The Raleigh Hotel and Resort ? Far from the Carolinas, folks, this is in Fallsburg, NY – still the  old ‘Catskills,’ Sullivan County – probably part of what was once well known as the ‘Borscht Belt.’

DirtyDancingSome still think of “Dirty Dancing” (would you believe I’ve never seen it all the way through?) others, these days, probably think of a Racino at the Monticello racetrack or the new Resorts World Casino nearby. I confess, I’ve seen both of those all the way through, but that’s got nothing to do with the reunion I photographed one Friday afternoon before Shabbat.

Now, sundown isn’t typically something I worry about too much. Most events, particularly those that span daylight and nighttime hours, come in all shapes and sizes. But when photographing a gathering of over 100 orthodox, there’s about a 24-hour period from late Friday to late Saturday when nobody’s conducting business. Get the picture?

I’ve never been a very religious sort, but I respect those who are and understand the urgency. You’ve got to get to where you going and shut off the car well before sunset – and in this case, in time to pose for a large group photo, all before religious services.

Another sense of urgency is created when working with about 40 children under the age of 5 plus their parents and grandparents. You don’t get too many chances which this age group. Though I though they were pretty-darned cooperative.

So – how do you work with a group this size? First, you hope the adults will listen. Children tend to respond to their parents and grandparents before the fellow with the camera – so you have to compete a little. Lots of cooks in this kitchen. Lots of folks offering ‘directions.’

Incredibly, the squeaky pet toy I carry in my camera bag works for even large groups of kids – who respond to the strange sound.

I learned this strategy during my years photographing a very different demographic — those coming to sit on a big guy’s lap (he was dressed in red). Back then I had a squeaky pelican. It was kind of bulky, but I miss it. The ice cream bar (that fits better in my bag) lacks the visual appeal.

Here I am in my old long-hair days in a shot from the Schenectady Gazette – Photo by a staff photographer with the newspaper.

I used to tell big kids at the mall, “you keep your eyes on the camera. I’ll get the little one to look where we need them to.”

Back to present day: This is all a little bit complicated without a bullhorn (did I mention – something like 130 people in the main group portrait) but we got it done.

Kudos to one of the organizers for accepting my professional opinion on where to set up – and not wanting a ‘generic’ interior for a backdrop.

The Raleigh Hotel and Resort in Fallsburg is an impressive spot. In addition to the hotel, there seem to be townhouses/condos, ball fields, playground, a massive ballroom, steakhouse and more – and the upgrades keep on coming.

A family I photographed about 15 months earlier remembered and referred me – much appreciated.

Oh, where are the photos? At the family’s request, only the family has access. This sort of security, a password-protected gallery is available to anyone that asks. Often, I reserve the right to share images for professional development – but it’s only an option.

Looking forward to the next session here, there or anywhere – Jonathan Ment Photography.

Thanks for reading. You can also find and follow/like Jonathan Ment Photography on Facebook & at and check out the broad-topic’d Ment Media Group “Business Blog.”



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