Palace of Fine Arts Wedding – Jessica & David

Jessica & David Part 2 Palace of Fine Arts Wedding.

This was one of the most intimate weddings I photographed during the pandemic. There were five guests in total. We assembled under a glorious willow tree at the Palace of Fine Arts, and one of Jessica’s friends officiated. Just as the two had hoped the sun weaved in and out from behind the clouds. After a few wedding portraits at the Palace of Fine Arts, we headed over to Golden Gate Park for a few more couples portraits and a bit of revelry. We ended in the Shakespeare Garden where Jessica and David read love letters they had written to each other. I certainly not what they had set out planning all the way back in 2019, but they excelled in finding a way to make their wedding day magical, romantic, and full of good humor throughout.

Click here for part 1 getting ready and portraits at Cavallo Point.


Cavallo Point Wedding – Jessica & David

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.

For the wedding at the Palace of Fine Arts click here.


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

Part 1 of 4 SF City Hall/2nd Line Parade/Trolley Tour/Big Daddy’s Antiques


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. 


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