New ketubah designs from my nature photography

I have just released seven new ketubah designs for my store Modern Ketubah. I usually try to create one or two new designs each winter, but this year, I got inspired. I’m pretty happy with the way these turned out. I created some of these new ketubahs from my recent photographs (like Horizon and Wildflower, shown below). But a few are from some old gems I rediscovered. I find that creating new ketubah designs gives me a chance to spend some quality time digging through my archives, getting reacquainted with old work, looking for just the right photograph.

Horizon Ketubah from Modern Ketubah ©Daniel Sroka Wildflower Ketubah from Modern Ketubah ©Daniel Sroka

You can find all of my new ketubah designs here.

It’s a challenge to integrate text into a photographic-based design. When done right, it looks simple and natural, but it is very easy to mess up. You need to get the right balance between the visual weight of the words and the subject of the photograph so that they work together instead of clashing. Not every photograph works well in a text-based design. The photograph needs to have a clear visual focus, have a subject that is appropriate for a wedding (so some of my more moody photos are out), and have enough neutral space to be able to “hold” the text well. This is especially tricky with a ketubah, where you are working with two languages (English and Hebrew) that use completely different alphabets. The design needs to be flexible to hold both the smaller modern ketubah texts, and the longer, Hebrew-intensive, traditional texts. Sorting them all together is like assembling a tricky puzzle. I got my start doing this kind of design 18 years ago, when I worked for a design shop in Tokyo… and I gotta say, I still love it. (What’s a ketubah, you ask? Read this.)

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7 Comments

  1. Man, your imagery works so well for this. You must have some subconscious (or maybe it is conscious) sense for making pictures that shine for ketubah.

  2. The photographs came first. I had been developing the style over the course of a year or so before I started making ketubot.

    When I designed my first ketubah (for my own wedding), I wasn’t sure what I really wanted, and I spent a couple months working on range of very different ideas and styles. Then one day while I was editing some photographs I had taken of a rose in our garden, the idea hit me out of the blue. That’s usually how it work with me: a lot of seemingly fruitless leg work followed by a flash of inspiration.

    When I realized how I wanted to so it, I went through my archives and began finding other photographs that worked as well. It’s interesting, even when I try to shoot photos for my ketubah designs, very few actually work. It’s a tricky combination to get just right.

  3. Your Ketubahs are really beautiful and a wonderful keepsake for the bride and groom. Your photographs give them a wonderful ethereal quality to the “contract” – a sort of romantic lost in time feel. I may be getting it all wrong – but this is what it looks like to someone who only just learned about ketubahs. It would be interesting to see a regular plain one.

  4. Dan, I don’t know too much about Ketubahs, but must say you design some pretty impressive stuff. It is obvious you have an eye for integration of text and image. Very nice stuff. Your images look like they naturally belong on such documents.

  5. Yes Cynthia, one of the things that appeals to me about making ketubot is that they are artworks that have a deep personal meaning for the people who buy them. That’s something special for an artist.

    You asked about how a regular ketubah can look. They can be pretty plain. The simplest I’ve seen is a xeroxed form letter that the rabbi keeps on hand, just in case.

    Thanks Mark. I’ve done a lot of multi-lingual design work throughout my career, so I’m glad it shows.

  6. Wow, this is great! you did a good job with this.

  7. Hi Daniel! You have some beautiful ketubahs. I was wondering if you would be able to make a ketubah using irises.

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