How much does wedding photography cost in the San Francisco Bay Area?

Here are some of the things that helped me to think through hiring my own wedding photographer…

Wedding photography is a luxury, but so is almost everything about a wedding. The weird thing about the photography is that it lasts longer than the dress, steak, wine, cake, music, etc. etc. Eventually, what the photographer saw can overtake other memories. So weird! Anyway. It is important! 

One way to think about it is that you are commissioning an artist to make a body of work about you, your love, your family, and your friends. For many people this is one of the only times in their lives they will commission an artist to make work for them.

Wedding photography cost varies by market. I might have expensive taste, but one woman I talked to quoted me 10k for her bare bones package. WTF?! That is over the top. Up to 6k seems within reason in more expensive cities. Anything under 3k, you are working with someone who is either, in a market with very very cheap living expenses, is an unrealistic business person, is a bad photographer, is just starting out, or some combination of these things. 

Important questions to consider when hiring a photographer:

Do we trust this person? Is this person actually the photographer who will come on our wedding day? Are they easy to be around? Will they take their commitment to the work seriously? Will they understand what is important to us about our wedding, or do they have their own ideas that they will try to impose? Will this person get along with our guests? What final product are we getting? Do we get all of the high resolution files or do we have to pay for each and every print? Do we want to order prints ourselves? Do we want a professionally produced album? Would we ever get around to making an album ourselves?  

What sort of style does this photographer have? Will they capture us in natural joyful expressions? Are they too focused on making an interesting picture? Are they creative enough with their compositions? Do they take too many pictures of the cake, dress, jewelry, centerpieces? (There is a whole genre that is beholden to blogs like Style Me Pretty. This genre includes a strange amount of product photography along with the traditional coverage.)

So, there’s my two cents.

Also, my cheeky article on why you don’t need a wedding photographer: https://hazelphoto.com/why-you-dont-need-wedding-photographer/


Berkeley Hills Engagement Photos

E and B were willing to meet me early in the morning at Wildcat Canyon for a hike and engagement photo session. I think of this as the Berkeley Hills, even though it’s a teensy bit North of Berkeley. This set is a sunrise engagement session! My absolute favorite. We met early in the morning, and used the delicious soft light coming through the grass, rolling over the hills, emanating from the city below, for our glory. While sunset engagement sessions are also lovely and ubiquitous, they generally involve lots of other people in the scene to avoid. We had a particularly quiet morning, and for much of our hike, there was nobody else in eyesight. The part of the hike up on the ridge line next to the forest was special, lush and new. It was January here in the Bay Area, the rainy season, but we got lucky and had a clear, sunny morning. The rain brought out the green grass and the mushrooms. 


San Francisco Marriage Proposal Photographer

San Francisco Marriage Proposal Photographer – SF MOMA

Kevin found me on yelp, figure that. He told me that he lived with his girlfriend, Maggie, down in San Diego and that they were planning a trip up to San Francisco, and it was going to be quite a trip, because he was hoping they would be engaged on the return flight. We made a master marriage proposal plan to be carried out at the spectacular Battery Godfrey. I sent him a video of exactly where he would stand in front of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge… point there, tap here, kneel there… every detail of the marriage proposal was planned out except for the rain (I hear it doesn’t do that in San Diego.) So it definitely rained. We made a backup master marriage proposal plan at San Francisco City Hall, and Kevin executed it perfectly. I have to say it’s thrilling every time I get to photograph a marriage proposal, and these two were about the nicest giddiest folks you could hope to spend a rainy afternoon photographing. After the proposal at San Francisco City Hall we headed over to SF MOMA for a few more deliriously happy photographs.

marriage proposal photographer san francisco bay area


San Francisco City Hall Documentary Wedding Photographer

San Francisco City Hall Documentary Wedding Photographer

J and M had a sweet ceremony in the rotunda at San Francisco’s City Hall. I love how their faces glowed with happiness right after their ring exchange and kiss. It was a blissfully quiet day, as far as San Francisco City Hall is concerned. This gave us the opportunity to explore some of the lovelier parts of the grand historical building. J and M and their small wedding party brought along not one, but two ridiculously cute dogs.


Temescal Beach House Wedding Alx & Chris

Temescal Beach House Wedding Alx & Chris

Alx & Chris had a lovely intimate wedding at the Temescal Beach House up in the hills of Oakland, CA. From the moment I met Alx she had a crystal clear vision of what she wanted on her wedding day. For the photos she wanted to have a formal photo with every guest. We were going for the simplicity of the wedding photos from the 1930s. Alx brought a cowhide rug, a vintage theater bench, and a couple assorted chairs. Those few items made styling the group portraits fun and easy. It did not hurt that the two had such fashionable wedding guests. Alx and Chris had done a lot of thinking about the parts of a traditional wedding ceremony that they appreciate, and the parts that they wanted to change. After Alx and Chris read personal vows to each other, they had their assembled guests read a communal vow. I was inspired by that turn!

                                        


Kaaterskill Inn Wedding – NYC – Rachael & Neal

Kaaterskill Inn Wedding – NYC – Rachael & Neal

Rachael and Neal caught a spectacular, toasty June day for their wedding.  They chose the eclectic and lovely Kaaterskill Inn, in Catskill, New York for their wedding venue. The house, the barn, the farm, were all a dream to explore. I thought on it this morning, the two things that defined their wedding for me are a freeness and lightness of spirit, and a pair of extraordinary close-knit families. It’s always an honor to photograph a wedding, but, these two, and all their people were remarkably relaxed around me, and this helped me to create just the type of photographs I like best, natural, unposed, emotional, gestural, and joyous portraits. Thank you, Rachael and Neal for trusting me, inviting me in, and being such easy, fun, and loveful people.

              


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