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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Why I would hire an event planner

When a prospective client interviews me, I always ask them if they’re hiring an event planner or coordinator… some photographers will tell you that their having one indicates that the budget is there and this will be a fancy affair…to me it indicates a day going smoothly, a relaxed parent/ bride and at the end of the day – their expenses might even come in under budget so the extra funds can go to the honeymoon/ vacation/ college fund/ credit card debt.. whatever… one thing is sure – most things will run on time, I will have someone to ask questions and all in all the day and evening will go smoother… because when hiring a good event coordinator, he or she will take care of all the details you really, really don’t have the time for, especially on the day of… I would much rather just let the coordinator decide which side of the bar to put the monogrammed napkins.. which brings me to the main subject of this post and that is the wonderful and gorgeous Dee Gaubert, of No Worries Event Planning. I met Dee at an event I was photographing a few years back and we immediately connected – not just over living in the same area and raising children, but just over our views on life, work, casual wear and spending time in Paris… Dee is sweet, friendly, efficient, organized, fun, and always makes sure I get fed…Dee also flies once or twice a year to coordinate a wedding in Paris and I made her promise to get me over there to shoot a wedding.. hey, I can shoot a wedding in French, Mais Oui!  Fromage! Merci, bisoux, au revoir!

So a few months ago Dee asked me to photograph her so she has a “decent” headshot for her website ABOUT page… we got Kari Cottom to make her up just a bit ( This whole Hair & Make up thing is totally growing on me…!!!) and since Dee only used one for her site and we had all these others, I thought they needed to see the light of day… so here they are Dee.. and Happy International Woman’s Day… You are one!

Oh, and the main reason to hire an event planner /coordinator/ day of? Because even though they told us we could, its no fun doing it all, on our own.

W Hotel Bat Mitzvah

Arielle celebrated her Bat Mitzvah at the W Hotel in Hollywood. And it was an all out affair… spending the night before at the hotel, getting ready in the swanky room, hair and make up, fancy dress and shoes, and me, as her photographer :)) Seriously though – what an awesome party with DJ Tutus at the helm  – there was so much going on – the Hollywood Candy set up the table right at the entrance – there was a green screen photobooth – cell phone covers made on site with photos,  lollipop sculptures, and if the food and desert and candy wasn’t enough – a Coffee Bean blended drinks station was set up and I tasted for the first time the vanilla shake WITH whipped cream….But he best surprise for Arielle was her family flying in from Israel to celebrate with her – and she surprised them with two dance performances during the party! It was a wonderful Bat Mitzvah night at the cool and hip W hotel on Hollywood Blvd…!


today I was fat – tomorrow morning I’ll be thin.

This is a very personal post. Read with caution.

Every day when I get dressed, I look in the mirror. I don’t look at my face – I look at my body. Every morning I look and have a conversation with myself – I judge myself, then I judge my self judgement, then I determine if I think I look thin or if I look fat. Then I have a whole other conversation about why does it even matter and that I should love myself no matter what and that it’s all in my head anyway, and that even if I am a little more today, it will be gone tomorrow. I haven’t shifted in weight much, in the last 20 years or so… but I am now 41 and I begin to worry. And then I get dressed. This whole conversation takes about 37 seconds, and then I go on with my day. Not giving it another thought,  eating when Im hungry, not drinking enough water, making the kids eat something healthy, sending them to bed, and then preparing for bed.  And then I get angry. As I get undressed I find my flaws, my wrinkly legs, my flabby stomach, my round arms, my fallen breasts, my jiggly ass. I am not angry because I feel fat, I am angry because I judge myself. And because I didn’t defend myself when someone called me fat. Actually someone called me Obese.

Now, if you know me, you know I am anything but. If I weren’t judging myself, I would consider myself just fine. Not thin, not fat, just fine – “perfect – just the way you are” But this someone, who presented herself as a health specialist and nutritionist weighed my  one her high tech scale , calculated some numbers and delivered me the news, that I was dehydrated, my muscle mass was week, my body age was 45 and I was obese. But not to worry – she had some shakes I could drink to lose weight and no longer be obese.

I could send you to the Facebook link of the photo taken two weeks prior…Actually – I put it right here in this post  –

in a bikini, heck, go to any of my facebook  photos- you can call me a lot of things, nothing worse then I call myself on a bad day.. but OBESE?

I dont know why after so many months I am still so offended and upset. I think it hit a nerve. My mom has struggled with weight all her life – she’d always be on the latest diet, she’d always eat vegetables and salads, she’d always deprive herself of the foods she wanted because she was on a diet. And guess what – my mom is fat and my mom is obese. ANd yeah – I judge. She knows it and it hurts and I hate myself for it. So when this lady called me obese I took it hard. She touched a raw nerve. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and for months have tried to laugh it off. But tonight I got angry. Because when I looked in the mirror I couldn’t see beyond the tiredness of the day and the self judgment – tonight, all I could hear was OBESE OBESE OBESE. And tonight I got angry not because she told me I was obese but because I hadn’t told her anything- because I didn’t tell her ” ARE YOU F*&^ing KIDDING ME? Have you looked at me? I haven’t eaten for a month, I fit in clothes that I wore pre kids – my doctor told me I was perfectly healthy and you’re actually looking at me, and thinking it ok to call me OBESE???

Now I apologize in advance if I am coming across as offending anyone who is overweight or obese – I do not mean it as an insult at all- I feel those words are thrown around way too lightly – my problem is that I don’t struggle with my weight – I struggle with my mind – and as I raise a daughter in this body image obsessed world I want to be able to defend myself and to teach her to defend herself against people who may not be bullies per se but who say things with disregard of the damage they leave behind. And yes, I  may be super sensitive to the subject… so just don’t call me fat, only I can do that.

And this? – this os from yesterday.

February 18, 2014 - 12:54 pm

Liesl Diesel - I agree, Shani. Only my doctor and myself have permission to pass judgements like that. According to those same numbers that “nutritionist” ran I also would be obese, simply because of my height to weight ratio. It’s ridiculous, because I am incredibly muscular, and I worked hard to get into this shape after having two children! BTW, I think you look super sexy in a bikini! =)

February 20, 2014 - 9:28 am

Karen D - Oh the sh*t people will say to get you to buy their product…ridiculous. You are not obese. You are not fat. I think you look fantastic. I can, however, relate to what you’re feeling.

On a side note, I love matkot! Great use of them ;-)

February 20, 2014 - 11:28 pm

Edith - Wow girl! You’re super cute! Screw ’em! Good for you for putting this out there.

February 23, 2014 - 9:06 pm

Paige - First off I cannot believe anyone could ever call you obese or fat. You’ve always been slender. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that bullshit. More than that though, I’m sorry you fight that war with the mirror. I know what that’s like and it’s the worst. You wrote so vulnerably about it, which is so inspiring. It’s really a great post and eye opener.

Happy Valentine’s Day 2014

The problem with blogging in the middle of the night is coming up with something to say about valentine’s… and since I usually avoid the whole day… I should probably just let the photos speak for themselves and remind myself, and everyone else, that even though Valentine’s day is all about love… there are another 364 days that in which to remember to tell the one you love, that you do love them. Always. So call a person you love.

February 14, 2014 - 11:27 am

Liesl Diesel - these are so fun! I love simple portraits like this!

How To Find Your Ideal Client

I used to get a lot of junk emails every day… A LOT – My new year’s resolutions was unsubscribing to most of them…  I still get some and I save for “one day I’ll read them” most of them are titled  “How to”  how to be a better photographer, how to grow your business in 30 days, how to sell more of whatever you sell – MORE BETTER BIGGER FASTER… Just read this ONE email, just watch this ONE tutorial (and then buy the workshop, the book, the subscription…) Every once in a while I actually read and attempt to follow the directions… One of the first steps, will tell you every marketing guru online –  is finding your ideal client…how to find that ideal client? First you need to describe that person; Who are they? Where do they live? What do they drive? Where do they shop? What do they eat? What do they listen to? What do they smell like? What did they name their puppies? What do they breathe? It’s almost like trying to find a life partner…Then you have to go out and find them….So you can make the lists, you can follow your rules… until one day – you just meet your ideal person or your ideal client and you just KNOW – you feel special, they appreciate you for who you are, they allow you your freedom, and they just trust you…Whether they fit the list or not – doesn’t matter – when the magic is there – it just works.. just like true love….


February 12, 2014 - 12:32 pm

Liesl Diesel - what a great set of photos! I love it when I connect with a whole family (including dogs) like this!

February 13, 2014 - 6:04 pm

Sadi Lane - What an excellent blog post! Your work is so great I love the style and how consistent it is :))

February 14, 2014 - 3:40 am

Stephanie Overstreet - Great photos!! Those girls are models in the making! :)

Sydney’s Bat Mitzvah Portrait

Sydney was Emma‘s little sister … well, she still IS.. but 3 years ago, when I shot Emma’s Bat Mitztvah, she was the little one – you can even find Sydney in this post  .. and this year it was her turn to receive the Torah and to “become a young adult” but before that eventful Saturday (the sneak peek Winter Wonderland was seen here) we got together and photographed her just outside her house and a gorgeous yet typical Southern California afternoon…on a quiet beautiful suburban street … (I am not form here originally, and I I still feel like I am in a movie … I feel like I’ve seen this place, or that place on TV at some point…) Anyways…I am just finishing up editing all her photos and loading them to her own private website – a little extra to my new website that is technically up on the world wide web….but not officially launched…(check it out and in the meantime.. since it is February, the one month that is actually wintery…I wish you to stay warm!




February 13, 2014 - 6:07 pm

Sadi Lane - Beautiful photographs! I love the jumping dance shot especially! Such a beautiful girl!

February 14, 2014 - 4:21 am

Stephanie Overstreet - Beautiful photos!! I love the fall colors in the trees behind her, and the action shots!

whatever it takes

I am considered amongst my clients as a very patient photographer, with a special connection to kids, who gets them to do, look and just be different in front of the camera… I always smile and nod, and think.. until I get to photograph MY KIDS! Then I become the same mom that begs her children to behave, while my husband’s in the background –  yelling at them to smile… while I am telling them “DONT smile..” (just imagine the look I gave him…) I practically have to beg, lie and cheat to get two minutes of my kids’ precious time for their yearly hugging photo… I used to promise them gifts, Legos, candy…. but after a mini root canal for Zoe and complete lack of space for one lego set on Kyle’s shelves, I decided the power of my request should have been enough… hhmmmmm bribing may have gone a long way…

January 21, 2014 - 1:36 pm

Kristen Burtch - Shani! This is my absolute favorite post of yours! All that kicking and screaming was worth it because these are precious!! AHHH! LOVE them!

January 21, 2014 - 2:01 pm

Sadi Lane - I love it and let me tell you girl we are all there with you! My kids are the exact same way… I find that skittles work well both my kids are young and that is still really exciting to them…. I imagine it won’t work for much longer

January 21, 2014 - 2:54 pm

Karen D - Love personal posts! Whatever you did/said seem to have worked :)

January 22, 2014 - 9:25 am

Belinda - Its always hardest when it’s your own family! Nice job

Winter Wonderland – Bat Mitzvah Photography Sneak peek

We don’t get much of a winter here in Los Angeles, Sunny CA… so walking into this Winter Wonderland send a little chill down my back, in a good way! The room was really transformed into a magical Narnia-esque ballroom..I just wanted to share a few images from last night’s Bat Mitzvah… and of course – today is as gorgeous a day as we’re used to! Stay warm…

January 14, 2014 - 8:57 pm

Heather Weingarten - Please let me know when all these amazing pics are up on the site. Thank you for taking great pics of my work! It looks even better in the photos.

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