Why Mitzvahs, Why Now?

 I wore a white frilly dress and my grandfather’s tallit (prayer shawl.) My hair was permed and my braces had recently been taken off for the event. I felt strong and filled with pride. I was continuing my family’s tradition and it meant something to me. 

susannah ludwig mitzvah.jpg

I remember so clearly what it felt like to stand up in front of my friends and family and tell them about how I wanted to contribute to the world and about how the experience of preparing for the special day had changed my perspective. I felt it then and looking back, I still feel that now.

The decision for us to make Mitzvah Videos at Portraits That Move may seem like a bit of a left turn, since so much of what we do is about capturing the average day in the life of kids and their families. It actually isn’t and here’s why.

To me, life is all about the following truths: family, closeness, celebration, tradition, joy and gratitude. Every day that we create videos for Portraits that Move, I have these truths in mind. Making mitzvah videos allows us to create something that is about all of them at one time.

susannah ludwig mitzvahs.jpg

Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are celebrations with family. They are filled with joy and tradition.  I see a wonderful opportunity to enrich the experience that a family is having by giving them the chance to document their own feelings about the process. This is super empowering for kids and for parents. The result is something that they have to share with their guests and to look at and remember forever.

The empowerment of going through a mitzvah process cannot be underestimated. It can be a defining moment for a child. We want to be part of that - to document that shift and to celebrate, celebrate, celebrate. Let’s celebrate together.

Celebrating 5 Moments that Changed Us

Today, we’re recapping our 5 Moments in 5 Days anniversary celebration. It was hard for us to pick only five moments, because all of the moments we have created, documented and celebrated over the last five years have filled us with joy.

Each of the examples that we chose focuses on our mission of documenting the every day moments that matter to families. They demonstrate how we make and honor history, milestones, legacy and new beginnings every day,. This is exactly what families do, no matter their shape, size, or circumstances. We hope that you enjoy reliving these moments as much as we do, and we are grateful that you continue to share and celebrate your moments with us.

When the Little Moments Add up to the Story of Childhood for Two Siblings

We love working with families like this one year after year. This family hired us to create their first video the year Portraits that Move launched, and we have been documenting their lives ever since. What a wonderful way to preserve the moments that make up a family’s history, as those moments unfold.

Here's a look at the first film we created for them

And here is the most recent film..


Much gratitude to this family who keeps us smiling year after year!

Bringing Together Years of Small Moments for one Big Mitzvah Montage

All of these moments make up the stories of our lives. Mitzvahs provide the perfect opportunity to celebrate that life as it is growing and changing.

In this Mitzvah Montage, we take time to look back on these moments, to celebrate them, and to share them with friends and family who come together to support and honor a child during a milestone moment.

Capturing 3 Generations in One Film

What an amazing opportunity it was to create a film that brought the lives of three generations of one family together in celebration and joy.


As filmmakers, when you work with multiple generations of the same family, you are able to see the large and small ways that each individual’s experiences, observations, and personalities come together to create a complete, rich story of a family.

From the great grandparent down to the newest family member, we are able to see how history, tradition and love come together to create a story that is entirely unique to them, and that, at the same time, resonates with us all.

Meeting Baby, Meeting the World

From the eldest generations to the newest, we delight in bringing moments to life on film. Our Baby Videos are precious, especially when we are able to captured firsts - like baby’s first time touching snow - on video. So much more than a set of infant or baby photos, these moving portraits give us the sights and sounds of a baby. And they allow parents to talk about what it is like in those first few months in an honest, open, and joyful way.


It is often said because it is so true, time moves more quickly than we can imagine. And as much as we are convinced we will remember every detail of our baby’s first months and years, we don’t. They are gone in a flash, and it is so gratifying to have something to look back on to remember exactly how it looked, how it felt, what it sounded like when there was a new baby in your home.

Celebrating Healing

One of the most profoundly gratifying and joyful experiences we have is creating videos for our Portraits that Heal project. In these videos, we honor and celebrate the lives of children who live with chronic, life threatening illnesses.


In addition to demonstrating the resiliency, tenacity, and hope that these children and their families embody every day, our Portraits that Heal videos also remind us, and those who watch them, about the beauty, simplicity and joy of living every day. We are inspired and amazed by these children and we are deeply honored to be able to preserve their lives and their words on film..

Share Your Joy with Us

Contact Portraits that Move to book a video celebrating your family’s daily life, and the history you are making.

2019 Word of the Year - Celebrate!

Do you choose a word of the year every new year? We are big fans of this practice. It helps us focus on a guiding principle that leads to our goals and reminds us to stay grounded in what matters as we start the new year.

Looking at all the opportunities and adventures that lie ahead in 2019, we know that this year at Portraits that Move, what we want to do most, is celebrate!

celebrate portraits that move videos.png

Celebrate Moments

Every moment matters, and every moment is worth celebrating. We don't know how many years we get in this life, or what may come our way. What we do know is that every year, and every day, is made up of moments small and large that connect us to each other, that are filled with joy, that remind us of gratitude.

celebrate baby videos portraits that move.jpg

This year will be filled with moments that make us smile and moments that lead to discoveries, for our children and for ourselves. We’ll have unexpected moments with our children that we look back on and realize were some of the most treasured experiences of our lives, even if those moments are small and simple.

All of this is worth celebrating. It's why we create our films for families, so that the can see and celebrate who they are right now. And so they have something to look back on to celebrate how they became who they are.

Celebrate Milestones

There is nothing like a milestone to ignite celebration, and the joy that parents feel watching their children grow, change, and thrive in the world. That's one of the reasons we love creating Mitzvah videos for families.

Our Mitzvah videos allow families to add a truly special element to a milestone day filled with joy, enthusiasm, and not a small amount of nostalgia (how often we hear from Mitzvah moms and dads that they can't believe how fast the time goes!).

celebrate bar mitzvah video portraits that move.jpg

The thing about celebrating is that it is so much more than the exuberance of a party, just like your child's Bar/Bat Mitzvah is about so much more than all of the perfect party details and exciting extras you have planned for your child and their friends. To truly celebrate our families, ourselves, our lives, is to look at life in all of its dimensions, the small moments and the milestone moments, and to realize how grateful we are for the life we have, for the joy and the challenges that fill our days.

Because time really does go too fast, and if we don't stop to celebrate who we are, where we have been, and where we are going, we will have missed out on the chance to celebrate how sweet and beautiful all of this is.

Celebrate Every Day

Clients, friends, family, that's our wish for you this new year. Find a way to celebrate each other, to celebrate with each other, every day.

We guarantee you will have better days because of it. And we can't wait to celebrate them with you!

Resolution vs. Intention: Choosing Joy and Gratitude

There is an energy to this time of year, when we sit down and list what we want to do and how we want to be. We welcome the changes that a new year brings.  We write down our goals, we make plans to achieve them, we may even resolve to be more present, to savor the moment.

This year, at Portraits that Move, we are taking a slightly different approach to the coming year.  Rather than list out resolutions, ways we want to be different, things we want to change about ourselves or our circumstances, we are choosing to focus on intention.  All of us at Portraits that Move are committing to living and working and observing with intention.  Rather than a resolution to be more, to do more, to change this or that in a quest for a goal, this year, we are listening to that voice that reminds us to stop, to look at our life, at our work and at our goals and to determine how they align with our intention to find joy and to be grateful.

filmmaking family

We are lucky because doing so is exactly how we live out the Portraits that Move mission through the work we do as filmmakers every day.  We get to find and celebrate joy and gratitude every time we document the lives of families, and we have the unique privilege of being able to reflect that joy and gratitude back to them when we deliver their Portrait Films. 

This year, our team will work with all kinds of families.  For each of them, the coming days and months will take twists and turns.  In what seems like a moment, their children will grow, change, discover and surprise them.  In those moments - the unexpected, the everyday and the in between - they will discover joy and gratitude, and we will help them to witness it, and to preserve it. 

new years resolution vs intention

To you, the families we have grown with, and the new families we will meet this year, as you set your goals and state your resolutions, try to remember the peace and togetherness you found in the holiday season, or the peace and togetherness that you may have found at more unexpected, unplanned moments throughout the last year.  Like all of us, you are busy, every day, building your lives and your memories.

Our wish for you, our intention for, and our promise to you in the new year, is that you choose joy and that you choose gratitude through all of the beautiful, messy, ordinary and chaotic days this new year has in store.

The Joy of Watching Our Children Grow

This year we have had the great blessing of working with some of our Portraits that Move families for the third year in a row. It is an incredible experience and all that I hoped it would be when I started Portraits That Move.

It is fantastic to talk to our children about what moves them, inspires them and motivates them. I love hearing about all of their feelings and observing how their interests and passions change from year to year. I am able to see the incremental change in a way that you as their parent may not always recognize. I think it is also fun for the kids. They are excited to tell me things - to show me how they have grown.

I am a person that has a heightened sense of the passage of time. As a result of the health challenges that I have had, I have always had an intense awareness of the fragility of life and the quick passage of time.  I want to preserve moments in time for you, for your family and for your children’s children.

The families that work with us year after year love having a personal catalog of our work. They enjoy both the process and the final family videos. I feel grateful for the trust they extend to me to listen to and connect with their children. I am grateful to parents for inviting me to capture the passage of time, to give the gift of time back to them, and to their children.  

The work we do, creating custom documentary quality videos of families, is a gift to each of us as Portraits that Move filmmakers. As we enter into the holiday season, I look forward to giving that gift to all of you. 

Getting Back on the Bike and a New School Year

While on my summer vacation, I decided to do something I had not done in over twenty years. I rode a bicycle.

I am not sure why I ever stopped riding, I loved it as a kid and often rode throughout my suburban neighborhood. It became one of those things where, the longer I went without doing it, the more fearful I became. I am not clear on what I was afraid of exactly. It was not an active pervasive fear, more like something I just did not think of doing.

back to school bike ride

In any case, I LOVED IT!!!!  The joy I felt in the freedom of coasting with the wind in my hair was immense. I felt like a ten-year-old again. It made me want to buy a bike and to spend more time feeling that freedom. I giggled and the satisfaction of overcoming my worries was powerful.

It also got me thinking about other fears that are subtle. And transitions. This time of year there are plenty of both for our children and for us. Our children may have anxieties about new grades, homework and routines. And if we are being honest, we likely have our own anxieties. How will it all go? Will the new schedule work?  Will the re-connection with friends be smooth? Perhaps we have anxieties about our children growing up too fast. I certainly do.

bike path back to school

We need to push through these fears, to ignore them and release them. We need to get back on our own bikes of freedom and enjoy the moment. Be present, share in the joy, be fearless. It will be worth it for them and for us.

I wish you all immense ease with the beginnings and transitions of this academic year. And if you need me, I’ll be on the bike path giggling with my son. 

"I Wish I Had a Library of Videos Like These" - A Portraits that Move Mom on Her Video Celebrating 4 Generations

We sat down with mom of two Michelle Roos to talk about the portrait video we made in honor of her grandfather's 100th birthday, celebrated this year on Passover.  Since we delivered her family video just two days ago, Michelle and her mom have already watched it twenty times, and have eagerly shared it with their loved ones and friends.

Michelle talks about joy, love, loss, legacy and pride as she describes why this video, and the Portraits that Move filming process, was such a moving experience for her.  Thank you, Michelle, for sharing your family and your story with us. 

What struck you most when you first watched the video? 

The video captured my grandfather's personality perfectly.  He's just the happiest guy in the world - and that comes across beautifully in the video.

portraits that move grandparent video

How did the Portraits that Move filming experience compare to your expectations?

We all had so much fun during the filming.  It brought out the best in the kids and our whole family.  We felt very special and cared for and so grateful. 

How important to you was it that the video documented the family celebrating not only your grandfather's 100th birthday, but also celebrating Passover together?

I wanted to capture thus magical moment where my Grandpa's 100th birthday, Passover, and my kids' full blown love of Judaism and family, were all colliding - and you got all of those elements in the video. 

family legacy video 100th birthday

What about the experience (from filming to watching the final portrait video) stands out to you the most?

My mom and I have watched the film 20 times each at this point.  We laugh and cry and feel proud of my kids and so, so grateful for my grandpa and his love of life.  We've had a bittersweet 10 years as a family.  My grandparents aged a lot, my dad was diagnosed with early on-set dementia and after 9 years, died.  I met my husband and had two beautiful boys, my mom got and recovered from cancer... and we're just all getting back on our feet. 

video gifts grandparent gift ideas portraits that move review

I wish I had a library of videos like these - of my dad when he was well, of my grandma when she was well, of the boys in all of their precious and fleeting stages of development.. it's so special to have this moment captured - thank you!

A Baby Announcement!

Things are going well here at Portraits that Move and so much of that is because of all of you who have shared your joy and family moments with us.  Every day, we get to experience the beauty of families growing, celebrating, changing and connecting with each other.

In these two years of speaking with parents and children as they grow and change, what has become clear to me is how fast time goes. I feel it intensely and with urgency.  In creating films of older children I became aware that the phase of life in which the passing of time feels most rapid - the most difficult to pause and to cherish - is babyhood. 

 

With this in mind, we are thrilled to announce that we are now creating videos of babies!  Check out our first video of the sweet baby Luca above. 

We are excited by the challenge of creating mini documentary style videos of infants, babies and toddlers. We want to give parents a time capsule experience that complements the still photographs they are already getting in order to capture all of the special moments of having an infant. 

Documenting baby's sounds and sights, parents' first impressions and stories of the early days of parenthood with your baby on video allows you to follow the advice that seems all too hard to apply when you're in the trenches - stop and enjoy the moments, the days are long but the years are short, you'll be amazed by how much you forget when it all feels like it's going so fast.

Learn more about creating a baby video with Portraits that Move.

Name *
Name

Take a Break - Enjoying and Planning Vacation Time with Kids

It's vacation week for many families here in New York City.  Some of us are staying local and the kids are heading to playdates and activities, others are visiting family and flying to warmer climates.  Any time we escape our typical routines the days can have a special magic. Especially, when we take a little extra time to listen, to share our stories and to enjoy what makes each one of our children - and our families - so unique.

restful vacation staycation memories

At Portraits that Move, we encourage families to take vacations together, with grandparents and siblings, and to remember, whether traveling or trying out a staycation, to disconnect from stress and to connect with our kids.  Any time away from the daily grind, whether a week or a day, is time to create memories large and small, and to give our kids the space they need to talk, to listen, to share, and to love.

vacation package custom family vacation films

This is also the time of year for summer vacation planning.  At Portraits that Move we are thrilled to offer our Vacation Video Package again this year.  This is perfect for families who want to document the beauty of their vacations. From the destination itself to the experiences they inspire, we are able to come along and document it all for you to come back to and enjoy for years to come, during the busy times when we need to remember the joy we find together.

Why We Love February

February is a special time of year here at Portraits that Move.  We are busy creating Valentine video gifts and listening to kids talk about love.  They share what love means to them, who they love and why, and what their own special plans are for celebrating and sharing love.

That's one of the beautiful things about creating documentary style short films for families.  We have the privilege - and the responsibility - of helping kids communicate their love and joy to the people they love the most.

And we get to celebrate right along with all of you.  Through every film shoot, every hour in the editing room, and all of our conversations with kids and parents, we are living and sharing love and joy.

As we head into Valentine's Day, know that we love every one of you - our clients, friends and readers.  And we are so grateful to help you spread the love today and always.

Happy Valentines Day! 


Week of Giving - Portaits that Heal

Here at Portraits that Move, we have decided to turn #GivingTuesday into a Giving Week!  We are celebrating #GivingWeek because our team is excited by the idea of sharing what we do and helping families and children who suffer with illness to have a voice.  This week we are highlighting several organizations that serve and support children. The organization we have been working with most closely is Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a national non-profit that funds childhood cancer research.

Recently, we created a portrait video celebrating Zach, one of the Alex's Lemonade Stand Heroes.   Zach is an athlete, a kid who loves baseball, swimming and his trampoline. He loves feeding chickens on the farm where he lives with his family.  In telling Zach’s story, we have created a keepsake for his family and a portrait of his strength. We are also helping to share the mission and the work of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation to encourage and support an organization that does so much good for children and their families.

For us filmmakers, spending time with Zach was a huge gift. Zach's mother calls him a “High Octane Boy,” and we experienced his zest for life first hand. We loved the day we spent with him and hope that the experience of telling his story was healing to him.

Give Forward - #GivingWeek and Beyond with Portraits that Heal

What child do you know that you think would benefit from their story being told? How could we help further their healing by sharing their story?  Contact us about gifting a healing portrait from Portraits that Heal.

Can your organization advance its mission by helping kids share their stories? Tell us about the work you do and bring our professional, award winning filmmakers out to better help those you serve. 

In this season of giving, it is our great privilege to give hope, joy and voice through Portraits that Heal.

Brooklyn Author Mallory Kasdan: Our Kids Teach Us About Beauty, Kindness and Community

We are thrilled to have Mallory Kasdan, Brooklyn mom and author of the popular (and hilarious!) children's book Ella, join us today as a Portraits that Move guest blogger.

Mallory's post, which first appeared on her blog, shows how our children teach us curiosity, joy, gratitude and friendship every day, just by being who they are.

Read More

Joy Surprises - What Ed Sheeran Taught Me about Community

Last week I went to Ed Sheeran’s concert at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. I love his music and am always lifted and invigorated when I hear a talented performer give a live concert. At one point during the song, Sing, Ed had the whole audience participating in a round. I was in tears.

I think I cried because of his gift, I cried because I was filled with joy and was having a huge amount of fun. Most of all, though, I think I cried because it felt powerful to be part of a community creating something, even for one song. There was an intense feeling of belonging, of purpose and that the entire experience was bigger than any one person.

ed sheeran at Barclays Brooklyn


I feel that way about parenthood. We can’t do what we do alone and our children need more than just us. It goes beyond family; teachers, friends, doctors, clergy, and the people involved in our everyday communities are all part of the raising of our children. It is beautiful and part of the delicious recipe of what influences and inspires our children to be who they are.

With Portraits That Move, I am also trying to create that sense of belonging for parents. My hope is that when people see our videos, they will be able to relate, to laugh, to sometimes cry and to feel that they are not alone in the parenthood journey. I hope they can feel part of something with us. When we sit with our community, we feel wholly supported and that is deeply meaningful.  It is a true gift.

What it Means to Have an Entrepreneur Mom

I love my business. I am excited to do the work that we do. I am inspired, energetic and moved by our work, but being an entrepreneur challenges me in all kinds of ways, some positive, some negative.

There are long hours, financial concerns, marketing hurdles and other challenges. It can feel relentless. I never feel like the work is done and I always feel a sense that I should be doing more, working harder. Sometimes I feel consumed by the business and distracted by it. I worry that building a business is taking me away from the most important part of my life, my son.

mompreneur lessons for my son

I don’t really believe in worrying in general as I don’t think worry actually buys us anything, so when I start to feel that way, I try to refocus my thoughts and come up with the positive things he is learning and experiencing as the son of an entrepreneur.

Here are some of them: 

1.  He is learning that hard work can be fun. I laugh a lot while I am working. I talk about how much I love my work with Portraits that Move and my son sees that.

2.  We can make our own dreams come true and that we should be fearless about it. I had an idea for this business and I went for it. It is working out for me and he is witnessing that. I believe that taking risks is important and the decision to create this business is a risk that has been incredibly rewarding.

3.  Collaboration is necessary. My son has gotten to know many of the people that are on our team. They love him and he loves them. The collaborations feel good.  They are fruitful and nourishing.

4.  He knows about the finances of business. I am an obsessive Shark Tank watcher.  We watch many episodes together and he has a better understanding of the finances of business at 7 than I did into my early twenties. He also has gut instincts about why a business may work or not and it is exciting for me to see his clear-headed decisiveness.

5.  Life can be balanced (I hope!)  I work really hard and from my home, so while my son does witness me working all the time, I still make dinner every night, host many playdates and make it to most events at school. I feel lucky to be able to create a balance and to make my own choices about my schedule.

6.  There is always more to learn. I am constantly pushing myself to learn about new approaches to the work we do, new business ideas and innovative strategies. I never rest or feel like we have done it all or like I know it all.

7.  We can lead with our hearts and feel good about who we are. Portraits that Move is a business built on the concept of joy, of family closeness and connection.

It is not surprising that I would build this type of company as I am a heart-centered person who appreciates and celebrates all of the joy that family brings. I created a company that reflects who I am and we are thriving. I am excited to do this work every day, and my son witnesses that and participates in it.

lessons for my son from mom entrepreneur

Recently on our walk to school, I asked him about what it means to have an entrepreneur mom, and what it means, specifically, to have Portraits that Move in our lives.

He paused for a second and said,

“I feel great about it Mom.”

“Why?” I asked, “Tell me more.”  

“Well,” he said, “Portraits That Move is great because it makes US really happy.” 

It certainly does.  And it is my privilege to share that joy with each one of you.  To help your children share their voices and to create a space for the conversations we most want to have, those conversations in which we learn as much from our children as we can ever hope to teach them, by our hard work, every day.

Continue to join me on this journey building a business and sharing joy.