4th Floor North Gallery San Francisco City Hall Wedding

This is a first for me, but Sasha & Andrew’s wedding was so ridiculously epic that I am breaking it up into 4, yes 4, posts.

We begin at the 4th Floor North Gallery of San Francisco’s City Hall

We continue with a Mardi Gras style 2nd line parade from City Hall accompanied by San Francisco’s New Orleans style brass band MJ’s Brass-Boppers

We continue further with a Hornblower trolley tour of Alamo Square, Crissy Field, and The Palace of Fine Arts.

And we conclude with an incredible feast from Fog Cutter Catering and a raucous dance party with Golden Bell Music at Big Daddy’s Antiques.

Part 1 of 4

4th Floor North Gallery San Francisco City Hall Wedding – Sasha & Andrew

Sasha found me on the internet when she was looking for a wedding photographer. I remember our first conversation clearly. She was driving home from work, and for some reason we had a long exchange about her first week in San Francisco, the nadir/highlight of which was when another driver caught that road rage and threw a strawberry smoothie at her car. Don’t ask why she knew it was strawberry. I couldn’t keep from cackling and I knew instantly that I wanted to work with Sasha and her fiancé, Andrew. Sasha may be a biochemist working in drug development for the time-being, but there is definitely an alternate world where she is killing it on the standup scene. 

One thing that made the planning of this wedding a tiny bit different was that Sasha was hiding a major surprise from Andrew. Okay, jump ahead. It’s a sunny Friday in August, the day of Sasha and Andrew’s wedding. We meet at San Francisco City Hall. Andrew enters from Carlton B Goode Plaza, Sasha from Van Ness. I leave my 2nd photographer with Andrew up on the 4th flour waiting with his back against a column. I hop in the elevator to go meet Sasha to bring her up. The elevator opens, and there she is in this fabulous pink satin dress with a shock of gold sequins from the hip down. And, yes, the dress did have pockets. I had never seem anything like it, and it sparked immediate and lasting joy. Of course Andrew was delighted by Sasha’s dress as well. Just take a look at his face in the first look photos. But, that wasn’t the major surprise.

Skip ahead again. The wedding ceremony was held on the 4th floor of San Francisco City Hall in the North Gallery. An old friend officiated. Sasha and Andrew exchanged vows that made each of them in turn laugh uproariously. At one point Sasha said something along the lines of, “Andrew and I talked about having the wedding in New Orleans, a city we both adore, but here we are in San Francisco. Regardless, Andrew absolutely deserves the biggest brass band in the world” I don’t know what to say about the way the ceremony ended other than, “Some people just know how to smooch in a government building.”

Ceremony Venue : San Francisco City Hall 4th Floor North Gallery
Reception Venue : Big Daddy’s Antiques
Photographer : Hazel Photo
Florist : Max Gill Design
Wedding planner : Jenni Grubba
Makeup : Kelly Jo Makeup & Hair
Makeup : Kelly Jo Makeup & Hair
Wedding attire : Grooms Suit: Custom, Bride’s gown: Sachin & Babi
Cake : Butter &
Catering : Fogcutter
2nd line Band : MJs Brass Boppers
DJ/Band : Golden Bells Music
Wedding Transport : Hornblower Cable Cars
Photobooth : Pika Pika


Julia Morgan Ballroom Wedding

Julia Morgan Ballroom wedding – Steff & Quito

(This is part 2 of 2. To begin at the beginning head here for the wedding ceremony at St. Ignatius cathedral.)

Steff & Quito’s wedding reception was held at the Julia Morgan Ballroom. The dinner & toasts portion of the evening was upstairs, in the ballroom itself. Dancing followed downstairs in the Merchants Exchange Club (a kind of basement speakeasy).

We began the reception with portraits of Steff & Quito and their wedding party in the grand lobby of the Merchants Exchange Building and the balcony that looks out over the lobby. The lobby is a lofted winter garden of sorts, with gorgeous arched skylights and illuminated busts of early San Francisco luminaries looming down from the walls. Steff & Quito were a combination of complete class and utter goofball. I see both qualities in most of the photos.

The cocktail hour was hosted in the elegant bar adjacent to the Julia Morgan Ballroom. Steff & Quito’s epic engagement photos were on display. Obviously, they were also themed: Dragon Ball Z (see the “Paperman” theme described in Part One). The two made self-portraits with Dragon Balls in The Philippines, Korea, Japan, Hawaii, Death Valley, and in the very elevator on the USF Campus where they first met.

The Paperman theme also continued at the Julia Morgan Ballroom. There were paper airplanes tucked everywhere, including in the florals on the mantles and on each dinner plate.

That night, the moon was so bright that its light joined the lights of the city through the windows of the Julia Morgan Ballroom. There’s a portrait of Steff and Quito with the moon above, making a cameo.

The father of the bride and the father of the groom worked the ballroom together, distributing cigars to wedding guests. Meanwhile, downstairs at the Merchants’ Exchange Club, “Paperman” was playing on a big screen, cocktails were being shaken, carnival masks imported from Manila were being distributed, and the DJ was beginning to lay down tracks. Of course Steff, the costume designer, was going to have an outfit change before it was time to dance. Instead of a traditional bouquet toss, Steff launched a paper airplane with a bright red kiss mark, as in the short film.

Then there was a money dance with currencies from around the world, and an impromptu conga line formed.

To see photos from the wedding ceremony at St. Ignatius click here.

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


2019 a year in wedding moments

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!!!)


“Documentary wedding photography” 7 reasons why this is what you really want.

An emotional first look at a wedding. The groom wipes a tear away. Documentary wedding photography.
  1. You care deeply what it actually felt like to be at your wedding, and so you want wedding photos that convey that feeling. The goal in “documentary wedding photography” is to make images that make you feel what it was like to be at your wedding years after the fact.
Boy in suit and suspenders hugging his daddy's leg at a wedding. Documentary Wedding Photography

2. You want a photo of your best friend doing the worm, of your mom teasing her sister, of your dad hugging you with tears in his eyes, of your niece with that look like she’s plotting world takeover. These are the moments a documentary wedding photographer sees, and immortalizes.

A groom held aloft his cousins' shoulders during a baraat. Documentary Wedding Photography Hazel Photo

3. You want a photographer who has a keen eye for the meaningful gestures, expressions, and details that tell the larger story. A documentary wedding photographer spends years honing the ability to see the unexpected, to frame things just right, so the viewer is compelled by the photograph, and understands the scene.

a little girl in a white dress with a white basket and a bright pink troll, sticking her tongue out and observing it all on a wedding day. Documentary wedding photography.

4. You don’t want your photographer to tell you to have a second first look. One is overwhelmingly wonderful. Also, hold on a sec, how in the world can you have a second first look? This speaks to the authentic manner in which documentary wedding photographers work.

a groom and his father share a hug at the hotel before heading over to the church for the wedding. Documentary wedding photography

5. You want pictures that make you feel seen. A documentary wedding photographer can make photographs that compliment the principles that guided you when you were planning your wedding. (whether you sat down and wrote out official guidelines with your fiancé, or you just have a general sense of what you were about during the planning.) Unfortunately some wedding photography doesn’t see you for who you are, and ends up being more a photographer’s idea of what a “romantic wedding” should look like.

a Bride reading a letter from her groom before the wedding surrounded by bridesmaids and mom. Documentary wedding photography

6. You don’t want a photography company that takes over with multiple cameras, and blocks your guests’ view, and makes it feel like a photoshoot, not like an authentic event. In “documentary wedding photography” the goal is to let the wedding be what it is, rather than to step in and change it.

7. You like the color of your dress and the florals you chose, and you want them to be true to life in the pictures. The style of a documentary wedding photographer can be carried into processing images after the wedding day with the goal of reproducing beautiful faithful color. Some wedding photography is significantly altered in processing, whether that be desaturation, color grading, or excessive retouching. 


Marin Headlands Engagement Photos

Marin Headlands Engagement Photos – Cat & Ross

Cat & Ross met me in the Marin Headlands for their engagement session on a sunny and windy day. We began in the area close to the fabulous Headlands Center For the Arts (if you’ve never been, it is an absolute gem of an artists’ residency and gallery space tucked into the Marin Headlands.) The sun was still a bit high in the sky when we began, so we primarily stuck to the shade. This worked out well, as we were able to make some photos sheltered from the wind before we gave in to the messy magic. But, that is what the Marin Headlands are all about, spectacular windy messy magic. The hills are often windy, and always gorgeous. Tucked away behind the Headlands Center for the Arts we found a field with a row of towering cypress trees, and a eucalyptus grove full of deer hidden away munching an afternoon snack. See if you can spot her. As the sun grew lower, we took off for Point Bonita Lighthouse, but when we saw the Golden Gate Bridge and the beauty of the San Francisco Bay below, we had to pull over to make a few more photographs. The Point Bonita Lighthouse is only open on Sundays and Mondays 3 hours at a time, but the approach is stunning as well. As the sun set further, we enjoyed a few last moments watching the golden hour curl into the blue hour with the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge beyond.


East Bay Regional Parks Botanic Garden Wedding Berkeley CA

East Bay Regional Parks Botanic Garden Wedding Berkeley, CA

Eli and Tobie were married in a shady grove of towering redwood trees in the East Bay Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Berkeley, California. They are both super charismatic, and they were great in front of the camera. When the connection between a couple is electric, like it is between Eli and Tobie, my job is easy.

Yes, Eli and Tobie’s wedding was overflowing with glorious colorful outfits, but Tobie’s pants — come on! They brought a burst of color to every image he was in. Tobie’s parents constructed a freestanding chuppah that looked like an erector set in the best possible way. There is one image of Tobie’s dad seeming to summon the chuppah from the earth. Poems were read, songs were sung, Eli’s family staged a production of the Owl and the Pussycat, replete with costumes and props. Eli is a talented musician, namely a singer songwriter. Throughout the ceremony and toasts, there were references to songs Eli had written, including a love song he wrote when he was first falling in love with Tobie. At the reception, guests were served the fanciest, most delicious, vegan barbecue you might ever encounter, especially that chimichurri sauce, yum! It was a typical Bay Area day, sunny and hot in the middle, cloudy and windy in the afternoon. I loved how one couple grabbed their travel quilt and got cozy.

Vegan Catering by It’s From the Garden


Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Youtube
Consent to display content from Youtube
Vimeo
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google