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Something New – A Bris!

Katya nurses little Ilan before the Bris.

Katya nurses little Ilan before the Bris.

March 19, 2009

When Katya and Arthur called to ask if I could photograph their newborn son’s Bris, like most guys I winced a bit. A Bris, or “Brit Milah” is the Jewish ceremony of circumcision. I have never photographed this type ceremony before, nor had I ever even seen it performed.

Katya and Arthur are both photographers themselves, so pictures of important moments in their lives are a priority for them. Particularly important moments involving their brand new first child.

Like me, they love storytelling, documentary photography. It is always very flattering when other photographers ask me to photograph sacred moments in their lives. It does come with a certain amount of expectation and pressure, but what higher compliment can one photographer give to another than inviting you to record such moving events of profound personal significance.

Typically a Bris takes place 8 days after the birth of a male child. It is performed in the home by a religious person known as a “mohel”. The ceremony takes place in the presence of friends and family and is followed by a meal. Some may wonder how a procedure like this can be performed outside a hospital or pediatrician’s office, but after witnessing the event I can think of no better venue. I am reminded of my own children undergoing this procedure in the hospital nursery, alone except for the doctor and nurse. Little Ilan, the name chosen for him by Katya and Arthur and given to him during this ceremony, underwent this meaningful rite of passage surrounded by the love and warmth of the people who care for him most.

One of the things I admire about Judaism is the importance placed on the involvement of family in all religious ceremonies.

It was a very touching and emotional event to say the least.


Getting dressed after one last diaper change.

Arthur couldn

Arthur can't keep his eyes off his young son.




Plenty of doting grandparents.


Arthur's parents.


Katya's mom.


Katya (R) and her sister.


One last bit of quiet time.


The new family.


I love this quiet little exchange.


One of my favorite images.


The time has come. Arthur takes the baby downstairs.


Emotional moments for the family as the mohel works quickly. It's over in seconds.


The family prays together after the circumcision is performed.


The mohel provides a comforting finger to suckle.


Katya and Arthur embrace as the mohel says a last prayer.



  • March 27, 2009 - 5:06 pm

    Krystal Radlinski - Oh, these are just so very tender and well done. It is a nice glimpse into a moment I otherwise would have not understood.

  • March 27, 2009 - 5:43 pm

    Tom Ericsson - . A sweet little someone to follow in your footsteps… A new little love to fill your heart….
    My congratulations on the new arrival.

    Great photos! Amazing moments!

  • March 28, 2009 - 7:24 am

    Mitch Wong Ho - Gorgeous. PJ photography at it’s finest. Congratulations, Katya & Arthur…”Raisin” is gorgeous! Well captured, Greg.

  • March 28, 2009 - 8:44 am

    Allison Britton - Greg these are beautiful there is no other words for them. I love the emotion! Congrats Arthur and Katya I have been waiting to see this little guy! He is beyond handsome. He is perfect!

  • March 28, 2009 - 8:53 am

    Kerry Gastley - Greg – Katya and Arthur – these are gorgeous!! I am so tickled for you guys!!

  • March 28, 2009 - 9:18 am

    Stephanie Zettl - Beautiful work Greg. Katya & Arthur are two of my favorite people. You captured them beautifully!

  • March 28, 2009 - 10:26 am

    jamie - Greg… these photos are terrific, heart-warming, and intensely emotional. Katya and Arthur… freaking congratulations!!

  • March 28, 2009 - 10:27 am

    Marie Renner Powell - These are absolutely beautiful and so well done, as always. Congratulations to Katya & Arthur!

  • March 28, 2009 - 10:28 am

    Jay McMichael - beautiful work Greg,
    as always you capture the moment like no other

  • March 28, 2009 - 11:11 am

    ann curry - deeply touching images..we can see you shot them with love.

  • March 28, 2009 - 11:17 am

    Joe Milton - Beautiful, just beautiful. Congratulations to little Ilan!

  • March 28, 2009 - 11:26 am

    David Pullum - Lovely Images Greg, really nice.

  • March 28, 2009 - 11:53 am

    Logan - What a great story you told Greg!

  • March 28, 2009 - 12:06 pm

    Charlotte Geary - Truly beautiful, Greg. I love your gentle approach, and the warm, tender emotion. They will cherish these photos.

  • March 28, 2009 - 2:40 pm

    Stephen - Wow, these are amazing Greg.

  • March 28, 2009 - 9:27 pm

    David Murray - I have never witness this before. Such a nice documentation Greg. Really loved it. Quite different.

  • March 28, 2009 - 10:34 pm

    Vivian Ronay - hey Greg, nice images!! I shot a not so prayerful/less religious bris a few years back…Was shooting with a flash and decided in the interests of the kid not to shoot when the knife was near. Didn’t want to cause a slip of the stroke, so to speak. All the men in the room were watching with their hands clasped together in front of their groins…was pretty funny.

  • March 28, 2009 - 11:04 pm

    greg - Thanks for all the notes guys. I really appreciate everyone stopping by and taking the time to post.

  • March 29, 2009 - 11:56 am

    Jerry Yurow - Beautiful pictures! A bit of inside information: the mohel not only gave his finger to Ilan to suckle, but he put an Ilan size dose of wine on his finger to soothe him.

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