Philip Berryman


Bat Mitzvah

Bar/Bat Mitzvahs parties are simply a blast. Photographing one of these parties is not only a massive challenge but also a total thrill. I am always amazed when people look down on shooting Bar Mitzvahs as if it’s not cool. I figure they just haven’t shot the kinds of fun parties I’ve shot and been around the awesome kids I’ve been around. One of the best features of a Bar Mitzvah party is the moment you witness three generations leap to their feet and hit the dance floor when a favourite track comes on. To see a ninety year old grandparent grooving next to a nine year old, both grinning, laughing, twisting an turning is heart warming. It is about family and love and don’t ever think it’s a push over to successfully capture the Jewish dancing. Any seasoned Jewish party photographer will have broken lenses, snapped flash guns and bodily bruises to show for their efforts. It’s dangerous and violent on the dance floor when those songs kick in and you need to brave if you want to get up close and capture the energy of the evening. As the great photographer and one of the founders of Magnum once said:

‘If your pictures aren’t good enough you are not close enough’

There was a time when it felt like I was in the ballroom of Claridges, The Savoy or the Dorchester every Sunday photographing the Bar Mitzvah party of some cool kid. I would see the same children year after year and now I see the very same children grown up and married at new weddings in town. My gosh that makes me feel so old! I’ve seen all manner of entertainment and no expense spared as these life-changing moments are celebrated. One memorable occasion was watching Uri Geller bend spoons in the ballroom of Claridges to everyone’s amazement (I wonder if he bent them back to keep the Claridges manager happy) and in the very same ballroom I watched a man deliver a chimpanzee to the Bat Mitzvah girl (be honest Natasha, you loved that chimp!) The best part is watching these incredible children enjoy the love of their families and friends, enjoy their moment in the spotlight and amaze their families with their talent, beauty and energy. And not forgetting speeches given by such young children that leave everyone crying with laughter.

This evening was the chance for Ambre to impress friends and family with her cool choreographed dance moves and wow what a party.  I love to dance and I love to photograph people dance. Ambre’s friend’s and family traveled from Paris and I'm sure other parts of France to witness this wonderful occasion. A blaze of pink adorned the ballroom of Le Meridien Hotel on Piccadilly and there was not one single person who didn’t groove the night away.