San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photographer

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS for City Hall Weddings & Photography


Q: How much time is needed for photos at City Hall? What is the difference between the basic 1hr and the Standard 2hr and Premium 2.5 hr packages?

A: After photographing weddings for years at San Francisco City Hall, I have discovered every nook and cranny of angelic light at what is the 5th largest free standing dome in the world. At least an an additional hour, after your ceremony and group shots, is required to get a good combination of photographs that are representative of City Hall. Since reopening after the COVID closure City Hall, closes at 5:00PM instead of 8:00PM. With less hours available for photography, it is now more important than ever ensure proper time for quality photographs.

Q: How many photos will I receive ?

A: In the chart below, I give a rough idea of the # of photos that you will receive based on the package selected. Although it seems obvious to compare packages and photographers by the number of photos delivered, by far the most important measure is the quality of the photos. Some of my shoots with the least number of photos had multiple award winning images in the same shoot! I always deliver similarly edited photos for the whole shoot, so you don't have to imagine what the rest would look like if they were edited properly.

A Comparison of City Hall Photography Packages

    PackageTypical # of Photos Delivered in addition to Ceremony PhotosGroup PhotosNo Strangers if photos OptionNotes
    Ceremony Only3 additional - I Typically Deliver roughly 30 images taken for the 5 minute Ceremonies at the RotundaOne photo of entire group in front of City HallNoNot Recommended if you want couple photos after Ceremony throughout City Hall
    Basic 1 Hr50Family/Friend photos but takes away from couple photosNo
    Standard 2 hr80 typically about 140 photos total from locations throughout City HallPlenty of time for family and friend photos.Included2 hr & 2.5 hr packages for weddings scheduled after 3PM, require some photography to be scheduled before the Ceremony.
    Premium 2.5 hr120+ typically about 200 photos total from locations throughout City HallPlenty of time for family and friend photos. Preferred package for Mayor's Balcony and 4th Floor weddings where there are typically more group photos.

Q. When is the best time to have a wedding at City Hall that when it is less crowded?

There is not sure fire way to maximize light and crowds at City Hall. Since Cit Hall has shortened their business hours to 8AM-5PM there are more photographers competing for space Monday thru Friday. Fridays and afternoons are typically the most crowded and midweek is the least crowded. The most important factor in getting the photos that you want is the package selected. The 2 hr and 2.5 hr packages will provide enough time to get the essential shot at that everyone wants from the Grand Staircase and the 4th Floor without strangers in the background.

Q. When is the best light at City Hall?

The best light at City Hall is during the Winter when the light is not too strong and is very photographic, when it enters into the building on the 4th floor and even touches down to the 1st and 2nd floors at times. In general, trying to optimize your ceremony for best lighting, is only possible for one or two locations max. This is because City Hall is way darker than it appears. Besides the 4th Floor, the ambient light is usually quite dark, and requires the photographer to use off camera flash to get beautiful professional photos throughout the building. The use of off camera flash is more important than the time of day in getting the best photos at City Hall. No matter what photographer you pick , make sure that they are skilled at the use of of off camera lighting. So that your whole shoot will have the same level of quality as the few places (for example the 4th Floor) with good sunlight.

Without Off Camera Flash (dull colors)

With Off Camera Flash

Without Off Camera Flash (lack of 'pop' little contrast.)

With Off Camera Flash

Q. How would you describe your typical clients.

A: Our clients are visually sophisticated. What I mean by this, is that our clients really care about lighting, expression and artistry. Many of our clients are avid, amateur photographers and even other pro photographers or others who work in various cinematic arts. We also get many tech types from Silicon valley such as Googlers and Apple employees or those working in startups. The commonality is they have an artistic side and love photography. Finally, I get , many very family oriented couples who are excited to share their photos to other family members around the world.

Q. What kind of camera equipment do you use?

A: I am firm believer that is mostly about the photographer and that equipment can only get one so far. Having said this I shoot with Professional Sony gear. All my lenses are carefully selected for the highest performance and character. I often use classic Zeiss and Leica lenses that I have adapted to modern sensors. Finally, I use only the best lighting, by Profoto. Top photographers, the world over, use Profoto due their reliability and amazing reliability light quality.

Q. Do you offer video services?

A: Yes, we can capture your ceremony plus vignettes of your City Hall/Tour photo session with pro level audio and a wireless mic.

What to Expect

Q. When and where do we meet?

Rotunda weddings: I typically I meet the couple 15 minutes before their Ceremony time at the bottom of the Grand Staircase on the 1st floor. After meeting the couple, I go up the the Rotunda and get my camera and flash equipment ready for the Ceremony. Photographers are no longer allowed to photograph the registration process before the Ceremony. Only if the photographer is a witness (I happy to be your witness.) are photographers allowed in the Clerks Office, but even then cannot photograph the process.

4th Floor and Mayor's Balcony Weddings:

I will meet the couple approximately 15 minutes before the Ceremony and set up lighting.

If there is a "First Look" option we will go into detail over the phone how to arrange entry into the building without seeing each other and plan for enough time before the Ceremony.

Q: What about posing? I don't want overly posed photos.

A: My style is to give suggestions to the couple, but then, let them interact naturally. And Capture that interaction. In my portfolio, even when you see a photo of the Bride or Groom alone, their partner is usually behind me and their smile and demeanor are authentic. The photos you see in my portfolio are mostly just a matter of helping the chemistry of the couple come out naturally.

Q. How are photos delivered.

A:We deliver full resolution images on our online proofing and sharing site for a minimum of three years(no extra cost).