Get To Know Award-Winning Wedding & Mitzvah Photographer – Elana Goodridge

Elana Goodridge of Elana Goodridge Photography has recently been awarded 4 WedAwards – the esteemed international contest for wedding photography. While she was awarded for her work with weddings, her portfolio also includes amazing bar & bat mitzvah images, and she loves to photograph couples and families on their special day.  We caught up with Elana to learn more about her and her work, and share some of her favorite photos including the winning ones!

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1. Tell us a little about yourself. When did you know you wanted to be a photographer and that you had the talent to be successful?

Bat Mitzvah Service - Girl & Tallis by Elana Goodridge Photography

I fell in love with photography when I was a young girl. My father gave me an old Pentax camera and I had so much joy looking at the world through its lens. Even so, the thought of pursuing a career as a photographer hadn’t entered my mind.

NYC Bride Getting Ready

I have always been drawn to faces and emotions and I was happy taking pictures for myself and for the people I’d shoot. It was after photographing a party that the response I received got me thinking about making a career change. After years in the finance industry I suddenly found myself asking what is it I really want to do. The answer had been in front of me for a long time but it was this moment that crystallized everything for me.

2. You recently received three prestigious photography awards from WedAward, a contest that recognizes photographers who combine stunning quality and style of imagery. What inspired the photos?

Engagement WedAward Winner by Elana Goodridge Photography

Each picture was built around something that had real personal meaning to the subject. In one, there’s a couple riding rental bikes. The man in the photo works for the company and it was something he really wanted to include.

Grand Central Wedding WedAward Winner

Central Park NYC Wedding WedAward WinnerAll Photographs Shot By Elana Goodridge Photography

The others are actually two traditional spots for photo shoots but in both situations we chose those spots because of their personal connection to the location.

What do you think sets them apart from so many others?

Really it’s about making the personal connection and allowing the subject to relax and experience their emotions. The location, no matter how beautiful or iconic it may be, is still a backdrop to the feelings that are on display. Since I love faces and expressions that’s always what I’m attracted to in a picture.

3. You do a lot of weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs. What’s your secret to getting amazing results?

Bat Mitzvah Girlfriends by Elana Goodridge Photography

NYC Wedding Groom LiftI’m really drawn to the emotional moments at these milestone celebrations and I tend to focus on four key areas: (1) the mitzvah child and their family or wedding couple, (2) the family and friends in attendance, (3) the celebration from a wider viewpoint and (4) the details that have been put in to express the individuality and interests of the subject.

NYC Jewish Wedding Ceremony PhotographyThe first two areas are largely comprised of getting close ups and reaction shots.

Wedding Mom & Son Dance PhotographyThe third by definition includes wider shots that show people interacting, dancing, or sharing a quiet moment while in a group.

Purple, Pink & Crystal Long Tablescape - Wedding & Mitzvah Photography

 All Photographs Shot By Elana Goodridge PhotographyPurple Floral Wedding Decorations by Elana Goodridge PhotographyThe details section is a combination of close ups and wide shots that show the details in the party environment.

4. What’s your favorite part of the event to photograph?

Bat Mitzvah Girl in Pink LightingBat Mitzvah Girl Chair Lift PhotographyBoth celebrations have times for posing and performing certain traditions like chair lifting or a prayer/blessing which are challenging but a consistent part of the experience. I find myself drawn to the unguarded moments where subjects are in the moment and forget about the camera.

New York Wedding Photographer - Couple Kissing Sepia ToneWedding Couple in Woods by Elana Goodridge Photography It’s important to record the event and that means capturing the traditional shots – poses, rituals, even table shots if the client wants them – but it’s those candid moments that make up the heart of the event. Those are the pictures you’ll look back on and relive the experience through. Those pictures are the emotional essence of the day and they’re the ones I live to take!

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5. What advice can you give to the bride and groom on their wedding day?

NYC Wedding Bridal Party at BeachThey’ll have heard it a thousand times but it bears repeating: the day goes by so fast. Have someone there to orchestrate the different events (this would be an event planner or in some cases a friend or friends who are very organized!) and review with them what you want for your celebration. Once things get underway, let go of the details and enjoy each other and your family and friends. Often things can happen that weren’t in the script – bad weather, late arrivals, kitchen or wardrobe malfunctions – but those glitches are destined to be part of your wedding day and will become part of your story so enjoy them. On this day, it’s such a great reminder to be grateful and to focus on the positives which is really the best foot forward as you begin your journey together.

6. What advice can you give to the mitzvah child and the family?

NYC Bat Mitzvah by Elana Goodridge PhotographyAll Photographs Shot By Elana Goodridge Photography

Mitzvahs really are so personal to each family and I’ve seen such a variety in how and what people celebrate. I’d suggest each family member consider what makes this day special to them. Then they can talk together and share their thoughts and shape the celebration by including those thoughts into the day. It’s such a terrific milestone to achieve and is a day that can really bring the whole family together and create a new sense of purpose and direction as they look to the future.

Thanks to Elana Goodridge for sharing her tips and insights.  You can view more of Elana’s work here.

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