San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photos – Susan & Tom

A week ago, Susan and Tom were on the beach in Hawaii, on a pre-honeymoon honeymoon I guess, when Susan noticed a San Francisco City Hall wedding had just posted. She hadn’t yet thought about getting a photographer for their upcoming elopement so she reached out to me immediately. I was available on her wedding day of Tuesday, 4.18.17 and here you go!

 

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San Francisco City Hall Wedding Photos + Corona Heights Portraits with Stephanie and John

We always love photographing weddings at San Francisco City Hall. The place is just gorgeous. And there are so many spots to shoot inside that it never gets old.

We had the pleasure to photograph Stephanie and John for their city hall wedding on April 10th, 2017. We followed up the wedding with a trip across town to Corona Heights with amazing views of the city. It was a great place to finish a beautiful wedding experience!

SF City Hall exterior with bride and groom entering under City Hall sign.
SF City Hall exterior with bride and groom entering under City Hall sign.
Signing the marriage license and holding hands in City Hall
Signing the marriage license and holding hands in City Hall
San Francisco City Hall Wedding
SF City Hall wedding portraits
San Francisco City Hall Wedding
SF City Hall wedding vows.
San Francisco City Hall Wedding
SF City Hall wedding portraits
San Francisco City Hall Wedding
SF City Hall wedding portraits
Corona Heights Wedding Portraits in San Francisco
Corona Heights Wedding Portraits in San Francisco
Corona Heights Wedding Portraits in San Francisco
Corona Heights Wedding Portraits in San Francisco

Windy Hill and Stanford Engagement Photos with Monique and Joe

We just had the great pleasure of spending the day with Monique and Joe to make their engagement photos on Stanford University campus and up on Windy Hill in Portola Valley, California. What a day!

Monique and Joe came to me as a referral from a friend (Joe’s brother) and we immediately hit it off. They are very genuine and down to earth. They know what they want and they enjoy each other immensely. If you share these character traits, please call me and hire me for your wedding too 🙂

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Stanford campus is amazing for architecture…

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It’s also amazing for nature…

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Then, they introduced me to a new location that I had not photographed before. Windy Hill on Highway 35 outside of Portola Valley. Awesome!

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And the sky really put on a show for us…

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Rock on, MoJo!

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Top Secrets to Amazing Wedding Photos

Top Secrets to Amazing Wedding Photos

The first step to getting great wedding photos is choosing the right photographer.  You’ll be spending a lot of time with you photographer on your wedding day so you want to choose one who is fun to be around all day.  And of course they must be professional, reliable and able to make amazing photographs.

We recommend reading our blog post, aptly titled “How to Choose a Wedding Photographer.” 

So then after you have selected the perfect photographer, there are some important tips you can follow to get the best possible photos – with the least possible stress – on your wedding day.

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Tip #1 – Do the Engagement Session with your Wedding Photographer.

The engagement session is very valuable for several reasons.  Don’t skip this because you want to save money.  You’ll end up paying for it on your wedding day in the form of less awesome photos and overall experience.

The Engagement Session is your opportunity to get comfortable with your photographer’s personality and style of direction.  It’s like a low risk rehearsal for the wedding day.  By the end of the engagement session you’ll be at ease with the photographer and the camera.  You’ll know the photographer’s lingo and how to follow their direction to make you look your best.

Building rapport with your photographer is so valuable and the engagement session is a great way to do this.  Your expressions will be much more relaxed and natural if you know and like the photographer – especially if they are photographing you getting dressed! 

While the wedding photos are relatively formal with ceremonies and formal portraits, the engagement session can be rather informal and really show your individual style as a couple.  This is your last chance to capture what you were like when you were dating your spouse.  Take advantage of that.

The engagement photos are also great to use for your save-the-date cards and for your guest sign-in book.  Our clients love the engagement sign-in books which are small albums with room for guests to write personal messages around the photos.

Please see our blog post titled “5 Great Reasons to do an Engagement Photo Session

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Tip #2 – Hire Professional Hair & Makeup Artists

The camera doesn’t lie, girls!  If you want to look your best in your wedding photos, if you want to look better than you’ve ever looked before, don’t do your own hair and makeup and don’t just have a friend do it unless they are a pro.

Your face is the hero of your wedding day photos.  Don’t trust it to an amateur. You deserve to look gorgeous!

We have seen hair and makeup nightmares that traumatize brides and bridesmaids and haunt them for years.  Professional stylists know how to prepare you to be photographed at your best.  Makeup for photography is not the same as makeup for going out at night.  Please let the pros make you up.

Tip #3 – Allow Extra Time for Hair and Makeup

We love professional stylists but must say that they are not good estimating how much time it takes them to do their job.  I’ve never photographed a bride who was not delayed by hair and makeup – sometimes by two or more hours!

There are a thousand distractions on the wedding day that will delay you and your stylists.  You can avoid these delays by allowing more time for hair and makeup. 

A good rule of thumb is to ask the stylists how long they will take and then double or triple that time.  This is not solely because it will take them that long to do the work but also because you will be distracted and delayed while they are working on you. 

If you will be going out to a salon or other outside location for hair and/or makeup, make sure you allow plenty of time for getting from one place to another.  As explained above, traffic and parking can eat up a lot of valuable time.

Tip #4 – Get your hair and makeup done FIRST

Your stylists may suggest that the bride gets her hair and makeup done last so that she is fresh for the ceremony, this is NOT the best idea.  The bride should be finished earlier so she is has plenty of time for getting-ready photographs and bridal portraits before the ceremony. 

We suggest that you plan to be fully made up 2-3 hours before the ceremony begins.  This allows time for relaxed getting-ready photos, portraits and First Look photos.

Tip #5 – Do First Look photos before the ceremony

You may want to be traditional and not see the groom before the ceremony.  However, there are wonderful benefits do doing the first look before you walk down the aisle.

The moment you first see your partner on your wedding day will be incredibly special whether it’s before or during the ceremony.  Why not have that special moment in private, away from the distractions of the ceremony and guests so you can truly focus on each other?

When you have a first look moment before the ceremony, you get a rare moment alone together with your partner when you can kiss and hug and talk – really soak them in.  This may be the only time you get alone together for the rest of day. 

Most couples are the most nervous until they see one another for the first time and then the butterflies leave their tummy and they feel warm and relaxed.  The first look allows you to reach this relaxed state before you walk down the isle.  You may then enjoy the experience of not only seeing your groom at the other end of the isle, but also enjoy seeing your family and friends welcome you as you enter.

The cocktail hour usually follows the ceremony so if you’re off taking family photos, you’re missing this time with family and friends.  You’re paying for those cocktails so it would be nice to enjoy one or two, wouldn’t it?  By doing a first look before the ceremony, you open the door to completing some or all of the family and bridal party photos before the ceremony as well.  This frees a lot more time after the ceremony to enjoy the cocktails – or at least allow your family and bridal party to enjoy them while you and your partner shoot some romantic sunset photos.

Finally, if the quality of your photographs is important to you then the pre-ceremony first look is the best possible way to ensure great photos of the moment you first see each other.  When the photographer controls the setting and the lighting, the photos will be perfect and there will be no one blocking the shot or distracting either of you from the magic of the moment. 

Our preference is that our couples have their first look before the ceremony and most of them do.  However, the most important thing is that our clients are happy and we handle the first look any way they wish. 

Tip #6 – Designate a Family Finder

What is a Family Finder?  Well, that’s the person who helps gather family members for the group photos.  Your photographer will not likely know your family and will need help pulling them together for the group photos.  Assigning this responsibility to a friend or family member will allow the group formals to be completed much more quickly and efficiently so everyone can get to the cocktails that much sooner!

Tip #7 – More booze = Slower photography

Having a little bubbly while you’re getting ready can really enhance the mood and be very fun.  However, photographing a drunken wedding party is like trying to herd cats.  If possible, encourage your wedding party to use at least a little restraint until after the ceremony.  The photos will go faster and everyone will be off to the party sooner.

Tip #8 – Minimize Time Between Locations

The more time you spend getting from one place to another, the less time you have to make awesome photos.  Plan to have the ceremony and reception as near each other as possible.  If you can also do all the photos at the same location then you will save a lot of time.  If you can’t do it all in one place, try to have everything as close as possible.

Tip #9 – Carefully Plan the day with your photographer

An experienced photographer will work out a detailed timeline with you and your planner that ensures there is enough time to get the kind of photos you want.  This timeline must be realistic and take into account all of the time-sucking challenges outlined above such as traffic, parking, weather, etc.

We have a detailed timeline worksheet that we put together weeks, or at least days, before the wedding.  Just be careful that your planner doesn’t make a last minute change that breaks your photography timeline.   Ten years from now, you will not care which end of the table the cake was sitting on but you will care if you didn’t get the sunset portraits you always dreamed of.

Tip #10 – Have your flowers ready at photo time

Be sure to have your flowers delivered to wherever you are getting ready so you can have them in your photos.

Tip #11 – Have comfortable flats to wear

You will probably not want to wear your high heels the entire day – especially when you’re running around shooting photos in a grassy park.  Bring some comfortable footwear to use until we do the shots that show your gorgeous new wedding shoes.  Your new husband wont mind looking a little taller anyway, right?

Looking Fabulous for the Camera

Tip #12 – Get a truly flattering dress

You will be spending a lot of money on your wedding gown so do make sure it flatters you and makes you look better than you’ve ever looked before. Strapless gowns are very popular and they look fantastic if they fit well.  Watch out for any bulges in the wrong places.  Take an honest friend with you dress shopping so you can get a reality check if needed.  A true friend will tell you if you look like a muffin stuffed in a wedding dress. 

Tip #13 – Hail the Veil

The veil, while maybe too traditional for some, is great for photographs for several reasons.  It is certainly a definitive bridal accessory and really screams “Hey, look at me!  I’m a bride!” 

The veil is also perfect for subtly hiding things that you’d prefer not to show prominently – namely, the arms and neck.  Even the skinniest of brides often complain that their arms or neck look fat.  This can be expertly addressed by a good photographer and a veil.

Tip #14 – Closer is Bigger

If you don’t want your butt to look bigger than it actually is, shift your weight to your back foot and push your hips away from the camera.  This tip applies to any body part.  Whatever is closest to the camera will look bigger!

Tip #15 – Slimmer from the Side

Turn your body so the camera sees the side of your waist – it is much smaller from the side than straight on.  This is true not only for your waist but also for your shoulders and hips.  Guys may want their shoulders square to the camera so they look bigger but most women don’t want to look broad so remember to avoid facing your body square to the camera.

Tip #16 – Lean in to look Lean

Leaning back can make anyone look like the Michelin Man!  So, to get rid of the extra chins, you need to slightly lean forward from your waist up.  This also makes your chest bigger than your hips which most of us want.  Lean in to look Lean.

Tip #17 – Roll ‘em Back to remove the Rolls

If you’re wearing a strapless gown, then you run the risk of looking like a snow cone or the top of a muffin if you don’t roll those shoulders back!  Only the super skinnies can get away with that high fashion forward shoulder roll.  So, make that expensive dress look its best by rolling your shoulders back.  This will also accentuate your bust line – just in case that’s of interest to you.

Tip #18 – Show them Big Sexy Eyes!

Your eyes will look bigger and more beautiful if they are open a little wider.  To do this without looking like someone just pinched your bottom, I suggest lowering your chin slightly while doing the Lean (Tip #3).  When you lower your chin, you’ll be looking up a bit to the camera which opens you eyes and makes them look much more bright and sexy.

Tip #19 – Breathe!

Remember to breathe.  Don’t purse your lips or furrow your brow.  Breathe through your mouth with your lips slightly parted.  This will keep your face relaxed and your expression natural.  You’ll also enjoy the process much more!

Tip #20 – Relax!

Finally, if on your wedding day, you draw a blank and you can’t remember any of the tips above, just shake it out, do a silly dance and relax.  Think of the camera as a good friend who’s trying very hard to flatter you –  you beautiful thing, you!

About Jim Vetter Photography

Jim Vetter Photography is a high-end, experience-driven wedding studio based in Fairfax, CA and serves California as well as destinations worldwide.           

We specialize in sharing amazing experiences with our clients as we create the most beautiful images.  Our style has been described as intimate, elegant, emotional, and fun. We capture the essence of the relationships between you and your spouse and your guests because we believe that these types of images really tell the story of your day.

Our clients love and value great photography and fabulous experiences.  If this describes you, we’d love to hear from you!  Please visit us at www.vetterphotography.com, email jim@jimvetter.com, or give us a call at +1.415.789.6150.

Maternity Photos with Julia on Mt Tamalpais in Marin County

This secret location high on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County is one of the San Francisco bay area’s greatest photographic gems. I have made some of my favorite images up here, including another maternity session just a few months ago. This maternity session is one of my all time favorites. I hope you like it too!

 

Julia had met me a few years ago at a wedding fair. She had wanted me to photograph her wedding at the time but I was out of her price range back then. When the time drew near to do a maternity session, she reached out to me again. While I certainly love doing maternity photography in the studio, I was so excited that she wanted to do an outdoor session and I knew of the perfect location.

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If you’d like to do a similar session on Mt Tamalpais, please give me a call!

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NACE SF Gala 2016 at the SF War Memorial Green Room

We had a great time with our friends at the San Francisco NACE (National Association of Catering and Events). This is the big annual gathering of the local chapter and was a gorgeous event.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the night.

War Memorial Green Room Photos

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Noe’s Nest San Francisco Wedding Photos – Rene and Joe

We photographed an intimate wedding at Noe’s Nest Bed and Breakfast in San Francisco for Rene & Joe. They are both from Saint Louis, Missouri but wanted to have their ceremony in San Francisco. (excellent idea!) After the ceremony the party moved to Finnegans Wake in Cole Valley. A very cool bar loved by many locals and travellers alike.

 

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Marriage Proposal Photos at Kirby Cove in Marin Headlands of San Francisco

I’ve been wanting to photograph a marriage proposal and recently had the opportunity when groom-to-be Sri asked me if I could secretly photograph his proposal to his girlfriend Ashwini.

Sri had his friends go to the beach at Kirby Cove and setup a little white tent with pillows and fruit where he would get down on one knee and present the ring. As you can see from the photos, she was genuinely surprised and certainly said “YES!”

Don’t you just love the expression on Ashwini’s face when she realized what was really happening?

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Congratulations, Ashwini and Sri!!

Wine and Roses – Lodi – Wedding Photos with Dianah and Juan

Wine & Roses in Lodi, California is such a beautiful venue for a wedding. This is the second wedding that Jim Vetter Photography has done at this amazing location. Our first wedding there was in 2012. It was a pleasure to be back!

 

Dianah and Juan met us at a wedding fair in San Francisco early this year. We were delighted that they entrusted us with their wedding photography. It is truly and honor to photograph this huge occasion for our clients!

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Dianah made all of the bouquets and boutonnieres herself! This is some pretty awesome DIY.

 

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The bride and bridesmaids had the beautiful Deodar Room at Wine & Roses. This large suite has a big patio surrounded by huge trees. The light was AMAZING on the patio and we were able to get gorgeous photos out there all afternoon before the ceremony.

 

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In the groom’s own words… “She is one of the most interesting, fun, outgoing people I have ever met, not to mention athletic. She knows how to take care of her friends and family, and would give up everything for them. There’s never a dull moment when she’s around, that’s for sure.”


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Dianah and her Maid of Honor, Melissa have been very close for a long time. So close that they have matching ankle tattoos.

 

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In the bride’s own words… “Juan is very loving, responsible, fun and carefree. He has strong family values, a great sense of humor, and a willingness to try anything new. Juan gets along with anybody and everybody! He’s incredibly hardworking, practical and considerate. He never forgets a birthday, holiday or anniversary, and is always very reliable. He’s the greatest guy I know!”

 

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This wedding and its wedding party had a LOT of character!

 

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The ceremony was held in Wine & Roses Wedding Garden. The image below was taken just before the ceremony. It is such a great spot for a sunset wedding!

 

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Dianah and Juan wowed the guests with some serious ballroom dancing as the made their grand entrance. They even finished it off with a big dip!

 

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Thank you so much, Dianah & Juan for being the most amazing clients. We love working with you!

Wedding Professionals:

Wedding Coordinator & Venue & Catering Julie Clemings – Wine & Roses – http://www.winerose.com  – (209) 371-6117
DJ Robert Tinoco – aceentertainment510@gmail.com – http://www.ace-ent.com/bio/ 
Videography Brian & Jessica – jessica@brianandjessicaimages.com – http://www.brianandjessicaimages.com 
Cake Maker Fizz Bakery – Tiffany – fizzbakery@gmail.com – http://www.fizzbakery.com 
Hair and Makeup The Spa @ Wine and Roses – spaconcierge@winerose.com – http://winerose.com/spa/the-spa/ 
Bridal Gown David’s Bridal
Photo Booth Victor Macaspac – Pinoy Pics – www.pinoypics.com/ 
Photography Jim Vetter Photography – http://vetterphotography.com  – 415.789.6150