HomeLocalLocal NewsLeading Bnai Mitzvah photographer Robyn Shapiro constantly working to...

Leading Bnai Mitzvah photographer Robyn Shapiro constantly working to refine her technique

By MYRON LOVE What started as a hobby while home with young children has blossomed into a successful and fulfilling career for Robyn Shapiro, arguably our community’s leading  b’nai mitzvah photographer. 
“I would like to say I have a unique style to my photography and pride myself on the details,” she observes. “I love a pop of color or a vivid black and white. A true candid makes me smile or when I can see their personality shine through.
“I love what I do, and love that I get to celebrate the lives and loves of so many people. Each event is a happy occasion that brings smiles and laughter to so many around me. I get to be a part of many beautiful ceremonies, rites of passage and ever amazing events. The circle of life is a gift and one that I want to capture.
I wake up every day to see the beauty in our world, one photograph at a time.”
Growing up, the former North End girl recalls that she enjoyed taking pictures.  The daughter of Allan and Rennie Elfenbein attended Peretz School and the former Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate until the end of Grade 9 –graduating from Garden City Collegiate.
The future professional photographer was enrolled in the University of Manitoba when she became pregnant with her first born daughter, Briya – who was soon followed by little brother Lev – both of whom are now in high school at Gray Academy.
 (Shapiro was married to Jay Shapiro who, sadly, passed away seven years ago at the young age of 47.)
“While at home with my young children, I started taking pictures of our dogs,” Robyn Shapiro recalls.  “I found that I really enjoyed manipulating objects and scenes for the camera.  I began to think about the possibility of photography as a business.”
While working half days as an education assistant with junior high school students in the Pembina Trails school Division  – a position she still holds – she began taking courses at the Prairieview School of Photography while growing her business – Robyn Shapiro Photography.
“I started with weddings,” she says.  “that went very well for me.  After a few years, a client hired me to shoot a bar mitzvah.  I loved it.  I love all the energy that is a bnai mitzvah. They are always a lot of fun.
“And I know the community well.”
(Growing up, she regularly attended the former Beth Israel Synagogue with her parents.)
She photographed her first bar mitzvah in 2010.  Up until Covid restrictions were introduced, she reports that she and the late Manny Sousa were the pre-eminent photographers in Winnipeg for bnai mitzvah.
“Manny and I used to often run into each other,” she recalls.  “He was a great guy, a good friend, and I learned a lot from him.”
Before Covid, she reports, she would generally be booked for bnai mizvah every weekend – and sometimes two on a weekend – throughout the spring, late summer and fall.  “Things have changed a little bit since the restrictions have been removed,” she notes.  “There are a few more bnai mitzvah taking place in  the winter months.”
Wedding season, she adds, is late spring and early summer, late summer and early fall.
Shapiro’s services are also in demand for grad photos, which are generally packed into the last two weeks in June and sometime early July.
No professional photographer can afford to neglect the corporate market.  In  that sphere, Shapiro notes that she takes on numerous assignments for hospitals.  She just recently shot a cardiovascular science symposium – and adds that she provides a lot of head shots for people in the medical field as well as for those pursuing acting careers.
Shapiro also, on occasion, gives of her talent in a voluntary capacity as, for example, for an upcoming fundraising gala for Ronald MacDonald House – and other similar non-profits.
She notes that she is always upgrading her photography education while staying abreast of the latest new trends and techniques.  “I watch a lot of videos,” she says.  “As well, I meet regularly with a group of photographers to which I belong. We learn from each other.”
In addition to her love of photography, Shapiro has a passion for cycling.   She cycles throughout the year, doing 25 km daily outdoors most of the year and indoors in winter.  She also enjoys kayaking in  summer and participates in a women’s soccer league in fall and winter.
And, of course, summers at Gimli are a well-established tradition for her and her children.  “A lot of people who summer at Gimli and Winnipeg Beach know me,” she says.  “I am called on frequently to photograph special events and family gatherings.”

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