The Grand Bently Reserve in SF

I had the opportunity to get to know Negar and Sohrab during their engagement photo session months before their wedding, so when the day finally arrived to photograph their wedding at the famous Bently Reserve I can honestly say I had a quick moment of feeling nervous when beginning the big day.  The reason why I had a butterfly or two is because I had a specific and highly technical portrait I planned out months in advance that was going to be difficult to execute because of where the venue was located, but I will explain more about this later.   

The day started off with the bride and groom in separate suites at the Le Meridian Hotel located next door to the Bently.  After my team and I photographed morning getting ready pictures, makeup being applied, ring and bridal heels photos and separate bride and groom portraits, we then proceeded to begin the first look.

I photographed a first look at the iconic spiral staircase before, which is situated between the hotel and ceremony venue, and I was excited for the opportunity to make this iconic image again.

Sohrab was easy going and great to photograph as you can tell by his demeanor, earlier while getting ready at the hotel we told a few stories back and forth which made for a relaxing day to come.

After the first look the bridal party my assistant and I all boarded a private charter cable car and photographed portraits around the waterfront and Nob Hill areas of San Francisco.

Negar told me that she really wanted a photo of her and her husband crossing the street with the San Francisco Bay in the background, so after directing traffic that seemed to come to a stop to watch our production time and time again; we eventually made another iconic photo.

I wrapped up the cable car photos with a simple lit portrait, my goal here was to include the door frame detail in the foreground.

Then it was on to the ceremony at the breathtaking Bently Reserve.

My third photographer was responsible for creative image capture and did a great job capturing this double reflection of the bride and groom.

The staff recommended by the Bently made quick work of flipping the room into a layout for dinner.  Before the guests entered we completely cleared the room so we could capture a long exposure rich with detail.

Solmaz the wedding planner from Pretty Occasions gave me a quick opportunity to photograph a special bride and groom portrait before the room filled with guests, we chose to go for a moody and dramatic look.

Negar and Sohrab formally entered the reception from atop of the grand staircase and immediately danced their way to the middle of the room.

I've seen first dances many times beginning immediately after the formal introduction but this was incredible, everybody in attendance joined the couple for at least thirty minutes of dancing before dinner was served!  I also have to mention the dancing was beautiful, arabic culture tends to use a lot of raised arms and whimsical hand movements which made for great pictures.

It was fitting to see the couple use a dagger to cut their cake being that Neggar is a surgeon, this was a detail my team and I planned to captured "tight and wide".  

Towards the end of the night during dancing I dashed off to prepare two portraits, this one below was a simple two light setup with one of the strobes colored blue.  Once my assistant and I set up the exposure perfectly I had the couple leave the dance floor for just six exposures, and back to dancing they went.

I love enviromental portraits!  What's the secret to squeezing in a huge building such as the Bently Reserve in San Francisco's financial district when the building is 20' away and takes up the whole block?  There's no secret, yes some photoshop work was done to stitch 5 separate photos together to create this environmental portrait, but what it took was teamwork, four of us to be exact.  We prepared this photo before bringing the couple outside and when it was "go" time, one assistant literally stopped traffic on a busy Battery Street on a Saturday night so I could set up a tripod in the street, while another assistant aimed the softbox at the couple from just 15' away and was removed from the picture in post production.  So, what it takes is a team to create an impressive portrait like this and I can't thank them enough.  This is the image I wanted to make for months prior to the wedding and I finally got my chance thanks to Negar and Sohrab.