I love working with Michael Temchine of Michael Temchine Photography and Mitzvahs by Michael. His work is stunning and he has such a way of capturing the special moments of your family’s big day. I know you’ll love him too, so read on for a little bit more about how he became a photographer and why he loves what he does.
How did you get started in your business?
For as long as I could remember every I asked for a camera from my parents for Chanukah, or my birthday. My interest in photography grew exponentially in high school leading to my attending the Rochester Institute of Technology for a degree in photojournalism. At the final class my fellow future photojournalists and I talked about what we were all going to do. I said, “I don’t know what exactly I am going to do, but I do know I am never going to freelance or shoot weddings.”
Boy was I wrong. I just did not know it yet.
Upon graduation, I began my photojournalism career covering politics then freelanced for many publications specializing in features (culture, life, community, and portraiture). Along with many photojournalists, my desire was to use photography to change the world; to have an impact on how the public sees and interacts with each other.
So how did I become that which I swore I would never become, a wedding and mitzvah photographer? All it required was a change of perspective on what “the world” meant.
The focus of my photography is now on the individual world of each family I work with. Photographing their life’s most important moments could not be more consequential; with the impact lasting generations. I love being able to tell your stories. I love being able to show you, you with real moments – large and small.
What’s your favorite part of what you do?
A photojournalist friend of mine once told me when I was starting out that “… all stories are about people.” The people I meet and photograph will always be my favorite part. I love the interactions, relationships, and dynamics of people coming together.
I love finding those little moments that nobody else sees and capturing it for eternity. I love that a still image never gets older. Your bar, or bat, mitzvah kid will always be 13 in that photo even when you display it at their wedding, or to their grandchildren. You never get older in a photo and these are precious times in their lives.
What’s your pop color–that something special that makes you, you?
What makes me, me is that I know that it is never about me. This is your mitzvah, not mine. These are your kids and friends, not mine. My job is to tell your story, not mine. I am a keen observer and a discreet photographer that does not interject, unnecessarily, myself into the event.
Whether it is portraiture or the party I am always looking for moments of personality to peek through. When you look through photos that I have taken they should ring true and not staged.
I see the moments that tell your story. That is my strength.
What’s your favorite moment of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah?
I don’t have a favorite moment, per se, what I have is a favorite overall feeling from the bar and bat mitzvah kid. What I love is to see the kid, the honoree, the star of the day, exuberant with joy at their party. I love seeing that the party they are attending is right for them. Unfortunately, I have been to parties that were not designed for the kid, where it is clear that they would rather be anywhere but there. Sometimes the party seems to be for everybody else, or the parents, and what the kid wants is lost. That is why when I photograph parties where the kid has been involved, and listened to, are always fantastic.
What questions should parents ask someone in your field?
- What is your approach to photography? Is it Photojournalistic/Documentary vs Traditional?
- Are you the photographer that will be there for the portraits and party?
- Do you have business/liability insurance?
- How do you handle equipment failure? (It happens and if the photographer does not have backups for their equipment then you are potentially without a photographer)
- What happens if we book you and you can’t make it? What are the reasons this might happen?
- How many years have you been a professional photographer? Do you make your living full-time as a photographer or is this a side gig/hobby?
- BONUS: What questions should parents NOT ask someone in your field?
Have you photographed at X venue before?
If you are only looking at professionals especially trained photojournalists, then the venue does not matter. Having been someplace before does not mean the photographer will have any special inside knowledge over another photographer. I have photographed bnai mitzvah and multiple weddings for the same families, sometimes at the same venues, and each time the photos were completely different. In these cases, the venues may be the same, and many of the people are the same. What is different is that the honoree is different, the time is different, so the energy and event is necessarily different. Same people, same place, different feel.