It's my favorite day of the week - again!

This Mitzvah Monday features Jack and his fun-loving family, starting with the Friday night Shabbat dinner. Traditionally, this dinner is hosted by the grandparents and is a time for close family and friends to come together to celebrate the momentous weekend in a relaxed and intimate way. Jack's Shabbat dinner was no exception! The evening was hosted at the Mpls Photo Center, a local gallery and workspace owned by Jack's great aunt and uncle. Everyone pitched in to help decorate and cook and the result was a stunningly simple atmosphere. A fun twist: Jack's mom Jennifer celebrated her birthday on Friday night, an occasion not overlooked at all, but yet announced in my most favorite way - DONUTS! All the details were classic and fun, a great entrance into the weekend, themed as Jack's Glow Carnival :) 

Stay tuned this week for the rest of Jack's Bar Mitzvah - next up: the service and luncheon at Temple Israel!

xoxo,
Sydnee 

Happy Mitzvah Monday, friends! 

I'm doing cartwheels with fingers crossed today as I just sent out a gold-glittery newsletter to my favorite bar + bat mitzvah clients (and some new friends too), announcing that I'm currently booking 2015-2016 mitzvahs! YAY! 

Over the last year or two, I have found my heart and my passion in these life events for reasons I've told you a thousand times before: they're oodles of fun, with a beautiful mix of both tradition and modern aspects and the families? They make my heart SOAR! 

Beyond the event, the most fulfilling part of the process is the album. Several families have chosen this option over the last year and they are INCREDIBLE!

Here's Joely looking through her two books for the first time and this was such a special moment for me. Joely's heart is so sweet and giving - she kept saying "thank you" and I couldn't help but beam! Because as much as she was grateful to me for creating these memories for her, I'm grateful to her and her family for picking me to tell her story. 

The album option is a 10x10 art book with matte pages and custom cover options. And the best part? They're hand delivered by yours truly! And always come with a side of dark chocolate gold-foil hearts, of course :)

Contact me for bar + bat mitzvah pricing - I'd so love to meet you! And in case you need more convincing, read more HERE + HERE :)

xoxo,
Sydnee 

 

I attended a workshop last week focused on branding and business for creatives. It was one of those things I looked forward to for a while, had high hopes for and went in with my head held high. This world of glitter hearts and love and shiny amazing things that I found myself in two years ago has been such a blessing, but it's a place that I've suddenly found not fitting quite right. Like those awesome pants you buy on sale that fit perfectly except for the length or the size of the pockets. Those small details that make you question the whole. 

You see, I just turned 29. Well, I guess I've been 29 for just 30 days now and holy cats, does it feel uncomfortable. 29 is so close to 30 and no, it's not that 30 scares me. I'm actually hoping to welcome 30 with arms wide open. It's that this number represents a sort of passage, a kind of growth. Personally, professionally, in all the ways that matter most. 

At this workshop, and actually, in most of my daily life, I find pride and accomplishment in being the age I am and what I would deem a success. This business sort of happened upon me seven+ years ago and I can easily say I found myself in creating these images that make people so so happy. I went from being that awkward kid in high school to being this business woman who's slowly / quickly sometimes making a name for herself in this industry.

When I made the decision only a short two years ago that bar + bat mitzvahs are the events I want to photograph for the rest of my life, it was like someone turned on the light in my heart. Documenting these events is like looking into one of those fortune-teller globes; these kids hold so much promise. I could be in the midst of future presidents, doctors, lawyers, teachers who are going to impact other kids forever. Their future is unknown and SO SO bright. And for as much as I hope the world for them, I also realize who I was always meant to be when I'm in the midst of them, dancing and eating cupcakes and wearing glowsticks on their heads. Feeling the beat of the music and laughing and making memories with their friends. 

On Tuesday, I thought I had it all together. 

At day's end on Tuesday? Total mess. [Slight disclaimer: my mess came in the form of a call home to Mom, reassurance and a slight kick in the pants. See also: Ben & Jerry's pint of strawberry cheesecake]

After the ice cream was gone, I realized something quite remarkable: I had already known I needed to make a change. But that tug in my gold-glitter heart became an unavoidable pull. For as much as I'm growing more every day into who I'm meant to be, these kids are too. The word is spreading and the events get bigger and bigger. I photographed 5 past clients for their senior portraits this year. These kids are growing up! (Insert sobbing / proud me here)

It's time for this cute gold glitter heart-filled world to grow up a bit and change into something a bit more sophisticated, a bit more classic but still 110% me. 

I want to assure you I'm not going anywhere. I'll still be blogging, still be working (oh goodness, the number of families I'll meet this month is AMAZING!) and come early 2015, I'll be a little bit older and a little bit more me :) I say this always and I never want to not say it: your trust and faith in me to continue doing this work pushes me to do even better every time. When your business is YOU, there are decisions you can make that are both personal and professional. This brand refresh is both of those intertwined. And for the record? I know you're all going to love it even more than you love this look + feel. 

As always, you all rock my world. The amount of people I connected with yesterday at a bar + bat mitzvah event fair was astounding - I wanted to hug all of you! I hugged a few, passed out more chocolates and am crossing fingers they call to book me into 2016. The families who have booked for this fall's mini session dates? You make my heart sing. This business feels like a team effort much of the time - I'm putting myself and my work out into the world; you're receiving it with open arms and spreading the love.

Thank you. I'm forever indebted and in love with each and every one of you.

xoxo,
Sydnee 

Pizza + Ice Cream + Dancing? COUNT ME IN! I absolutely loved every minute of Jonah's Bar Mitzvah party!

Intermedia Arts was the perfect space for this theater / stage-loving guy to celebrate his big day. Big River Pizza was making pies in their oven out on the parking lot, Izzy's was dishing up multiple flavors (be still my gold glitter heart!) and Level 11 was getting EVERYONE on the dance floor or making their own creations at the virtual graffitti wall. The party was so fun, everyone forgot about the power outage and the trees blocking the roads! 

One of my favorite moments of this party was the Horah - watching Jonah just soak in the day and surrounded by everyone he loves so much. Plus later, his dad Andy, brother Josh and he got on the mikes and sung their rendition of "Who Let the Dogs Out." I had to leave after that, but I knew the party wouldn't get any better than what it was in that moment. You guys have pipes!

I loved working with the Harrisons for Jonah's special day and am literally counting the hours until Joshua's Bar Mitzvah in a few years... 2016/7 come quickly!

xoxo,
Sydnee

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Vendor Love!

Venue: Intermedia Arts
Pizza: Big River Pizza
Ice Cream: Izzys
DJ / Entertainment: Level 11 

Happy (belated) Mitzvah Monday, friends! This amazing spring weather in Minneapolis is making that summer itch even stronger! Last June, I had the honor of working with my very first mitzvah family ever - the Harrisons! Sophia was my first ever Bat Mitzvah client in 2009 and it's been a wild ride since, so when Norah contacted me about Jonah's upcoming Bar Mitzvah, I did about 3857 cartwheels of joy!!

(Side note: I first met this family back in about 2005-2006 when I was working at a summer camp, assisting my photography professor Cate, teaching kids about pinhole cameras and the darkroom. Sophia and Jonah were two of the kids we taught!)

June came and with it, one of the biggest storms of the last decade! Trees were down all across the metro and with it, the power too. Not even Temple Israel was spared! The staff there was FABULOUS in their quick-thinking skills and lit candles all over the synagogue. When I saw Jonah for the first time, he put up his hands and said, "well! I said I wanted my Bar Mitzvah to be memorable!"

Jonah shared his Bar Mitzvah with his friend Sasha - the two of them were adorable together! The service was stunning - candles and bright sunbeams shining through the windows helped with the lighting factor and for the first time ever, photographers were allowed on the main floor to photograph. I count this as a career highlight, for sure! 

The Kiddish luncheon brought another set of challenges. Held in the basement at Temple, there were candles everywhere and friends and family actually asked me to continue taking photos with my flash so they could see what they were eating! Jonah's brother Joshua was running around showcasing the centerpieces with a flashlight, guests were using their cell phones as lights - hilarious!

Although his day brought a few challenges, Jonah totally rose above everything and did an amazing job. So proud of this kid, ahem, young man :) It didn't matter that the lights were out - Jonah's bright personality shown even brighter!

Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2: the party!!

xoxo,
Sydnee 

Day 2 of Luis' Bar Mitzvah is here!

When I asked Sandra to describe her son, she said two words: sports and dancing. I totally understood the sports part, but I honestly have never met a 13 year old boy who can cut it up on the dancefloor like Luis. Honestly, I want lessons! And then Sandra showed me the YouTube video invitation in which he RAPS in HEBREW the details for his party, all in front of the backdrop of Target Field and downtown Minneapolis. I couldn't wait to celebrate and party with Luis! 

Imagine a stunning sports-themed party coordinated by the fabulous ladies over at Amy Zaroff Events + Design, salsa music and teen pop songs all mixed by Level 11 and set all of that into the gorgeous space at Oak Ridge Country Club. Seriously, this was a party not to be missed. I can't decide which part I loved more (the ice cream! the lights! the props!) and after that night, I put "name spelled out in gold balloons" on my bucket list. 

Best part? The look on Luis' face when, in the middle of his slideshow, Joe Mauer himself gave Luis a special "mazel tov!" It was an amazing moment and I loved watching how happy Sandra was when the surprise was finally revealed!

The final event of the weekend was a brunch held at the Fele home. Luis himself had to leave the party early to WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP basketball game with his team - the guy never stops! Despite all the snow we got that morning, cars filled with family members pulled up in droves. Instantly, the house was filled with laughter and warmth AND more amazing food - the breakfast burritos! The chilaquiles! The bourbon french toast! Upon leaving the brunch, Isaac and Sandra even sent me home with leftovers! I'm still drooling over that - I could get used to this :) 

My friend Luis came along to the party to do a video for the Fele family and he did not disappoint. I loved reliving the night through this VIDEO

Luis' Bar Mitzvah from Luis Rodriguez on Vimeo.

 

xoxo,
Sydnee 

2014 is here and Mitzvah Monday is back! 

I've been bursting at the seams to share this amazing event with you - Luis' Bar Mitzvah! When his mom Sandra met with me in the dead of winter in 2012, it felt like December 7 2013 would never come. But it came and with it, one of the most remarkable families I've ever met. 

When I decided to focus my business to photographing bar + bat mitzvahs and families, I hoped with every ounce of my gold glitter heart that every family I worked with would shine bright and be filled with this energy that makes my "job" so easy. And so far? It's come true. And the "Fele Family" is no exception!

Luis is destined for greatness, whether that's on the basketball court, the baseball diamond or in front of an audience. This kid is one in a million and I'm so blessed for having met him. I never saw him not smiling, beaming or totally loving life. And upon meeting his grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and family friends, it was clear that this family thrives on love. The love they show for each other is clearly visible in these images - and for the three days we spent together, I felt like one of the family. 

We photographed the family portraits at Beth-El earlier in the week and on Friday night, I met this multi-generational family at the Marriott West for a Shabbat dinner. The sand ceremony represented this bringing together of all generations, all branches of their tree - and it couldn't have been more beautiful watching Luis thank each and every person in the room for their place in his life. 

I've spent a lot of time with these images and when I look at them, I can hear the laughter, the excitement, the salsa music, the singing and the Spanish phrases that probably had a lot to do with love and pride for being a part of such a close-knit group. 

To Isaac, Sandra, Alex and Luis: I will photograph your family until the end of time if you feed me more chilaquiles, bourbon french toast and teach me Spanish! Thank you for letting me into your lives - you've stolen my heart and I am so grateful.

ps. Because this weekend of events was so FABULOUS, part 2 will be coming to the blog TOMORROW!

Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2: party + brunch!

xoxo,
Sydnee 

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Vendor Information
Synagogue: Beth-El
Shabbat Dinner Location: Marriott West
Event Planner: Amy Zaroff Events + Design