Have a Picture-Perfect Wedding

How to choose the right photographer for your big day

Photography will tell the story of your wedding, so the photographer you select should be carefully chosen to ensure their images reflect your personalities and journey as a couple. That’s why we spoke with Pleasantville-based Todd Shapera, who was recently selected by Wedaward as one of the 30 best wedding photographers in the world, about what makes someone in his profession—and the snapshots and portraits they produce—stand out.


Every photographer has a signature “approach.” What’s yours?
I approach weddings by drawing on my background in global photojournalism. I’ve photographed in more than 55 countries for leading foundations and publications. I seek to capture my couples’ special day as a unique story with images that are relaxed, elegant, beautifully lit, and whimsical. This photo [seen above] on a Manhattan rooftop captures all of these elements—the love between the couple, the bride’s elegance reflecting her background as a professional dancer, and the spontaneous choreography of her bridesmaids.

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How do you go about telling a couple’s story?
My goal is to capture the special moments unobtrusively. In this photo, the groom hadn’t seen his bride for a week prior to the wedding. Adding significance to the moment, the veil he is lifting was first worn by the bride’s great-grandmother and two generations of women who followed. I wanted to be close enough to capture the intimacy of the moment, yet nearly invisible to the participants.


How do you capture intimacy in portraits without traditional or stiff poses?
I tell couples that I can capture beautiful photos when they relate to each other in a relaxed, natural way; they don’t need to pose. In this photo, the couple’s intimacy is enhanced by the warm light of the stairwell chandelier and by framing them through the curving lines of the banister. Importantly, the photo uses only available, painterly light—no flash.


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Speaking of lighting, how do you achieve perfect lighting in changing and challenging situations?
Mastery of the variable lighting conditions is one of the most important and least understood components of wedding photography. The wedding day and night require photographing in conditions ranging from bright daylight to dark ballrooms and lots of variable lighting in between. I try to distinguish my photography by producing beautiful images in difficult lighting conditions. This examples captures a special moment at sunset at Tarrytown House. I sought to incorporate the signature architecture of the site.


How important is the rapport between photographer and couple?
Brides and grooms should feel relaxed chemistry with their photographer. It’s very important to meet in advance. For me, meetings are not just about showing my work, but also about learning a couple’s story: how they met, their romance, their lives together, and any special photography wishes. I try to incorporate all of this, even if only in subtle ways. As their storyteller, I’m committed to capturing their wedding through the last dance. Often, the final moments can be special.

This photo captures a spontaneous moment during the couple’s last dance at Tappan Hill Mansion. And it so perfectly embodies their story and new family. Before proposing, the groom purchased the King Charles Cavalier, hung a sign around his neck—“Will You Marry Me?”—attached a ring, and headed to his bride’s house to propose. How incredibly fitting to see this loving moment during the couple’s last dance, and fulfilling for me to have been there to capture it.

For more information on Todd Shapera’s work, visit http://www.toddshapera.com

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