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“I’ve never shot a Bat Mitzvah before” I told Cindi as she sat in my office telling me about Anne’s upcoming Bat Mitzvah.  She nodded her head, smiled, and said “that’s okay”.

“I don’t really know all the terms for things, I’ll be asking a lot of questions so I can plan as much as possible”.

“Don’t worry, I can teach you.”

As I drew up a contract for Anne’s pictures I knew that I was going to give Cindi (and husband Joel) the most phenomenal pictures that I could create for them of Anne’s Bat Mitzvah… if only because that I was so thankful that Cindi was going to take a chance on me.

What I didn’t realize was that the gift of knowing the Freeman family would be one of the most amazing gifts would receive in 2011.  As much as I was enjoying getting to know Cindi, I was enjoying getting to know Anne just as much (and later I would get to know big sister Samantha, when I did her Senior Portraits).

Anne is a brilliant student at a local private school.  BRILLIANT . . . not just in the ‘she is really smart’ sense. . . I mean when she smiles she actually lights up a room.  And it is not just the room she is lighting up . . . it is the world.   Anne is already making her mark in a big way — she might have caught the travel bug on her family travels abroad . . . but now she is applying, interviewing, and preparing to study abroad in Japan later this year.  JAPAN, PEOPLE!

As for Anne’s Bat Mitzvah, well, I’m sorry to tell you this, but there is no way you ever went to such a crazy fun party when you were 13.  Se7en has a unique BoHo vibe – with large draperies and warm low lighting.  Each curtain you pull back reveals a new visual experience . . . as a photographer it is like unwrapping present after present after present.  And the Freeman’s had something going on in every one of them.

The jazz trio (The Michael Pelz-Sherman Trio) greeted adult guests in the salon whose conversation buzzed and hummed right along with the deep sounds of the bass.  Family members and friends caught up nearby in a room full of overstuffed couches and candlelight ambiance.

The kids took off downstairs for Wii games, signature (virgin) cocktails at the bar . . . (there was cotton candy in those drinks y’all!), swinging in the iron basket chairs along the walls and flittering across the gorgeous dark wood floors.

The best was still to come.

When the double doors were pulled open to the dinner reception, revealing the floor to ceiling elegance of a beautifully lit, immaculately decorated reception by Triangle Catering the response was an audible ::gasp::.  Teenagers and adults alike sucked the air out of the room, walking in slowly and taking it all in.  Oh and the food y’all . . . the FOOD.

With bellies full of make your own waffles and pasta and stir fry . . . (for the kids) and more “grown up” entres for the adults everyone leaned back in their chairs and put their attention on Anne’s heartfelt candle lighting ceremony.  With a little, personal speech for important people in Anne’s world, each person stood as they were called and lit a candle.

Like a singer who steps up to the microphone . . . each candle lit brought an emotional focus to the reason we were celebrating.  It reminded me of the intense focus of the ceremony at Temple Beth Or from earlier that morning.

Cindi’s lifelong best friend (and much beloved by Anne) “Aunt” Hellene had a candle all to herself – a small celebration of the huge place she holds in both their hearts.


Then we partied y’all.  We.  Partied.  There were glitter hats and glow sticks and make your own candy apples.  Parents and teenagers alike danced to Beyonce and executed a flawless Cha Cha slide.   Camera held high above the crowd, I found myself caught up in the energy of being 13 again.  Thanks to DJ Aaron with Anything Music NC  for keeping the tunes pumpin’.

As the party broke up – – – I took a deep breath and considered the day.  What a wonderful gift the Freeman’s had given me in letting me be a part of Anne’s Bat Mitzvah.  Now, several months later, the pictures are finished and the album is masterfully created and sitting proudly at The Freeman’s house.  Maybe that is why I’ve had a hard time writing this post before now – – – because honestly I am a little sad that it is over.