This is part 1 of 2 of an epic engagement session spread between Sutro Baths and Ocean Beach. Marie, Charlie and I met near San Francisco’s Sutro Baths for their engagement session. We started in the shade at Point Lobos where we made portraits amongst the cypress while the sun was still a bit higher in the sky. Then we made our way down the hillside stopping along the way in good light until we reached the rocky shore of the Pacific Ocean. Down on the rocks we were joined by birds and ocean spray, which made for some majestic images. Satisfied with our time during “golden hour” at Sutro Baths, we headed over to Ocean Beach for “blue hour.” click here for the Ocean Beach engagement session photos.
In 2021 I photographed 24 weddings in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. All but a couple happened in the 2nd half of the year. I feel overwhelmed with gratefulness as I look back on all of the beauty and connection I was invited to witness and document. There’s nothing like a pandemic to remind a person how incredibly good it feels to gather friends, chosen family, and family to celebrate love.
2022 is looking to be a fuller year for weddings… My year is 70% booked, and will bring me up to Mendocino Sonoma and Napa, out to Walnut Creek and Lake Tahoe, and down to Half Moon Bay and the Santa Cruz Mountains.
I can’t wait for all these adventures to come.
Jessica & David’s intimate wedding unfolded in three parts – Getting ready at Cavallo Point, vows and a big smooch at the Palace of Fine Arts, and portraits in the Music Councourse at Golden Gate Park.
We started the day at Cavallo Point in a lovely old building where Jessica’s sister helped her into her dress and shoes, while her brother helped David with his boutonniere. They had their first look on the sun porch. We walked out to the pier for a few photos with the Golden Gate Bridge, and were lucky enough to be visited by a seagull at just the right moment.
St. Ignatius Cathedral wedding San Francisco – Steff & Quito
This is part 1 of 2 (for part 2 at the Julia Morgan Ballroom click here)
St. Ignatius Cathedral is a stunning building. It’s perched atop one of San Francisco’s numerous hills, so tall you can see it from much of the city. Grandeur is really the right word for St. Ignatius. (Exhibit A: see the photograph of Steff & Quito with St. Ignatius and its towers in the background).
This was a themed wedding: there were details woven throughout the day that referenced the short film “Paperman.” It was no surprise that the wedding was themed, because Steff is a multi-talented costume-designer who has a strong presence on the cosplay scene. She was behind much of the design: her bouquet of roses with a paper airplane marked by a lipstick kiss, the newspaper-themed wedding program, and the color scheme — a sea of black and white, from black tuxes to black oxfords to Steff’s white wedding gown, and then the pop of bright red lipstick on her lips.
Steff & Quito met at University of San Francisco (USF), so this was a return to roots. Quito actually attended St. Ignatius when they were undergrads. We made portraits on the USF campus, where they first fell in love, and up on Lone Mountain with sweeping views of the city. Then we headed across town to the Julia Morgan Ballroom.
I love the photograph of the two of them in the back of the car swallowed in the volume of her dress.
Ceremony Venue : St. Ignatius Parish, San Francisco
Reception Venue : Julia Morgan Ballroom
Photographer : Hazel Photo
Florist : Wish Social Events
Bride’s dress : Steff Von Schweetz
DJ : Quan Zou Blue Edge Pro
Cake : Cafe Madeleine
Catering : Julia Morgan Ballroom
Band : Joyous Lee
The beauty of Johanna & Phil’s wedding at Camp Navarro in Mendocino, California was overwhelming. There were meaningful flourishes sewn into every aspect of the weekend. So I’m going to split this wedding up into two posts. It’s just entirely too epic for one!
The delights started before I arrived at Camp Navarro. As we descended on Mendocino County from far flung burgs, wedding guests were treated to a downloadable wedding podcast hosted by the bride and groom. There was an interview with the flower girl, an analysis of the distinction between genres of brokenbeat music, interviews with the parents, and advertisements for camp-style activities all set to the theme music from This American Life, Serial, et al. I laughed and laughed as I drove north.
Camp Navarro is nestled in a remote redwood forest, a few hours North of San Francisco. When you arrive, the smell, the light, and the feeling of the air in your lungs makes the rest of the workaday world fall away.
I started with Johanna and her bridesmaids, where I was treated to a sneak peek of her fabulous dress: a marigold to white ombre theme by Leanne Marshall. Once she had slipped the dress on, she looked as if she had walked out of a Helen Frankenthaler painting.
Sitting on the table in the getting ready cabin was a printout of Johanna & Phil’s initial text exchanges. At the center of these exchanges was their connection around Johanna’s expertise as a midwife and Phil’s desire to be a Birth DJ. As the romance unfolded through these messages, it became clear how funny each of them were, and how well matched to each other.
One of my favorite frames from the day came as we were readying to head over to the first look. The ring bearer hopped on the back of a bicycle and was pedaled across camp.
After the first look, they had a ketubah signing before heading over to chuppah. One of Johanna’s friends did all of the florals. I particularly loved the sunflowers on the chuppah that matched Johanna’s dress.
The officiant, a close friend of the couple, wore an exuberant rainbow shawl that tied together the colorful bridesmaids dresses.
During the ceremony, when the officiant asked the assembled guests if there were any objections to the marriage, a planted objector jumped up and spoke about some of the limits of marriage as we now, and have historically, practiced the convention. Johanna and Phil both addressed their vows to the objector, and to each other. This emotional ritual allowed Johanna and Phil to acknowledge the flaws of the institution of marriage, while defending their own decision to express their love through marriage.
And this was only the beginning… the party also had myriad fabulous chapters…
Venue : Camp Navarro
Photographer : Paul Gargagliano – Hazelphoto
Wedding dress : Leanne Marshall
Suit : Knot Standard
Florist : Morgan Johnson
Wedding planner : Sonya Houston – Mendocino Wedding
Hair and makeup : Jordyn Condit- Mendo Bridal Beauty
DJ and/or band : Ashleyanne
Cake : Shani’s Sweet Creations
Catering : Camp Navarro
Officiant : Ilyse Magy
2019 was a big year over here. After moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in June of 2017, and flying to NYC, Boston, and Philadelphia countless times to photograph weddings in 2017 & 2018, my 2019 wedding season was 95% California weddings. I feel grateful for the shift and the growth, which has allowed me to spend more time close to home running to the beach and eating breakfast tacos in the backyard with my wife on Sunday mornings.
This year I witnessed great beauty and connection up and down the coast, and I was introduced to new traditions: From redwood cathedrals dusted with rose petals in Mendocino, to dusty ranches lit up with colorful saris down in San Benito County. From Greek feasts in hidden urban gardens, to foggy hilltop wedding brunches. From pretzel dances in Silicon Valley, to rooftop ragers in Soma. From boxer dogs in tailored tuxes, to gold sequin party dresses just for dancing.
There were lots of saxophones at weddings this year. I certainly hope that trend endures. One of the saxophonists wore a cow suit. I had the distinct pleasure of listening to my first wedding podcast, including a hilarious interview with the flower girl. One couple drove into their wedding at Fort Mason on their tandem bicycle right up to the altar, another drove away from their City Hall wedding on a getaway motorcycle with a veil flying behind the bride’s helmet. I learned about 2nd lines, the Gujarati Garba Dance, Hula, and Cosplay. This was also a year of micro-weddings. Such intimate affairs. 10 souls at a gorgeous farmhouse on a Vineyard in Sonoma, 18 in a backyard in Napa, 10 on Synagogue grounds in Santa Clara County. But, there were large affairs as well in clubhouses with fantastic views of the majestic San Francisco skyline, elegant white gowns with long trains, 10-piece bands. There was a wedding newspaper, a bouquet of paper airplanes, and a custom-printed Shehecheyanu shawl draped over a pair of embracing brides just-married on a foggy Marin mountaintop.
I want to take this moment to thank every last person who invited me in to witness their weddings, to witness their families,, and their communities breaking bread, singing, laughing, dancing, crying, etc. etc. I loved all of it. I feel immensely grateful, and I look forward to next year, which should prove to be another glorious year full of ritual and awe.
(2020 is already 75% booked…eeeep!!!)