Having spent the last evening sorting through over 200 pictures with one of my Bat Mitzvah clients, I thought it was a good time to give some pointers about the beloved photo montage that accompanies many of these large events.

I have one word of warning to all who consider honoring this tradition at their next large event, be it a wedding, an anniversary, a family reunion, or in my case, a Bat Mitzvah... and that word is BREVITY!

I know you've got amazing photos that you want to share with everyone; who doesn't love that first photo of mother and child, or the naked baby butt photo, or the obligatory messy face photo -- they are all really fun. But not 20 minutes of them. We really don't need to see every Halloween costume or dance recital. We can do away with the multiple shots of milestones like reading a book or learning how to ride a bike -- one of each will do, thank you! When you think about the length of these things, think shorter rather than longer... I'm talking five minutes starts pushing the limits, or maybe seven minutes if you are really clever about your presentation.

I know I'm being harsh here, but trust me -- I've been through enough of these to know that guests start to get antsy around the four minute mark. They start whispering to their neighbors, then they start chatting with the table across from them, then they get up and hit the bar. And the poor kids and teens... with their capacity to absorb information in 10 seconds nowadays, they are ready to be done by the time you get to the pre-school shots, let alone the trips to Paris and Africa. So my word to the wise is this: if you are going to do a presentation, keep it short.

There is, however, a great way around this dilemma. A way that allows you to have as many fun photos as you want, and that is the video feed loop. This can be done on a large screen TV, computer, portable screen, or my new favorite, portable digital picture frames. This came from a client of mine, and I love it.

We bought four 10-inch digital frames, loaded them with all the photos that fit on a 4 gigabyte memory card, and placed them in strategic places around the room: one at the bar, one at the check in, one at the kid's zone, and one at the coat check area. What was so great about this concept is that people stopped at their leisure to check out the photos, often engaging with folks they didn't know in the process. Even better, they were actually discussing and commenting on the photos (as we all hope will occur through a photo montage) rather than being distracted away from them.

Another great benefit of this idea, is that you can give the preloaded frames as present to the only folks who really care about them anyway: yourself, Grandma, and Aunt Bessie.