Photos like this are only available during certain time of the year. This is because the sun position doesn't always allow the light to shine in directly to certain floors. In the winter time, the sun travels lower along the horizon which does provide more direct light. As long as it is not foggy in San Francisco, the sun is always bringing beautiful light into the building, but there is a big difference between the quality of light at certain times of the day or year. A lower sun position will create harsher and patterned light coming through the window with only the glass making it softer.
The photo above is a great example of how this can work. In this case, the sunlight is shining right on the couple, but it is not overly harsh. This picture was taken on the South side of the building which frequently will allow for shots like this which create a "modeling" affect on the bride and groom. If I remember correctly, this shot was in direct sunlight, but it was slightly hazy that particular wedding day. This gave the light just enough filtering to create this fantastic image. A sunny day may have created too much harshness in the final image. The other alternative if it was completely sunny would have been to take the newlyweds on the North side of San Francisco city hall. There is more indirect lighting on that side of the building, which is always the case with North facing windows.
Lighting is really the whole key to effective San Francisco city hall wedding photography. Whenever you see a photo that really strikes you as amazing, chances are the lighting is dramatic in some way. Perhaps it is over the top lighting or maybe it is just subtle. Either way, light can make or break a wedding photography image. It is no different at San Francisco city hall! Fun and creative posing is also important, but the light is what really sets an image apart. What I love about this building is that offers so many options in terms of lighting, both natural and using flash.
The way we use professional lighting at city hall is in a very subtle way so you really don't even know that lighting was used, but the results are better because of it. In my opinion, if you know that a flash was used in the picture, then you have used too much. No form of artificial lighting should ever be obvious to the viewer unless the wedding photographer is attempting a special effect. I try to make my professional off-camera lighting look as natural as possible. By setting up the light in a creative way, it can mirror window light. Even when no window is present in the photo!
Another use of SF City Hall windows to create fun images. The brides were celebrating their nuptials in this photo and I placed them in front of the cool windows on the 3rd floor. Our fun LGBTQ couples added more to the image as well. I always love cheering shots. It always makes the viewer smile and kind of root the brides on!
Yet another way to use these beautiful SF city hall patterned windows to enhance the couples wedding photography images. We also placed a remote flash behind them to make it even more dramatic. That strategically placed light is what is creating the beautiful glow in the bride's veil and the train of her gown. It can be fun to take these kinds of lighting chances to help create beautiful and dramatic wedding images. Silhouette images always make a strong impact. One of the best things about digital wedding photography is that we can preview the shot when we take lighting risks like this one. In the film days, this wasn't possible.