Does It Still Count as Portrait Photography if I take Pictures at a Boston B'Not Mitzvah?

Though headshots are my main focus as a photographer, I still really love shooting events, and have been doing so for about as long as I've been taking photos. Event photography is arguably the most challenging genre, since it combines almost all other genres into one, and you have only RIGHT NOW to take a beautiful portrait/landscape/product/lifestyle/fashion/photojournalism-style image with great lighting, correct settings, and awesome composition. Also there's usually environmental factors like rain, heat, cold, and lots and lots of people who are trying to have a good time and either don't really want to have their picture taken or don't even realize they're standing right in front of the photographer. Despite all the challenges, I LOVE event photography. I love thinking on my feet and solving problems under pressure, the myriad of awesome gear it gives me an excuse to buy, the free food, interacting with tons of people, being part of the party, and of course, delivering what very well may be the client's only images from what could be the most important day of their life. 

March 14th, 2015 was a special day for the Handelman Family because it was their twin daughters' B'not Mitzvah. It was also a special day for me, since I was shooting the whole thing alone. Up until then, I had worked as a second shooter with Jon Fischer ofJon Fischer Photography, shooting lots of Bar, Bat, B'nai, and B'not Mitzvahs in the Boston area. A lot of what I know about event photography I learned from Jon, and I'm still learning from and working with him. I shot this event as one of Jon's shooters, but still, it was mine. 

The day was long- I started it off right by falling on some black ice and ripping a hole in my long-loved and already well-worn black dress pants. Luckily, the DJ had gaff tape, and I patched up the hole from the inside and was good to go for the whole day. I started with taking the traditional posed Torah photos with the twins and the Rabbi, using an off-camera flash in an umbrella and my new Yongnuo YN-560 IV flashes (these amazing units made their debut that day- they're so great because you can control the manual remote flash settings from an on-camera flash!) There was then a bit of "meet-and-greet" photos (mostly with the 24-70 f/2.8L II- how I shot events without that lens before I'll never figure out), and then the service. I took a break, for that, and then THE PARTY STARTED! The whole event is fun to shoot, but the reception is always my favorite part. There's so much going on all around me- lots of moments to capture and smiles and dancing and joy. This was a particularly rousing celebration, with the Horah (of course) a beautiful candlelighting, and lots of games led by the DJ. For lighting I used a combo of bounce flash (the ceilings were low and white, and though the event was during the day and there were a lot of windows, it was overcast so they weren't too blown out) and a couple of YN-560 IVs on stands on either side of the dance floor for rim/fill light. I mostly used the 24-70, 17-40, and 70-200mm lenses, though I pulled out the 85mm f/1.2L II for some gorgeous (though lucky) low-ISO and dreamy shots. 

All told, I took over 3000 photos, but got it down to about 700 final images. I'm happy with how the event turned out, especially since it was my first "start-to-finish" coverage of a Mitzvah. The client was happy too- the images have been delivered with positive feedback! It was a long, exhausting day, and I need to buy new pants to replace the ones I ripped, but it was great and I can't wait to shoot more events like this one!