Philly Faces: Photographer Creates Own Path


A photography class in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown changed Yael Pachino’s life.

Yael Pachino

She was only 22. Following a discussion with a friend in which she lamented her job in public relations, she decided to pick up photography as a hobby.

After just an hour of the class, she decided she wanted to leave her job and pursue a new career in photography. Pachino spent the next year at the Hallmark Institute of Photography, then started her own business.

Today, the 26-year-old lives in Philadelphia, where she is the owner and operator of Yael Pachino Photography. Though she enjoys any project where she gets to photograph people — B’nai Mitzvahs, engagements, family portraits, headshots and more — her passion is capturing weddings.

Q: What was it about that photography class that struck you?

A: I love the whole concept of being able to be with the moment and keeping it forever.

I’m a wedding photographer, so the family portraits are a huge part of the day. I get all the different generational groupings, and I get emails sometimes about how the photo I took of someone’s grandmother was the last photo that they got together. That’s super meaningful to me because those photos are what they’re going to remember their grandparents by. Those photos are what they’re going to show their grandkids and [say], ‘This is grandma’ or ‘This is my great-aunt, Sue.’ That’s what really draws me to capturing moments.

I’ve always been interested in a creative field, but I grew up Jewish Orthodox, and I actually never really thought of doing creative things as a career because that’s just not what a lot of young Orthodox women do. You think social worker, you think teacher, you think all these other things, so you never really think wedding photographer. I was at a point where I was trying to find my own path in life, and I realized I could do something creative.

Q: What’s your Jewish journey been like?

A: I grew up very Zionistic. One of my sisters is making aliyah in two weeks, and the other made aliyah 11, 12 years ago. We spent all [our] summers in Israel, so that was a huge part of my upbringing. I went to Jewish day school, and then my sisters took a gap year in Israel and did the whole learning for a year.

When I was in high school, I realized I didn’t feel the same way about Orthodoxy as my parents and my family do. I don’t really know what sect of Judaism I’d call myself, but I ended up finding my own way. When I lived in Massachusetts, I was the only Jew within, like, 100 miles, and that blew my mind because coming from Baltimore, there are all these Jews. … That brought me back to feeling more connected with my Judaism, and now, I keep kosher for Passover, and I make everyone around me do Chanukah candles, and I fast on Yom Kippur. I do what I feel is comfortable, but I do also have an Orthodox education, so my mind leans more toward Orthodox.

Q: Where do you see the future of your photography business going?

A: I love focusing on Jewish weddings and Jewish traditions, seeing a kid get his first aliyah on his Bar Mitzvah is such a meaningful experience for me. … I thrive on watching other people celebrate their Jewish tradition and their love or their successes. Nothing against non-Jewish weddings, but my focus will definitely be on trying to create these relationships where I can be one of the [sought-after] photographers in the Jewish community.; 215-832-0729


  1. Yael does a fantastic job working with her clients, takes beautiful pictures and is a dream to work with. Highly recommended.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here