A SAN FRANCISCO CITY HALL WEDDING AKA MY FIRST WEDDING EVER!!! This gallery was shot in December of 2018, a huge steppingstone in my journey into becoming a wedding photographer. After getting so much into doing engagement photography, I finally had the chance to shoot a wedding! Being that it was a city hall wedding, it was a perfect. A BEAUTIFUL location, a short ceremony, and to top it off, a lovely couple!
Michel and Maya first contacted me because they saw my ad on craigslist. Let us go back in time a little bit and off tangent. So, on my journey into becoming a wedding photographer, I had to start somewhere. Though it may seem sketch, I was desperate to work with others. Craigslist was a very reliable option for me at the time. Not only was I able to meet amazing people, but I was able to get SO MUCH experience in. Another plus was that my rates were very reasonable, so no one really had nothing to lose. When I started really focusing on what I wanted to do (wedding photography) I then stopped posting on Craigslist. To be specific, once I finished Michel and Maya’s wedding gallery, I knew that it was time to build a new brand dedicated on a target audience!
Being that it was my first wedding ever, I was somewhat nervous, a good nervous though- excited and confident! Since it was Christmas time, City Halls interior and exterior were both beautifully decorated with holiday decorations. After going through the security entrance located on the side of the building, I entered the main atrium where a young school orchestra was playing holiday music. As I was waiting for Michel and Maya, listening to the orchestra brought me back to the time when I was in middle school and had holiday tours to various schools and locations in the city, including *drum roll* City Hall! It was a humbling moment and calmed my nerves down.
A few minutes later, I met the beautiful couple, Michel and Maya. Michel was dressed in his decorated, navy blue Coast Guard suit and Maya in her beautifully detailed wedding dress, they were both perfect. Alongside was Michel’s family who just flew in from Florida the night before. Maya’s family was back in Japan awaiting to have another ceremony over there following the city hall marriage. Before the actual ceremony there was some waiting to get a few documents signed as well as waiting for a judge. During this time, I was able to get to know Michel, his family, and Maya more. This was very calming for both me and them. After this moment I realized exactly how important it was to have consultations!
After finishing up the documents, Michel and Maya were officially in line waiting to get married in front of the beautifully lit Christmas tree at the top of the grand staircase. While waiting, it was a beautiful moment that I experienced. Michel was having a man-to-man talk with his dad while Maya was weeping tears of joy with Michel’s mom and younger sister. All of this was happening so slow, yet so fast. So many positive emotions were flowing.
As Michel and Maya were welcomed by the judge to come up, I was getting my camera ready. At the time I only had one camera body, so I had to use a versatile lens. The lens I used was a 24-105, perfect for both wide and semi-close ups. I had a flash on there just to be safe. The first few shots of the ceremony I used a flash. These shots came out cool, they had a very documentary feel to them with the hard flash lighting both Michel and Maya. The second half of the mini ceremony, I took the flash off. The shots without the flash are seen in the blog below. Though I really like how the flash pictures came out, the ones without flash had more of an editorial outcome and matched more of the post-ceremony photos. Once they were pronounced man and wife, they kissed in front of the beautifully lit Christmas tree. It felt surreal shooting this moment. I felt like I was shooting the happy ending to a movie.
Following the ceremony, we sought for a good spot with window light. Though City Hall is FILLED with photographers and their couples, there are fortunately SO many beautiful spots. We found a good spot with window light. First, I had the newlyweds in front of the window. I was able to be creative with this when editing. If I darkened it in post-production, they were simply a silhouette. I then had the window light Michel and Maya. When I pose my couples, I simply tell them to be themselves and ignore me. The shots below show exactly that. Occasionally I asked them to do specific poses, but the key was for them to ignore me. This was easy for them, they felt so comfortable with each other. These are the moments I enjoy experiencing as a photographer. The window light was so nice and soft, I really like how the skin colors came out! We then walked around to find a balcony view showing the elegant atrium. I took a few shots of the newlyweds. Though there were a good amount of people walking in the back, I was able to photoshop of them out, making it look somewhat empty. Right before we ended the post-ceremony shoot, I found a PERFECT spot. The sun was shining though the window and hitting one of the marble columns. It felt like I was in Rome, it was a hidden treasure. With this spot, the sun created a spotlight effect. I was able to pose Maya and Michel in unique ways using that harsh, artsy light.
To end our session, we finished off with photos at the front of the building at the main entrance. This was a beautiful spot because of the even, shaded light. Because we were outside during this time, Michel put on his coast guard dress cap. The architecture style of City Hall’s façade with Michel’s full suit and cap made the photos unique. They had a very classy, 1920’s feel to it! Being that this was my first wedding ever, I could not have been happier with how everything turned out! The vibes were so relaxed yet so joyful.
Congrats Michel and Maya, I am very happy for you two, thank you for allowing me to be apart of your special day and thank you for being apart of a special day in my life as well.