When Life Gives you Lemons... a Bat Mitzvah Story

May 12, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

When Life Gives You Lemons... at 13

Imagine being 13-years old, working hard for a year or more learning to chant from an ancient text in a foreign language, preparing to teach a lesson about your interpretation of this text to an entire sanctuary filled with your family and friends, some of whom travelled great distances, and planning an amazing party to celebrate your accomplishment. And then, a global pandemic hits. Your entire event is cancelled.

No Bat Mitzvah.

No party.

No family and friends coming together to celebrate with you.

Sadly, this is the reality for most of my 2020 clients.

For my client Naomi, this past Saturday was supposed to be the day of her Bat Mitzvah. I had already photographed Naomi's big sister's Bat Mitzvah about a year and a half ago, and I knew how much Naomi was looking forward to her turn. Heartbreaking for the entire family.

 

Making Lemonade

Thankfully, Naomi's mom reached out to me on Saturday to see if I'd be willing to do an impromptu, socially distanced portrait session in her backyard. After two months of photographing NO ONE, I could not wait to do this for Naomi and her family!

Bat-Mitzvah-PortraitBat-Mitzvah-PortraitBat Mitzvah portrait of a girl, taken on the day her Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By Bar Bat Mitzvah photographer Cheryl Bigman.

Rosie getting in on the action...

Bat-Mitzvah-Portrait-with-DogBat-Mitzvah-Portrait-with-DogBat Mitzvah portrait of a girl and her pet dog, taken on the day her Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By Bar Bat Mitzvah photographer Cheryl Bigman.

Gotta love those high tops!!!

Bat-Mitzvah-Portrait-with-Pink-RosesBat-Mitzvah-Portrait-with-Pink-RosesBat Mitzvah portrait of a girl sitting on brick steps in a rose garden on the day her Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By Bar Bat Mitzvah photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

The whole family dressed in the clothes they had bought just for Naomi's big day, and the girls did their hair and makeup. While it wasn't the same as having an actual Bat Mitzvah, the portrait session definitely helped lift everyone's spirits on what otherwise would have been a sad day. Of course we had to include the family pets, Russell and Rosie, which made it even more fun (although I think they thought I was nuts with all the crazy sounds I had to make to get their attention)!

Bat-Mitzvah-Family-Portrait-with-PetsBat-Mitzvah-Family-Portrait-with-PetsBat Mitzvah family portrait with pet dogs taken on the day their Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Mother-Daughter-Bat-Mitzvah-PortraitMother-Daughter-Bat-Mitzvah-PortraitBat Mitzvah mother daughter portrait taken on the day her Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman. Father-Daughter-Bat-Mitzvah-PortraitFather-Daughter-Bat-Mitzvah-PortraitDaddy Daughter Bat Mitzvah family portrait taken on the day their Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman. Sisters-Bat-Mitzvah-Family-PortraitSisters-Bat-Mitzvah-Family-PortraitPortrait of a girl and her big sister taken on the day her Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

How did we do It?

In order to comply with current social distancing guidelines, we made sure to stay at least 6 ft. apart which was no problem thanks to my very long zoom lens, and Naomi's large backyard. And of course, we all had masks on hand. So you know we had to do these...

Bat-Mitzvah-Family-Portrait-Coronavirus-StyleBat-Mitzvah-Family-Portrait-Coronavirus-StyleBat Mitzvah family portrait wearing face masks, taken on the day their Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman. Bat-Mitzvah-Family-Portrait-FacemasksBat-Mitzvah-Family-Portrait-FacemasksBat Mitzvah family portrait wearing face masks, taken on the day their Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Big sister Lindsay, all grown up since I photographed her Bat Mitzvah!

Portrait-of-a-Teenage-GirlPortrait-of-a-Teenage-GirlPortrait of a teenage girl. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

Teen-Portrait-Girl-in-a-Rose-GardenTeen-Portrait-Girl-in-a-Rose-GardenPortrait of a teen girl sitting in a pink rose garden with brick steps. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Once we finished all the dressy family pictures, it was time to change into a more casual look...

with Russell & Rosie...

NaomiKottlePre-0185-EditNaomiKottlePre-0185-Edit

Portrait-with-the-PupsPortrait-with-the-PupsSisters pose for a family portrait with their two pet dogs. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

Rosie got a little camera shy...

Camera-Shy-PuppyCamera-Shy-PuppyA camera shy puppy hides her face during a family portrait session with her big sisters. Taken by San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Beautiful Naomi.

Tween-Girl-Portrait-in-PinkTween-Girl-Portrait-in-PinkBat Mitzvah portrait of a girl sitting on brick steps in a pink rose garden on the day her Bat Mitzvah was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By San Francisco Bay Area photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Black & White or Color???

Sisters-Portrait-in-Black-and-WhiteSisters-Portrait-in-Black-and-WhitePortrait of two teenage sisters in black and white. By San Francisco Bay Area family photographer Cheryl Bigman.

Sisters-Portrait-in-Pink-Rose-GardenSisters-Portrait-in-Pink-Rose-GardenPortrait of two teenage sisters sitting in a pink rose garden. By San Francisco Bay Area family photographer Cheryl Bigman.

 

Last bit of golden hour light (with help from an off-camera flash).

Portrait-of-a-Tween-Girl-in-PinkPortrait-of-a-Tween-Girl-in-PinkPortrait of a tween girl casually laying on the grass during the last few minutes of golden hour light.

 

It's Part of the Story

As weird as these times are, it's part of the story of Naomi's Bat Mitzvah. A BIG thank you to Naomi's mom for asking me to do this for her.

Naomi's story will be continued on a rescheduled date later next year...

 

And these pictures will forever be a reminder of the day we chose to turn lemons into lemonade.

 

Have you had to cancel your special event this year?

I feel for you. Our lives have really been turned upside down, and I totally empathize with all of you who have been dealing with the uncertainty and disappointment of cancelling a special event. If there is ANYTHING I can do to help you and your family get through this challenging time, please don't hesitate to reach out!

 

If you have any great advice for others in the same boat, PLEASE SHARE IN THE COMMENTS!

 

And most importantly, please stay healthy!!!

 

 

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Thanks!

Cheryl

 


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