Bar and bat Mitzvah Photography- by Shani Barel – Serving the Great Los Angeles Area » modern photography with a twist of sarcasm

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Emily and Nate – my little cousin gets married!!!!!

This is me and my cousin – at the airport photo-booth – 16 years ago, when she was 12, and was on her way to America for her Bat Mitzvah trip. I was studying in photography  in Jerusalem at the time, and I got up super early in the morning so I could go to her house and videotape her waking up and getting ready for the trip…..( and then eaten by my photo loving cat – and by that I mean he liked to lick the emulsion on the photo paper…) It was just one of the many school projects she participated in and one day I will find that VHS box and covert them to something that can be viewed on an iPhone.. ANYWAYS…fast forward 10 years and she called me from Israel asking if she could should would come to America… which of course- I told her yes… so to make a long story short – on Friday, she married her sweetheart, her love, her knuffle bunny, her  bio chemist – or whatever it is they do… and finally I got to photograph her in a project of her choice – Emily – you asked – and you have received! I love you!


June 22, 2014 - 7:27 pm

Leonie Barel - OMG these photos are beautiful, moving! Personal, involved and from the heart, wonderful!

June 23, 2014 - 2:42 pm

Sandra - I’m speechless Shani!!! You are so freaking talented it’s unreal… mix that
talent with the fact that you actually love Emily ( black heart or not haha)
The fact that Emily is so beautiful, and has the sweetest smile doesn’t hurt
of course…
Now Emily, that tongue??? Lol!


June 23, 2014 - 5:33 pm

Emily - WOW. JUST… WOW. I feel so incredibly lucky!!! I mean, Nate’s great and all, but the reason I feel lucky is because I happen to have this incredibly talented photographer as my cousin!!!!!!!! The pictures came out more amazing than I ever imagined, Shani was all about being creative with the shots and McGiver-ing using the… Challenging setting we had so that we would get the best shots possible! Shani is also one of my closest friends so obviously I had a blast shooting with her, but even Nate, who barely knew her and HATES taking pictures, enjoyed it!!!! Shani is just unbelievable.

June 24, 2014 - 2:59 pm

Courtney - Whoa! What a rad non-traditional way to declare love :) The dress, the getting space, everything was documented so well + that beginning photo was way too cute ;)

June 24, 2014 - 3:07 pm

sadi lane - These are gorgeous! What a fun offbeat bride and groom!

June 24, 2014 - 4:43 pm

Nathaniel - Beautiful!!!! When we come to LA we’ll have to do a photo shoot with you

June 25, 2014 - 12:15 am

Victoria Johansson - Such a personal story- I love this!!

June 26, 2014 - 5:11 pm

Kristine Maglunob - Shani, your cousin is adorable!! You captured their happy, unpretentious, carefree love so beautifully.

June 26, 2014 - 5:38 pm

Karen D - Such a sweet story! Definitely looks like you captured their personalities :)

June 27, 2014 - 2:26 pm

maria garcia - sweet, from start to finish! loved this!

June 27, 2014 - 2:54 pm

Joann Loo - It really looks like you captured their fun personalities!

June 28, 2014 - 5:55 am

Mark Martinez - Gorgeous couple and truly beautiful images. And that ring shot is just amazing :)

July 4, 2014 - 11:49 am

gloria gines - love the record album wall, the bright flowers and the ombré dress!


The rock on the way to Palm Springs

So my dad is in town… we decided to leave him with the kids and skip town. 48 hours on our own – no nagging, asking, crying, complaining, demanding pouting… oh wait, I was on the trip so there was still plenty of that… no, really.. it was quiet riding down to Palm Springs (we stopped at the Riverside Mission Inn ) and even though we didn’t have the kids in the car, we still played the ABC game…now, usually I don’t bother bringing my camera, my iPhone can do everything I usually need it to, especially fit in my pocket – but I took these two days to reconnect with what I like to do… so besides swimming, riding a bicycle, sleeping, eating, watching movies and people watching – I actually like taking pictures, so no other reason but actually taking them. Not for a memory, not for a documentation of a wedding, not because I am paid… but like I used to, 25 years ago, when I got my first camera, and took photos of doors, and shadows, and stairs, and clowns, and homeless people and dead cats…I wanted that – to be able to stop and snap. I wanted to reconnect with the magic that once was photography for me – and in order to do that – I needed to go “old school” … Ideally – that would mean get out my old Nikon, get a  couple of B&W rolls of film and take that route… but film is not something I miss really, so I did the next best thing. I took my old, Canon 5D, set it to Manual,  B&W, JPG Large, 28 mm lens with a polarizing filter – and used black gaffer’s tape to hide  the screen on the back of the camera so I couldn’t see the result…It took me some time to stop looking at the screen after every shot – but it also made me make sure my exposures were spot on, or bracket a couple of shots.. an then I did what I used to do when shooting film – I couldn’t wait to see the results and prayed I liked what I saw.. I hope you like it too….

Kings Highway at the ACE hotel in Palm Springs
ACE Hotel Palm Springs
The POol at the ACE hotel Palm Springs
The Ace Hotel Palm Springs - the palm Trees
View from above - The ACE hotel Palm SPrings
The Jacuzzi at the ACE hotel Palm Springs
Night time of the ACE hotel Palm Springs
Early Mornign pool at the ACE hotel Palm Springs
The ACE hotel Palm Springs - black and white pool

I shot 251 images in tow day. I quickly narrowed it down to 118, then my next round brought me to 47, from which I picked my top 22 above and the rest are in this gallery….


June 16, 2014 - 6:11 pm

Karen D - Very cool project! Great way to become less reliant on the screen :) Love it!

June 16, 2014 - 9:22 pm

Leonie Barel - Oh wow. I love the old retro look, seems the Ace swim club was the perfect place for retro photos!!! And chairs, yes!!
Great idea, creative and the results are well worth it.

June 16, 2014 - 10:00 pm

helen djukic - Shani, your photos transport me. Bravo!

June 16, 2014 - 11:52 pm

Vi Johansson - Loving all these black and whites!! Beautiful!

June 18, 2014 - 10:32 pm

Stephanie Overstreet - Great job!! I love that you took time for yourself, and to get back to what you love! You had some beautiful results.

June 18, 2014 - 11:00 pm

Sadi Lane - Wow this is an awesome series, I could totally see these hanging in a snazzy coffee shop, great work!

June 19, 2014 - 8:27 am

Tori Shults - This is awesome! I need to shoot more personal projects. The image with the single palm tree would make an epic huge canvas!

June 19, 2014 - 4:31 pm

Danielle Bacon - These are great! They have a really cool cinematic feel to them. So many of them would make some awesome wall art!

June 20, 2014 - 4:10 pm

maria garcia - how fun! and what a great idea… they came out gorgeous!

July 4, 2014 - 11:52 am

gloria gines - love love love the b/w! so jelly! i want to go to the ACE even more now..!


We’ve been counting the days to the last day of school – and it’s tomorrow… I know the kids are quite excited, but i am not sure they are excited as I am…I need a break from the early morning mad dash out of the house and the hour drive to school and back. I need a break from the cooked breakfasts before 7 am… from the late homework assignments (that’s mainly Mitch.. but still..) I need a break from their strict bedtime, the no TV during the week rule, and just the general go go go attitude… ( what I will certainly miss is the thousands of dollars we just spent on camp so they are NOT as home all day with us….ha ha ha! So here’s to a fun wet San fernando Valley summer!

June 4, 2014 - 11:46 am

Brittney Hannon - This is such an awesome image!! I can’t believe summer is already here. Hope you have a fun few months with your family and are able to sleep in! =)

June 4, 2014 - 11:57 am

Alexander Mo - Nice action shot!

June 4, 2014 - 12:10 pm

maria garcia - what a fun image!!!! I love summertime!

June 4, 2014 - 12:12 pm

shani - I definitely plan to take advantage of the extra time in the morning, Brittany – either to sleep in or… Ah, let’s face it … Sleep in !

June 4, 2014 - 12:13 pm

shani - Thank you Alexander !

June 4, 2014 - 12:13 pm

shani - Maria – It does get hot around here – so we’ll be I. The pool a lot !! :)

June 4, 2014 - 12:54 pm

Mitch - Thanks for the homework credit. I just need to tell you yet again how gifted you are.

June 4, 2014 - 4:27 pm

Joann Loo - I love this composite. It’s such a fun photo!

June 4, 2014 - 8:42 pm

Karen D - Oh my goodness, it’s summer! When did that happen??? Such a fun photo!

June 5, 2014 - 10:25 am

Liesl Diesel - yay for summertime! WOOT! fun photo ;-)

June 5, 2014 - 6:43 pm

Annie - Very decisive moment-esque shot :)

June 6, 2014 - 3:09 pm

Sadi Lane - This is awesome, looks pretty much like our summers! We are water babies! Have a great summer Vaca!

June 6, 2014 - 4:18 pm

Kristine Maglunob - HAHAHA So fun! I wish I had a pool!

Woodland Hills Country Club Bat Mitzvah

When I started photographing Bar and Bat Mitzvahs about 5 years ago – I had no idea I would enjoy photographing these events as much as I do… There’s something about being thirteen that I can connect to – based on my Tivo list one might suspect there’s a 13 year old in my house – one of the things that I love about shooting Bar Mitzvahs – are the communities I get to know – I see the same kids and moms throughout the years, and when I go to shoot a Bar Mitzvah party _ sometimes know more people there than at events I am actually invited to! So Caitlyn’s mom booked me a year in advance after meeting me at numerous events since my beginnings, and I got to see Caitlyn blossom into the beautiful girl that she is  – I am so proud of her – and I’m not even her mom – but working with her for three sessions – and her being fun, cooperative and up for anything legal – I got to know an awesome thirteen year old girl whose favorite show The Walking Dead I now have to add to my list!

May 30, 2014 - 1:04 am

Stephanie Overstreet - I remember seeing her portrait photos before! Beautiful young lady! Looks like a fun party!

May 30, 2014 - 11:00 am

Victoria Johansson - Looks like such a fun Bat Mitzvah!!!

May 30, 2014 - 2:04 pm

Joann Loo - Beautiful photos. Looks like such a fun family and fun party!

May 30, 2014 - 3:27 pm

Kristen Burtch - I love her sparkle dress! What a fun family! You captured some fun and memorable moments! Love it!

May 30, 2014 - 6:50 pm

Liesl Diesel - First, I cannot believe that girl is 13! She is so beautiful and grown up! These look like senior photos! I feel like I shouldn’t write that because the parents are probably reading this and feel the same way. She is just absolutely gorgeous. Great job catching all the portraits and emotions of such an incredibly important day!

June 2, 2014 - 8:57 pm

Sadi Lane - These are gorgeous! I love all of the colors with the uplighting! Great work!

School Pictures Again….

This was my fourth year photographing these beautiful kids at their school – and even though I didn’t post the best of 2013 – I still might do that…. You can see how much they’ve grown and still stay the same gorgeous selves – and even though this kid thinks telling him they are one of my favorites to photograph is just a marketing trick, it really isn’t – they are really are awesome! And I  love the BFF note on her hand that I only noticed when editing; the little surprises I enjoy!

May 22, 2014 - 9:27 pm

Brittney Hannon - They are darling! Great pictures of them! That note on her hand totally brings me back to elementary school days!

May 23, 2014 - 12:18 pm

Victoria Johansson - Lovely captures.

Bat Mitzvah Portrait at Malibu Paradise Cove

By the time this post gets published online, we will already be partying at Caitlyn’s Bat Mitzvah (Yes, I preset it to publish whenever I want…) the reason for Hush Hush and posting after the party starts os the pink dress… it’s her grand entrance dress and even though we dared wear it to the beach a couple of months ago, facing the elements of wind, water, fire…ok no fire….and tonight we celebrate her party and  I am probably having an awesome time – dancing and eating kids food that I LOOOVE! Of course I’ll be posting the party photos in a week or so :)


May 19, 2014 - 3:26 pm

Karen D - Great images, Shani! Hope the party went well ;-) Looking forward to seeing those, as well!

May 19, 2014 - 4:40 pm

Victoria Johansson - What a lovely set of portraits. I love the beach shots.

May 19, 2014 - 6:56 pm

Stephanie Overstreet - Beautiful girl! Those eyes!! Great work! :)

May 19, 2014 - 11:33 pm

Sadi Lane - Great captures! I love her dress its so pretty! She will cherish these for sure!

May 21, 2014 - 10:10 pm

Kristine Maglunob - Great images! I especially like the last one!

May 22, 2014 - 10:32 pm

Brittney Hannon - What a beautiful girl! You captured her so well, especially her bright blue eyes! That sparkly dress is amazing!

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day – Like every year – I try to explain to my kids that really, it should be mothers day everyday – and that they should make ME breakfast, and be nice, and ask me how I feel, and take care of me, do some chores, fold some washing, and bring me coffee when I get up – I am obviously NOT getting the message across! I made sure this year I got what I wanted and I made a list of what I wanted my day to be – wake up late, breakfast that includes French Toast, Yogurt, Fruit and orange juice and even coffee – I was so full by the end of it I had to go back for another nap… but between waking up and and seating down for breakfast I thought it would be fun to  renew my past years’ depictions of what Mother’s Day really feels like…this one is the living room and 2010 in the kitchen and 2009 with Kyle jumping on the bed … We shot this while eating breakfast and left Mitch to do all the clean up……

December 30, 2015 - 9:52 pm

Doggy Style [Portraits] - […] just hope and prayers that I can put it all together…..I have done this in the past with my mother’s day cards, so experience played into that too…so I posted here the different images I used and what it […]

Emerald City

And on a St Patrick’s Day related post – I was hired  to photograph these beautiful emerald jewels for Jack Weir and Sons – for their March 17th newsletter… my main goal for the day was to NOT DROP any of the rings – priced between 20-90 thousand, THOUSAND (!!!) dollars…. you know the old saying – you break you buy – well – I don’t have a good kidney to sell so I was extra careful.  DUH. The awesomeness of this job was increased by meeting the lovely red head named Noel who just happens to be a vegan chef who writes a brand new blog about just that subject – and appropriately named Red Red Gingerbread  . so it was a all around GREEN DAY All these deep green rocks, literally rocked my world.. ha ha – because you know it, if you’re in the LA area, your alarm went off  extra strong this morning!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

March 17, 2014 - 7:40 pm

Tori Shults - Nice shots! Great lighting! Beautiful woman and jewelry! Looks like the shoot was a success!

March 17, 2014 - 8:38 pm

Kristen Burtch - I love this! The picture of the hand with the ring over her eye is perfect!

March 18, 2014 - 8:34 am

Kristine Maglunob - LOL I wouldn’t have a good kidney to sell if ruined one of those rings, too. What a rock!!!

March 18, 2014 - 8:58 am

Karen D - Wow, she is stunning! And so is that ring…good job, Shani!

March 19, 2014 - 11:01 pm

Sadi Lane - These are lovely, she is beautiful what a gorgeous ring! I love emeralds they are my birth stone!

March 19, 2014 - 11:30 pm

Frank Carrino - wonderful, you captured her beauty for sure

March 21, 2014 - 1:03 pm

Liesl Diesel - so vibrant! love it!

March 21, 2014 - 11:59 pm

Stephanie Overstreet - Nice photos!! Magazine worthy! I would be a little afraid to handle jewelry that expensive, too! haha.

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