wedding photography is so meta (at the Hiller Aviation Museum and Library, SFO)

Here's my second shooter Melissa's photo of me photographing the groom photographing the wedding guests (inadvertently also photographing me photographing him photographing me...).  And so now there is another photo that exists inside his camera of Melissa shooting me shooting him shooting them (etc.).  Phew!

Hopefully will have time to post some full wedding posts soon, but I thought this deserved it's own. :)

Slideshow from this wedding: Stephanie and Chris

San Francisco City Hall Queer/LGBT Wedding: Olivia and Megan!

Olivia and Megan

When my friend Liz told me that Olivia and Megan were exchanging vows at City Hall about 2 weeks after the re-legalization of gay marriage, I jumped at the chance to shoot it.  

This would be my first queer* wedding since Prop 8!  And whereas in earlier years, there had been some LGBTQ "commitment ceremonies" from time to time performed regardless of legal recognition; after the Prop 8 election happened it seemed like most people didn't want to settle for separate but equal anymore.  

There were a few notable exceptions to this (like Erin and Naaz, whose beautiful 2009 Lake Tahoe wedding still moves me).  But for the most part it seemed like the brief excitement of summer 2008, followed by bitter disappointment that same fall, had taken their toll.

So when June 2013 brought both the yearly pride celebration and the triumphant return of legal gay marriage, I thrilled to see who my first post-8 queer couple would be.  

Would couples flood California like they did in 2008, even though  many other states are available in which they could get gay-married?  Would long-established and new, starry eyed couples alike run down to the courthouse to get hitched in small groups?  Or would they plan large, all day celebrations like the weddings I typically shoot?

Well...Olivia and Megan's wedding was a weekday, courthouse style event (what used to be referred to as "elopements," lol), but that didn't take away any of the intimacy or family focus.  On the contrary, I felt as if I fit in perfectly with the small but diverse group of people who encircled the couple, standing in a pool of light illuminated by the circular skylight three floors up.    

Removed from ordinary wedding pomp and circumstance, there spread a quiet authenticity among everyone standing there, which felt both comfortable and precious.  It wasn't "super wild celebration woo!" like some of my 2008 queer weddings: it was just a pure, simple statement of love.  Olivia and Megan's time had come, and that was the energy with which they stepped into it.  Like a long known, much anticipated fate.

city hall wedding = lots of paperwork and waiting.
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the light where they chose to have their ceremony was just perfect.
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gotta love a little comedy: Olivia takes her written vows out from their hiding place, tucked in her garter.  Megan's vows were in her cleavage at the top of her dress.
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the kiss: that split second before the onlookers erupt in celebration
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they threw bird seed instead of rice, which apparently is awesome for the birds and not so awesome for the couple.
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after everything was done we went back into City Hall and up to the fourth floor hallway, which is the best place in the building to shoot single or couple's portraits.  It's gorgeously lit, has lots of different architectural details you can use for framing and background, and is usually empty.
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i can totally see these two owning a house in a few years that has a foyer similar to this shot
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look closer: it's not what you think it is.  Then again, this can also serve as a good message to everyone who would like to see these kinds of weddings disappear.  I really like the combination messages of love(kiss) - commitment(rings), and "just try to stop us" this photo evokes.  
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a note on terminology:  I use a number of terms here to describe those couples whose marriage rights have just recently been restored to them.  Queer is the term I identify with most personally, and that most people in my sector of the LGBTQIA community identify with as well, and I've used it in this post a lot because it is easy shorthand for a number of different non-heterosexual identifications... in contrast to the media-beloved term "same-sex" which not only conflates gender with sex, but is also problematic for a bunch of other reasons outside the scope of this post.  Anyway, no offense is intended to those LGBTetc people who do not identify as queer, or who have had traumatic experiences with the word used as a slur.   
Whether you hire me or not, I will always do my best to respect the identity and terminology you wish to describe you, your partner, and your relationship at all times. 


Here are a handful of my favorite images from my beautiful gay/lesbian/queer couples:

 I'm queer myself, I'm happy to work with your budget, and I'd love to photograph and share with you your laughter, tears, love, and triumph.

Sir Francis Drake Hotel

Stella and David

full set of images 

I freaking love Stella and David. They are awesome.
In honor of the holiday season fast approaching, I give you twelve reasons to prove their awesomeness.

 First of all, the dress and shoe pron.  I love it when my brides give me beautiful designer shoes to photograph with names I cannot pronounce  (these are Badgley Mischka).
Second, they hired one of my favorite florists, Laurel Winzler, although I can't remember whether it was me that recommended her or vice versa.


Third, they really wanted to PLAY.  They made plenty of time in the schedule to do it, they had ideas and energy and a sense of humor and unselfconsciousness.
The following shot took 5 tries.  We did get one with everyone up in the air at the same time, but I liked the expressions and poses in this one best.


Fourth: cool, funny, approachable Rabbi Gershon.
Fifth: the Sir Francis Drake hotel...

...which has great lighting and decor and enough room to let me move wherever I want to around the couple, while still keeping my distance and not being obtrusive.

Omg the food: esp the appetizers.  And the beautiful Starlight Room for the cocktail hour, which leaves no shortage of things to photograph among the interesting lighting and decor.
Sixth: they drew Allison Sigmond as their event coordinator, who was so friendly and accomodating (and took the time to make this beautiful display out of the guest book and event cards I made for the couple).   She also had food out early for me!

Seventh: this ballroom.  If you look closely you'll see that there is a bottle of Russian vodka and a bottle of Couvoisier on every table (as opposed to the typical white and red wine).  This made for a very lively, photographable crowd. 

Eighth: live band!  Who told the whole story of their meeting, courtship, and engagement to the guests before dinner.  This is Stella miming how she turned David down for a date when he first asked her.
And this is David miming how he proposed to her on the beach (but only after retrieving the ring he had accidentally dropped in the sand).
Ninth reason: lots of beautiful visible emotion.

Tenth: they looked so beautiful dancing together (even if I had Billy Joel stuck in my head for weeks).

And they did this:


More of that beautiful visible emotion during the father daughter dance.

Eleventh: they're Jewish, which means dancing the Hora.



And finally, the twelfth and final reason I love Stella and David.  Towards the end of the engagement session we did at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, after being told to kiss for the umpteen-millionth time, they were goofing around and David did this:

After they saw the finished set of images, they ended up loving that shot and putting it in as a whole page in their guestbook.  That shot then became the meme of the wedding day, and they did it at every possible opportunity (with some prompting from me).
Like, during their first look:

During couple portraits at San Francisco City Hall:

And of course, with smooshed cake on their faces:


That is the definition of a great couple, and a great wedding for me.  
Thank you guys, for choosing me to document and be a part of this day in your lives.

venue, decor, linens, catering, and cake: Sir Francis Drake Hotel

officiant: Rabbi Gershon

florist: Laurel Winzler

band: Regina's All Stars

videographer: Well Spun Weddings

makeup and hair:  Melisa Hall

dress: Clarissa Bridal

menswear: Selix