Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Bar Mitzvah Photography – Just One – Smiths of Smithfield


The magic of photography is the ability to capture, in a fraction of a second, an image that sums up a relationship and I’m so pleased to share this picture today, an image that reflects the mutual love, respect and pride of a father and a son.

It was with absolute pleasure that I agreed to photograph Max’s Bar Mitzvah Lunch at Smiths of Smithfield in London recently. I had first met the family back in 2008 and I have fond memories of our first photo shoot out on Highbury Fields. We’d met again for a fantastic photography session in Highgate woods a few years later and so I was really looking forward to this, our third session, on such an important day for Max and his family.

This was my first time photographing a Bar Mitzvah and it was a wonderful occasion. Thirteen seems such a good age to celebrate a young person, growing into adulthood but before the more difficult teenage years. The pride Max’s family has in this lovely young man was clear to see and justly deserved. After diner when Max gave his speech I was moved to tears, it was absolutely magnificent, written with no help from adults he mesmerized the room, speaking form the heart to his parents, grandparents, friends and younger brother of the love he had for them. It was a privilege to be there and to witness.

This picture seems to sum up the day to me, it shows such a heartfelt relationship, and bonds of such love. Max and his dad caught unawares as they share a moment. You can feel the love, the pride in that look and in the gesture of the hands connecting them together. I hope it’s the kind of picture that Sean will keep on his desk, which Max will hang on his wall, a picture that will raise a smile during the inevitable ups and downs of teenager years and that will be held dear as Max grows into adulthood. Here he stands at his Bar Mitzvah a confident, intelligent and charming young man. Congratulations Max, it was a fantastic day and thank you for letting me share it with you all.

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