Last year Devorah contacted me about photographing her wedding, saying that she loved the style of my wedding photography and the moments that I captured. Being that she is an Orthodox Jew, she explained that what she was looking for wasn't typical of most brides having a traditional and religious wedding. I was beyond flattered that she was considering me to document her day. It been a few years since I had experience with an Orthodox Jewish wedding, so I ended up pairing up with Monika Lightstone, who regularly photographed traditional Jewish weddings. Monika is not only a wonderful photographer but a genuine and warmhearted soul as well. I would have been totally lost the day of without her, despite reading up on Orthodox Jewish weddings prior. She directed me as to what was coming next, and the meaning of everything that was taking place as well so that I could fully concentrated on capturing the day from a photojournalist's perspective.
It is not typical for women to be allowed to photograph the mens' portion of a Orthodox Jewish wedding, but this community was a little more liberal than most. Luckily Monika and I were able to photograph Devorah and Zev's wedding with hardly any restrictions. I am not a religious person, but I am deeply spiritual. I always have been fascinated by many religions and cultures, so I truly felt grateful to have been trusted to witness and photograph the beauty of this wedding. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I have to say that everyone was very warm and welcoming. For what it's worth, this experience got me thinking in general about the world... open mindedness, our perceived differences, and the stigmas that are attached to any religion or culture that seem foreign to us. Even for the most open minded person, in all honesty there is a trepidation, even if in the smallest sense, that a community different than your own will feel alien and separate. I believe that if you can strip away the differences on the surface, or the disparate "terminology" a group explains something with, you can start to see a common thread of love and humanity that runs through it all. One interesting fact I learnedwas that the bride is believed to be extremely blessed on the day of her wedding. In simplistic terms, she is an open channel to the divine, and she can grant blessings to others. At the end of the night when I said goodbye to Devorah, she asked permission if she could give me a blessing, to which I said, "of course." She took my hands in hers and asked that I, my children, family, and business be blessed and open to all the good the universe had to offer. And in that moment, I felt it.
Thank you again to Monika, and Devorah and Zev and their families for allowing me to be there. Here are a few of my absolute favorites from the day.