This is part 2 of our blog post about the best San Francisco City Hall wedding photography locations. We have already explored the Grand Staircase, the Mayors Balcony and the 2nd Floor hallway. There are so many great places to take our brides and groom for photos at city hall it took 2 separate posts to talk about all of them. Here are a few more favorite city hall backgrounds that have developed over the years:
3rd Floor North Windows – City Hall
Why do we love the 3rd floor so much for city hall wedding pictures? It’s definitely the incredible light. The soft light that comes in from these north facing windows is soft, warm and complimentary. We can do so many things with this when it comes to posing the newlyweds. It is like having your own natural light portrait studio. In addition to the lovely light, and nice backgrounds, the 3rd floor is frequently the best place to escape to when San Francisco city hall is busy and crowded. It is not as well known among beginner town hall wedding photographers and so many of them do not venture there. Just last Friday, which was particularly busy, we tried to take our couple around the building and kept running into crowds. The 3rd floor was the answer to our problem and we spent a good 20 minutes there! Here is a list of some of our favorite options for San Francisco city hall wedding photography on the 3rd floor:
- Bride and groom in front of the window with soft back lighting
- Bride looking out the window with natural light on her face
- Separate bride and groom on each side of window looking at each other
- Bride and groom in the hallway using the window for natural lighting
- Full length bridal portraits using window light to highlight veil
- Showing the back of the wedding dress in front of window.
To summarize the 3rd floor, its not one of the places that most people think about when it comes to city hall wedding pictures, but it is a fantastic place with great light. The 3rd floor windows are quite ornate, however, so many of our couples do like that for a background in many of their images. So this magnificent window serves a double purpose.
SF City Hall 4th Floor North Gallery
Besides the Grand Staircase, this is probably one of the better city hall wedding photography locations in the building. It certainly is the favorite of many couples because of the beautiful architecture and direct light. The huge windows become a primary light source that literally wraps around your subject. In portrait photography terminology, it is like having a giant Soft Box to light your subjects. You can shoot portrait style close up images on the 4th floor and blur the background or you can get out the wide angle lens and display the amazing ceiling architecture and the city hall dome. It really is one of San Francisco’s most iconic picture taking spots but you have to have the proper camera equipment to truly capture it. The North side often provides softer indirect light while the South side can sometime have sunlight streaming through the window and onto the floor. If you are wondering why camera equipment would be so important on the 4th floor its largely due the need for strong lighting for particular shots. If you are using the window itself for light, not additional flash is needed. However, if you shoot into the window, then you can get what I call ghost images because the backlight is so strong. A powerful studio type of flash will easily cure this problem.
Front Entrance with City Hall Sign
This is the photograph that virtually all of our couples want. They see it on other websites and they always request it. Since we usually save this background for the end of our shoot, we sometimes will receive questions from our bride and groom. “What about the City Hall Entrance?” As though we might forget it or don’t normally make it part of our normal portfolio of shots. They are always quite relieved to hear that we are saving one of the best shots for last! We do this on purpose because it keeps us from having to go back through the building security again. It really is the perfect ending shot to a perfect San Francisco city hall wedding photography shoot. I also personally like the symbolic nature of this iconic wedding photograph. You can call it a celebration of the newlyweds completed nuptials. Another way to look at is to think of the couple venturing out into a new chapter in both of their lives. There are SO many photos we often do outside of the building in front of this famous doorway. Here are a few samples:
- Groom Lifting Bride
- Groom and Bride happily walking out through the door
- Bride and groom cheering
- Bride and groom jumping
- Newlyweds kissing
- Funny / silly poses if the couple wants them