Many couples choose a wedding at San Francisco City Hall because it provides an intimate, low-stress experience, yet still offers unparalleled beauty. It might be just the two of you eloping, or maybe you have a couple of close friends attending the ceremony. Maybe your immediate families are attending, or maybe some co-workers are sneaking away during lunch to be your witnesses. Perhaps you live abroad and have been planning this occasion for a long time, or perhaps you're reserving one of the Fourth Floor Galleries or the Mayor's Balcony for a more formal ceremony with musicians, your own officiant and some 50 guests.
Whichever path you've chosen for your San Francisco City Hall wedding, you've come to the right place. Being a San Francisco City Hall wedding photographer requires sensitivity to any of the above scenarios. The experience begins with a simple greeting, typically at the bottom of the stairs or at your reserved space. From there, we might proceed to the County Clerk's office together for the official check-in, or, we might get ready for the private ceremony to commence.
Either way, the goal is to be able to seamlessly navigate you through City Hall's process, as well as it's labyrinthine elevators and stairwells. You can leave this in our capable hands, because after all, seamless movement means more time for creative photography!
We come equipped with the right gear for the job. Don't let the many gorgeous photographs fool you - City Hall is actually quite a challenging place to take pictures. The many different parts of the building require their own specific approach.
For example, while there's ample natural light up at North and South Fourth Floor Galleries, sometimes that light can be very bright and overpowering (especially in the South Gallery). Other times, overcast San Francisco skies can make even these big fourth floor windows seem quite dim. During the late afternoon hours in the late fall and winter, the building can be quite dark overall. The temperatures of the light also vary greatly between different parts of the building. Daylight filters in through the doors and windows, and tungsten is the dominant light source from sconces and lamps. However, the administrative offices are a mix of fluorescent and tungsten lights. The bottom line is, professional wedding photography at San Francisco City Hall requires excellent understanding and command of the lighting environments.
Beyond light, there is the choice of lenses. To capture the architectural grandeur, we use the highest-quality wide angle lenses. To bring out flattering portraits and to reach distant corners of the building, we utilize state-of-the-art telephoto lenses. To capture spontaneous moments in dark environments where flash photography may not be an option, we use cameras that produce unparalleled quality in low light.
All that said, we don't let our equipment become cumbersome. Efficient photography around City Hall requires that we move nimbly around the building, unburdened by too many pieces of gear. Finding that perfect balance of just the right amount of the right equipment is what allows us to produce a comprehensive set of unique images for every wedding - big or small.
A PHILOSOPHY OF BALANCE
Let's talk about balance. Photography is an art, but our philosophy is this: to do it right, there must be a balance between directed and photojournalistic photography. Some moments call for the photographer to be a fly on the wall, to capture emotion and connection as they naturally occur. Other times, the photographer must step in and be prepared to lead and direct. For example, to orchestrate a large family photograph, or to help you adapt to a challenging situation (let's say part of City Hall is closed for an event, or a tour bus unloads 100 tourists that take over the building). How do we handle it? We prepare, we know the building, we know the best spots. We befriend the officiants and security guards. We learn people's names and pay attention to detail. We strive to bring out the best in all of the wedding guests - not just the wedding couple. We focus on your experience. The bottom line: we deliver.
If it's not already self-evident, you're dealing with experienced folks here. We're talking about hundreds of San Francisco City Hall weddings. Big and small. Rain or shine. Over the years, some things have changed: the long fight for marriage equality has been won, and many of the weddings that take place at City Hall are now same-sex weddings. It's not uncommon to see two men in tuxedoes sharing a kiss, or two brides in weddings gowns enjoying an embrace on the stairs. The gilded lettering on the City Hall doors has been updated several times. But one thing that never changes is the happiness and excitement of the couples who come to City Hall to officially unite their lives. We share their joy and we're honored to capture every moment!