Getting married at San Francisco City Hall? Dan Johanson Photography offers special deals for these mid-week ceremonies. Contact Dan through the main wedding website.
Getting married at San Francisco City Hall? Dan Johanson Photography offers special deals for these mid-week ceremonies. Contact Dan through the main wedding website.
Avid readers of my blog will certainly recall Josie and Jimmy's Civil Wedding inside the stunningly photogenic San Francisco City Hall. What a great idea by the way to do both a civil ceremony for just immediate family and then a bigger wedding to celebrate with all the other friends and family. I mean just for the sake of getting pictures in that beautiful place it was certainly worth the extra bit of money, which wasn't much. I obliged to consider that ceremony their "engagement" session which comes with most packages that I offer, and I'd gladly do that for future couples as well since it was such a fun place to shoot. But I digress as this blog post is about Josie and Jimmy's Atherton wedding at Holbrook Palmer Park, a charming spot in it's own right that was just perfect for this unique celebration. You see Jimmy is from Peru, where he met Josie who was teaching English in his home town. It was important for these two to incorporate a bit of Peruvian culture into the mix and they found a caterer that did an amazing job. Congrats to Josie and Jimmy!
So excited to wrap up Corey and Michelle's Save the Date film for their wedding website! The photos from their Napa Valley engagement session are here in a previous post. Our shooting locations were basically the town of Healdsburg, Jordan Winery (amazing place for a six figure wedding), Hawkes Wine and White Oak Vineyards, which was the only place that has both an impressive Mediteranean-style winery and a picturesque vineyard. Not all "wineries" have vineyards and not all vineyards have wineries next to them, so I learned. Shooting this film was trickier than usual with a spring thunderstorm passing through and because my wife came along as an assistant, that meant we brought the baby which (note to self) actually means I end up working without an assistant...that and Corey and Michelle insisted that I do wine tasting with them, so if there is a camera shake here and there it's your fault you two!
Andy and Julianne have one of those engagement stories straight out of a movie. Julianne was in Siem Reap, Cambodia for a medical stint at a children's hospital and while she was due back in the U.S. in a matter of days, Andy simply couldn't wait to ask for her to marry him. With a ring in hand, he flew half way around the world. He pulled off a complete surprise and obviously endeared himself even more to Julianne. They dined at the Khmer Kitchen, a place where my wife and I have also eaten (upon hearing their story) while passing through Siem Reap last December. After dinner, in the back of a tuk-tuk, he asked for her hand in marriage. She said yes and they flew home together a short time later and began to plan the sacred day that they celebrated last April 3rd. They chose a really gorgeous wedding venue, the Casa Real at Ruby Hill Winery in Pleasanton. It's a wedding photographers delight to work at a place like this, especially when it's coordinated by Alyssia and her team--probably the most accommodating, professional and organized wedding venue in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'll post a wedding venue review soon, which will definitely be glowing in every way.
The wedding was on a warm and beautiful day, which afforded the possibility of using the Casa Real's courtyard for their ceremony. The wedding photography is always a bit tricky when the sun is so high in the sky and casting harsh shadows on faces, but we pulled off a few tricks and got a bunch of snaps that I hope they enjoy for the rest of their lives.
Also check out the Album design sneak preview!
Andy and Julianne opted to see each other before the ceremony, which I highly recommend to anyone getting married. Unless they believe in the power of superstitions, this moment is a wonderful, intimate moment that couples can have privately before the busyness of the day takes over. It also makes for some great photographic memories, as well as help reduce the amount of time doing portraits after the ceremony when they're anxious to get to the reception.
Looking for a wedding photographer for your wedding at Casa Real? Dan would be happy to discuss all your engagement and wedding photography needs at a no-obligation chat over coffee near your home or work. Contact him here or check out his Wedding Website for more information.
I immediately felt a special bond with Jimmy and Josie over coffee a while back as I learned more about their story. Jimmy comes from Peru and met Josie while she was working there. A long distance separated them when Josie returned to the U.S. but their love for each other only grew stronger because of it. Funny how that works. Hazel and I felt our relationship was made stronger when I lived in the U.S. and she worked in Japan. Jimmy came here on a fiance visa which means they had to get legally hitched within 90 days. Somewhere they heard about how beautiful a civil ceremony / wedding can be at the San Francisco City Hall. The arcitecture on the outside is sort of typical "capitol" looking but the real beauty is found on the inside. It reminds me more of a cathedral than it does government building and makes for a stunning location to have a small public ceremony. There are locations though that afford a virtually private location, such as upstairs where many of their couples portraits were taken (the last few shots at the bottom). The officiant will allow you to choose between several locations, including the popular rotunda. The tricky part for a solo photographer is that the ceremony is quick and there are plenty of stairs to negotiate to get both the wide and close up shots.
We offer special San Francisco City Hall ceremony photography packages - Contact us at our wedding site for more details
Paul and I go back to 2006 when our paths crossed in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. It's a lonely place in Central Asia and we hung out, going on photo walks together, usually followed by a nice beers at the local German hofbrauhaus. Paul happens to be the son of my current director for an organization I work with, The Navigators. But that had nothing to do with coming out and shooting his wedding for free. Actually Paul graciously sent a check, which he didn't have to do since he came out and shot our wedding for free two years ago. He's also photographing weddings while wrapping up graduate studies and if you need a great photographer in Denver, look no further than Paul. Say you want an outdoor wedding in Denver around mid January -- we'll they figured out a way. The Butterfly Pavilion just north of Denver is like an indoor jungle, complete with humid, warm air and hundreds of beautiful butterflies flying around. The only downside is the lighting is absolutely terrible. It's by far the most challenging venue, in terms of lighting, that I have ever shot a wedding. Gee thanks Paul. We pulled it off thought because they were ok with some flashes going off at certain key parts of the ceremony. I normally would never ever flash a ceremony, but Paul completely understood it needed to be done.
After the ceremony we headed over to the Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver, where they had checked in and were staying a few nights. The place is gorgeously decorated with Christmas lights everywhere which fortunately hadn't yet been taken down. It's a dim place so again some portable studio light was required, which is never easy to when I'm working solo, but it worked efficiently and got the shots we needed in less than 20 minutes.
I did Paul and Krista's engagement photos literally about 26 hours before their wedding and we were totally happy with how my new "Save the Date" video came out. Thanks you two for a wonderful weekend and I can't wait to cross paths with you again -- hopefully in Denver or San Francisco and not in Bishkek!
Assuming one has the "eye", understands how to use light, and can relate easily with stressed out brides and grooms, there's just one essential component left for the professional wedding photographer: Gear. As we all know, photographing a wedding is a one-shot deal. There's no second chance. And within a wedding itself, there are dozens of fleeting one-shot moments that can't be redone. Capturing them well will earn the raves and praises from our valued brides and grooms, but missing them due to inadequate equipment will result in lots of free Saturdays for the rest of the year. Clients trust us to get it right and if you're thinking of getting into wedding photography, a substantial investment needs to be made if you want to have any chance in making this a career.
I just finished putting together a Wedding Photographer's Gear Guide that will hopefully help people buy equipment that best fits their style and budget.
I've been wanting to offer something a little extra for couples for their engagement portrait session. Introducing the "Save the Date" video which can be posted, emailed, or made into a DVD. The feedback is super positive and I am thrilled that I can provide a little something extra for couples beyond the standard set of portraits. Featured in this film are Paul and Krista from Colorado. Paul and I spent time together in Bishkek, Krygyzstan back in 2006-07. I was thrilled that he asked me to photograph their wedding, which took place a day after this engagement shoot! The backdrop here is beautiful downtown Denver, which was quite chilly this January afternoon. But we turned it out and capped off the day with some great beer at the Great Divide, a second home to Paul who knows way too much about beer. Good thing Krista loves beer too!
I have to admit, I didn't know what a Chinese wedding was until I met Michael and Jessica. Though I have lived in Asia for more than 12 years, I had not even heard of this "tea ceremony" they were talking about. While I still don't know all the symbolism involved, the tea ceremony is hugely important and honors both the bride and groom's parents. At two separate locations, Michael and Jessica knelt and with the assistance of a relative, served their parent(s) hot tea. In return, they received the special red envelopes (cha-ching!) and that was it. In both ceremonies, we were done in a minute or two. How cool is that! Off we went for wedding pictures, but not before Jessica slipped on her beautiful wedding dress. We had plenty of time for photos at the Legion of Honor, Baker Beach and the always beautiful (but very crowded) Golden Gate Park. These places are always a great place for wedding party pictures and for good reason -- they are stunning locations and the overcast day made for some fantastic light.
As a non-Chinese, it was a big honor for me (and my video crew) to capture Michael and Jessica's sacred day -- thanks guys! If you're looking for a San Francisco wedding photographer or video coverage for your Chinese wedding, let's discuss your big day!
I'm really blessed to have such great couples to work for. Sarah and Bill are really such a sweet couple and planned a really fun wedding. Bill is a police officer and a few of his groomsman were also police. So it took them a while to loosen up, but by the end of the evening even the most stoic officers were getting downright silly on the dance floor. Hey guys -- I'm holding onto a few of the pictures in case I need to get out of a traffic ticket. The bride and groom preparation was at the Walnut Creek Marriott (also a nice place for weddings!) and I have to say a word about the room they got for the Sarah and the bridesmaids. While they probably could have gotten by with getting the standard room, it was so much better that they paid perhaps just 50% more to get the suite. It's great because it afforded them a lot more space to get ready, reduced the confinement and stress level, and it also makes the photography so much better when there is room to work. I could set up my light stand and diffuser which made a huge difference in the quality of the light when doing Sarah's portraits. In a smaller room, I probably could not have done this and while the pictures would have been adequate, they would not have been that great.
We were off to St. Anne's Catholic Church in Walnut Creek for the wedding ceremony, which was officiated by Sarah's uncle. It's different when someone as close as a relative can marry you -- the love and personable touch helps the bride and groom relax a bit. A few pictures following the ceremony, which thankfully was possible because the rain had stopped by that time. We were then off to The Gardens (Heather Farms) in Walnut creek for the wedding reception. This place has all kinds of portrait possibilities and thanks to clouds, we had perfect light. I get asked frequently about couple's wedding photography in the event gloomy weather. While rain can be a challenge, clouds make for a wonderful diffusion of light and eliminate harsh shadows on peoples faces. They make for great portraits and are a photographer's best friend.
Thanks Bill and Sarah for choosing Dan Johanson- Weddings for your wedding photography needs. Take care you guys and look for a card on your anniversary!
Here are a few of my favorites from your wedding, but there are even more at their wedding website I just made for them. Enjoy!
In the wedding photography business, we're not dealing with a Chinese take-out order or a refrigerator repair, we're handling the memories from the most important day in people's lives. It's no small thing. But simply getting great photographs is almost the easy part of the day. And I would argue the more challenging task is helping to manage the anxiety and tension that will undoubtedly surround bride and groom. It's the photographer mind you, that is with the couple the whole day, from bridal preparation in the morning all the way through to dancing in the evening. No other wedding vendor will spend so much time with you on a day that will be exhausting, exhilarating and full of rushing, waiting, and anticipation. It's a day like no other and finding a compatible, professional photographer is one of your biggest and most important choices.
The odd thing about finding a wedding photographer is this: some of the best photographers are not very social people. In fact, the hobby and profession of photography attracts people who are introverted. So most of us, myself included, we work on our ability to relate and communicate with clients in a way that puts them at ease. Wedding photographers might not be the witty, funny types, but make sure that your guy/ or gal has sufficient communication and relational skills to make your wedding day as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.
The bigger corporate photography companies hire talented photographers, but you probably won't know who exactly will show up on your wedding day. Paying $5 to $10k to these companies in no guarantee that you'll receive the kind of service you'd expect for that kind of money.
Case in point:
I just had to email you to let you know that this weekend Nick and I were in a friends' wedding at the Dublin Ranch Golf Course--they hired a gigantic corporate photography company to do all of the wedding photography (Bella Pictures). I just had to to tell you that the photographer was horrible.....she was really rude, kept missing all of these shots (and even asked us to redo a few moments to catch them on camera) and even yelled at Nick and the grooms' mom when they had a suggestion about a photo opp. She didn't know anything about the couple....including that they had a baby together and she didn't even do any candid shots. She stuck to her list of "must have" shots and didn't take anything else.
So, with that being said, Nick and I looked through our album and watched our wedding DVD the next day and still can't get over how GREAT you and Paul were at our wedding. We feel really bad for our friends because they are never going to know what a good photographer is! We just are so thankful and blessed that we had you guys catch our special day. You two are the standard that we now judge everyone from! I did recommend you to our friends, but I guess they wanted a cookie cutter photographer with a bad personality.
Hope you and Hazel are well--I'm sure you two are getting close to having a little one...only a few more weeks, right?
[Dan Johanson] Photography completely gets the need to help grooms and brides minimize the stress going on around them. Dan and his team are drama-free, personable and do whatever it takes to make your day more enjoyable while capturing exceptionally great photographs.
I never knew anyone who met their future spouse on public transit until Rhodora and Brent contacted me about their upcoming wedding. They were riding BART to their jobs in San Francisco...a conversation started... and the rest is history. So random at first but then destiny stepped in and laid out the course for their lives. I love stories like that. These guys have really creative ideas for their upcoming wedding in Portola Valley this December. I won't give those details away yet so their guests can be surprised. On our engagement shoot, we started at a small park near Brent's office where they often have lunch. From there we of course had to go back to where it all began -- the BART train! Then we went to this super awesome ally, a photographers dream location, and got some really sweet pictures. And of course we had to drop by the place Brent proposed, Dolores Park which has the San Francisco skyline in the background.
Our team of photographers and videographers are shooting their wedding in Portola Valley in December and can't wait to put up their highlight video and wedding photos. Thanks Rhodora and Brent for the great engagement shoot and look forward to seeing you soon!
I almost forgot -- since they already had a wedding website, I just made them a simple gallery website with all the best photos from the day. Thanks guys for a super unique engagement shoot!
The weather said showers in San Francisco, and ok I was a little concerned. Not that we couldn't get great pictures, but because I was afraid Andy and Julianne would think twice about pushing thru. Well I obviously didn't know them very well because they were totally game no matter what the forecast said. How cool is that? I love them for taking a risk with me and we ended up having a great time and lots of nice pictures! These engagement portraits are all from one general area around Palace of Fine Arts / Crissy Field on a misty September afternoon. Check out more of their photos at their wedding website I designed, which is included in all my wedding packages. Can't wait guys for your wedding at Casa Real next April!
Steve and Shannon's Wedding at Eagle Ridge Country Club in Gilroy was a blast. First off though, a quick word about the venue, which was really great in many respects but lacking in a few. Let's start with the good things about it -- The ceremony setup is just off the golf course and right next to the club where the reception hall is located. So there's no long walks and no place really for people to get lost. This is important when taking the formal pictures and some venues make it impossible to find people who have wondered off. In the afternoon sun, there isn't any backlight to deal with because the sun sets behind where people sit and the light on the bride and groom is just perfect, so long as it's not a mid-day wedding. The only tricky shot here though is getting the bride walking down the isle and getting her exposed correctly with the sun right behind her can be a challenge. Eagle Ridge is very picky about not stepping on their golf course. The event manager there told me that the G.M. has been known to go ballistic if he sees anyone doing this for wedding portraits, so I was warned not to bend their rules in the slightest way. Fair enough and there are indeed enough other places to do portraits.
The reception hall is fairly typical and the staff are on top of their game. All my needs were taken care of efficiently (though we're only talking about a request for a table and chair for my slideshow presentation). They do have an LCD projector, so that was nice that I didn't have to break out my own equipment. Slideshows of ceremony highlights are always a big hit and make for a great lead-in to the program after dinner.
Well thanks Steve and Shannon for a great day. You guys know how to party! Your wedding at Gilroy Eagle Ridge was awesome and I'm so pleased you are happy with your wedding photography!
Michael and Jessica are by far the biggest Giants fans I have ever met, crazier than even my brother Matt who wrote two books on the team. Being a Giants fan myself, I was totally down for their engagement session at the ballpark. These guys brought signs, jerseys and lots of bubbly energy that made for some really fun pictures. And after a quick eat, we headed to Union Square for some night portraits before calling it a night. What a great time guys -- look forward to your Chinese wedding/ tea ceremony!
I'm finally getting around to posting these pictures from Tanzania that I took during my Africa trip in March. The Kenya portion was posted here. Having our first baby and moving from Japan to California -- all in less than 3 months -- took more energy than I could have ever imagined! I took these photos while documenting Compassion International's Child Survival program, which is wonderful and effective outreach to marginalized young mothers and their children in Tanzania. This is how it works. Compassion Int. staff, along with community and church leaders, identify the most needy and form them into small groups. They meet at least once a week to receive encouragement, spiritual guidance, livelihood training, and enough nutrient-packed porridge to feed their baby for the week. The latter is actually prepared by the women themselves, by mixing a variety of beans, nuts, and flour and placing them in sacks to be transported to the local mill. By the next meeting, the porridge will have been milled and measured equally among the women. The allotment will provide a hearty meal for either a nursing mother, or if old enough, their baby as well.
The stories of these women were almost more than I could bear to hear. Like the first woman in these pictures. I found out after photographing her at church that only days before her husband was killed in a motorcycle accident. Widowed with such a young child, she's facing a long and difficult journey in a country not able to provide any form of assistance. Her and the baby desperately needs the mercy and love that Compassion International is providing.
Compassion does amazing work and is by far the most effective organization I've seen that breaks the cycle of poverty, one family at a time. No matter your religion, if you're not doing something about eradicating poverty, God called and said you have to. Really.
Stepping down from the soap box right.... now.
More pictures uploaded here
There's a crazy challenge some photographers inflict upon themselves called "365". It's a picture a day of anything for one year and can be of any subject or theme. It can be random life, like my friend Paul's 365, or it can be quite specific and collaborative like this one on clouds. I've long resisted doing this simply because it takes time and lugging out the camera gear every day seems like such a chore. But a funny thing happened to me last week that has given me great motivation to do a 365. We had a baby. I won't fill up the blog here with a picture a day, but rather upload a collage every week or so. I hope to put up tips and behind the scenes info for folks to try out with their cameras at home. I'll occasionally put away my expensive gear and demonstrate how to take pro photos with a $100 point and shoot. Check back and leave a comment on what you think!
While talking to Nathan and Daphna a few months before their wedding, it was obvious they wanted something more than to hire me as their wedding photographer. They wanted a friend first and made me feel like one, even inviting my wife and new born to join their sacred celebration. How sweet is that? These guys are precious people inside and out and it was an honor to capture their most special union. Thanks guys for choosing Dan Johanson-Weddings to capture your beautiful Redwood Grove wedding!
A bit about the venue -- they could not have picked a more serene location for their wedding. Who knew that just above the U.C. Berkeley campus lies a grove of beautiful redwoods, just across the street from the Botanical Gardens which made for endless portrait possibilities. Nathan and Daphna got permission in advance to take some of their portraits at the Botanical Gardens, which is really a stunning place for endless wedding-portrait-type of shots. It's not open however for weddings, which everyone does across the street at the Redwood Grove amphitheater. For weddings or any other event it's pretty much a photographer's dream location with lots of indirect light that makes for beautiful, artistic wedding photographs.
"Dan Johanson, Welcome Home!" read the huge sign being held by a staff from Compassion International. After a long red-eye flight to Kenya, it was a comfort to have someone waiting for me. And to be welcomed as some kind of long-lost family member was a great feeling, though a bit strange too as I don't believe I have any African heritage. Nonetheless, the people of Kenya are wonderfully warm and hospitable despite the widespread poverty that most continue to endure. Working "on-loan" to Compassion was really a wonderful experience on so many levels. First, they are an organization that simply does no better job at demonstrating mercy and love to those born into poverty. With over a million children sponsored, Compassion is one of the bigger groups that provides weekly bible programs as well as meal programs, medical and educational resources. And if a sponsored child achieves certain academic scores, they even have a chance for a full university scholarship. My assignment in Kenya was to document a few of their scholarship recipients (see some profiles below) as well as their Child Survival Program in Tanzania - will post that later. Their stories are truly inspiring and a credit to the hard work of Compassion's staff and the sponsors that enable the ministry.
Once a sponsored child graduates from high school, they have the opportunity to apply for the Leadership Development Program, which provides a full four-year scholarship to any university. These are some of the LDP students I spent time with at the University of Nairobi.
599 Blackhawk Club Drive Danville, CA 94506-4522 (925) 736-6550 Get directions
For the Bride/Groom: We really like Blackhawk as a wedding venue because it provides ample space to move and a good photographer shouldn't be in anyones way at this place. Great service and the on-site coordinator is on every last detail. If you'd like a more techie review, please read on but don't forget to check out our article on getting the most out of your wedding photographer.
Photographer's review: This venue certainly is one of the more posh locals in the East Bay and works well for larger weddings. There is plenty of room to move around and the staff are very helpful and responsive to every need. The place is fancy and elegant, which is perfect if you like that sort of thing. It does not have the old, classic sort of feel. The ceremony area is usually set up so that the front is angled into a "V", which makes it challenging for the photographer to get bride/groom faces. The angle that seems to work best is actually from behind and below the patio, near the shrubs. Then a telephoto can shoot up through the black iron railing to capture the bride reactions during the ceremony. The groom shot is tougher, since that same angle from the behind the patio would put you in the water. The ballroom is spacious but high ceilings won't help much to bounce your flash. They have an in-house projector and screen but no digital video connectors for Mac (we bring our own).
One knows on the drive into the Blackhawk Country Club that they're not in Kansas anymore. The treelined road approaching the club has by far the largest mansions we've ever seen and provide interesting possibilities for portraits. The entryways to any number of these homes could grace the cover of Sunset magazine.
Lighting notes: East Bay in the summer means there probably won't be clouds. Prepare for harsh light and hot day during the summer. The reception ball room has high, wood/ white painted panelling.
Equipment Body: Nikon D3, D200 Lenses: Nikon 12-24 2.8, 70-200 2.8, 16 2.8 fisheye, 85 1.4 Flash: Nikon SB900, 40" umbrella Pro-line projector & 60" portable projection screen (not used since BH has in house projection)
Click here for pictures from our Blackhawk weddings. If you're looking for a wedding photographer for your Blackhawk wedding, it's Dan Johanson Weddings for any venue in the Danville or San Francisco Bay Area.