at our chosen venue?

While not a deal breaker of any kind, it’s a nice bonus if the photographer has some previous knowledge working in your chosen venue. This means they might already know the best spots for certain photos, how to navigate the place, and avoid any potential challenges.


By asking these questions, you’ll be well on your way to choosing the right bar mitzvah photographer. Remember, a great photographer, in addition to creating stunning imagery, will also be professional, well-prepared, and easy to work with.

Mazal Tov!

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