Premiere Bay Area Wedding Photography Blog by Trifon Anguelov Photography

1090 Clark Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94040 | (650) 930-0743 | http://www.trifonanguelov.com


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Tips For Choosing Wedding Photographer


Bridal Preparation at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Bridal Preparation at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

 Ask any bride or event planner on what they consider is the most important thing when planning a wedding and the majority would mention selecting the right vendors was the most important decision they had to make. A complex and budget constrained event as a wedding requires highly skilled and experienced vendors in order to make it successful. Hiring the wrong vendor can cause the whole wedding to easily become nightmare and very stressful.

While many couples hire a wedding planner to help them with selecting and hiring the wedding vendors this might not be feasible for many other couples. As many couples decide to research, screen, interview and hire vendors on their own, they are faced with an important decision to make: Who is the appropriate vendor to hire? Who to screen and what are the questions to ask? What I should be looking for and how to determine what makes a good or bad wedding photographer?

So many questions and surprisingly there are not easy to understand guides available. I have photographed many weddings in the past and had the opportunity to meet and interview many couples and wedding planners in the past, there were six criteria which started to repeat consistently a wedding after wedding:

  • Availability
  • Cost
  • Photographer’s Personality
  • Photographer’s Experience
  • Photography Style
  • Image Quality

I hope by explaining each one of these criteria and why they are important when selecting a wedding photographer would help any bride or groom looking to make the right vendor’s choice. The criteria are ordered by importance in my view but you are free to probe and eliminate in any order you find applicable to your wedding.

Availability:

You have found online or got a solid referral to a wedding photographer you like. Great! Seems like your search is over.. Well, not exactly until you called the photographer only to find out your wedding date is actually already booked and he is not available. So before you go into deep research of anything else related to the photographer and its style, pricing, image quality, etc, ask the simple question: Are you available for my wedding date?

If yes, great. You just got closer to hiring the photographer you like. If not, you might have to consider other photographers in the area. Unless you are willing to postpone or change the date of your wedding when the photographer is available.

Cost: 

So you cleared the first hurdle of hiring a wedding photographer: Availability. Great! Now hold your breath and tread with caution. You are not there yet.

Before you all get excited about how cool and understanding the photographer is, how exactly he or she matches your personality and photography style taste, there is one important question to ask: Cost. Unless you have unlimited wedding photography budget or willing to stretch your budget or sacrifice lets say food, venue, flowers, etc in order to sign the photographer you like, you might have to make a choice.

If the cost of the wedding photographer is not something you can afford, there is no point to invest more time into pursuing this photographer. Unless you must have it and willing to make adjustments to your budget, or go over budget.

Wedding Ceremony at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Wedding Ceremony at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Photographer’s Personality:

Time for the third criteria on the path to hire your wedding photographer. So far you confirmed your date is not yet booked on his / her calendar and the cost is something which works for your budget. I can see you smile and understand how you might breathe easier now. So after phone conversation to clear the first two, you are finally set to meet the photographer in person and talk about your wedding.

Well, good for you. There is nothing more important than meeting and interviewing your vendors face to face. After all, you will be hiring someone who will spend at least 6 to 8 hours with you, will be around when shed tears of joy and excitement, when your father and mother see their little girl or boy take on life on their own and kiss & hug you, when your friends cheer from happiness and you party all night long. So if you are looking for someone who:

  • You can like simply like a human being and get along with
  • You have the feeling understands your needs and you can trust to capture the best moments of your life
  • You think would be liked by your parents and friends
  • You feel like belonging to your wedding

then you need to like your photographer for the person he or she it is. Do they listen and understand what are you trying to say or keep going like a broken record according to their script and trying to push the services and products they can offer? Are they fun to be around or anti-social ignorant to your needs “photography artist” who treat you like you know anything about what you need? Do you get the warm feeling that this is a person you would meet outside of your wedding and have funny and pleasant conversation with? Do you think you can trust that person to deliver on its promises or he or she gives you murky and incomplete pieces of information and vague answers.

Take your time to probe this in-depth and trust your gut feeling. If you don’t feel good about it now, the chances are that later you will not only not going to feel better about this person but you will also feel sorry for choosing it.

Photographer’s Experience:

And here we are. Availability: checked,  Cost: checked, Personality: checked. Seems things are going smooth for you after all. Lucky or simply you are so good at picking vendors. Time to check the next criteria: Experience.

Why does experience matter you might ask. Well, your wedding photographer would provide an important service on your wedding and 99% of service based activities are mastered by practicing. Like a swimmer who wakes up at 4:00 am every morning and swims for miles in order to perform at its best, or like an actor who rehearses its act over and over and performs in front of live audience night after night, the practice makes it better. There is no pill or app for wedding photography experience. Skills are learned and perfected over long period of time, so if the photographer you are considering has little or no experience with weddings at all, you might be making a big mistake.

No or inadequate experienced vendor will stumble when faces with fast paced and challenging event like a wedding, might miss important moments of your wedding, or might not know how to capture your beauty and emotions in a pleasant to look later way. So don’t underestimate the importance of previous experience. One more reason not to hire uncle Bob for your wedding.

Wedding Reception at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Wedding Reception at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Photography Style:

We are getting closer to narrow down to the right photographer for you. I can feel your excitement already. So what’s next? It’s something which cannot be easily explained in words as photography is a visual art: Style.

Like the latest fashion trend or designer clothing. I am sure this is natural to every bride. The feel, look and mood of each photo is either matching or not matching someone’s visual taste. Some like highly saturated colors in images, so like more mute and washed off colors. Some like the sunny and dreamy look of golden sunlight while some like more well-defined and contrasting transition between highlights and shadows. As the saying goes: The beauty is in the eye of the beholder. No right or wrong. You have to like the photography style the photographer has and can show you examples of from his or her previous work.

You will receive lots of wedding images and if you order, a wedding album with your favorite wedding moments captured forever. There is no way to change these images later. Either you pick the right photographer for its style or you will spent plenty of time after your wedding hating your wedding photos. Make the right choice!

Image Quality:

Congratulations! You have navigated successfully and feel pretty good about finding the wedding photographer you think is right for you. Before, go ahead and sign the contract, there is one more thing to consider: Image Quality.

The easiest way to see how your images might look is to visit the photographer’s portfolio and see the most recent examples of his or her work. Are the images in focus and you can see the details clearly? Are the people in the images have accurate skin color and don’t look orange like pumpkins or green like zombies? Are the images clear of distractions like partial body parts and are they aligned without tilted horizons and trees?

As this is very subjective criteria, again apply your own judgement. The chance is if you like the past photos most likely you will like the images from your wedding too. If not, try to explain your expectations. You need your wedding photographer to listen and explain how he or she can make them happen. If you feel like being convinced politely that this is not possible or doesn’t make sense, ask for explanation. After all, you will be the one looking at your wedding images over and over. You have to like them from the very first look and even years pass by.

 

Wedding First Dance at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Wedding First Dance at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

 

Conclusion:

Selecting wedding photographer for your wedding is a time involving and step by step process. It requires time and energy to get it right. There is also not a one way to do it, neither there is a one wrong and one right way of doing it. It’s similar like a buying a new car or picking a dining place for Friday’s night. What might work for some could turn out to be completely not applicable for others.

The six steps I listed about are just few of the criteria to focus on when picking a wedding photographer. The point is that better educated and armed with knowledge brides are more likely to make the right decision that the one who decide to “roll the dice” and trust the vendors would do the right thing.

You also need to be aware of the ways not to fall prey to wedding photography scams. For more on this topic, make sure you read the two parts guide on How To Avoid Wedding Photography Scams:

I hope this article helps brides in their planning and selection of vendors. If you are looking for additional information on how to plan your wedding day, make sure to read my Wedding Photography FAQ Guide.

If you found this information useful  and think your friends could benefit from it, please share it by using the multiple sharing options on the bottom. Agree, disagree, have comments or feedback? Think I am missing a point or two or three? Drop me a line in the comments section and I will consider adding it (with full credit to you, of course).

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a premiere wedding and events photography business  based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in San Francisco Bay Area, CA. To review his portfolio and most recent work, visit his website.

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How To Deal With Bride’s Wedding List of Images


Wedding Ceremony in Capitola, CA

Wedding Ceremony in Capitola, CA

Like a wedding photographer working for few years already with couples in San Francisco Bay Area, you can say I have seen it all.

From relatives who cannot stand each other but have to play it “nice” on their favorite niece’s wedding, to divorced or in divorce parents who barely can crack a smile when around each other, to friends for whom there is only one thing to do on a wedding: consume as much alcohol as possible. The wedding formals are challenging for most of the wedding photographers.

So no wonder that many wedding photographers dread the notion of taking formals (or group) portraits during a wedding. Imagine a single photographer having to chase down and pose guests who not only do not like to pose but also do not like each other.

And, yet each wedding season many brides who during the pre-wedding consultation would bring a print outs or shots list with favorite wedding images. The list is supposed to be a “must have” gospel of what a photographer should capture. Good idea, but not always possible to achieve.

To have a list of formal photos is usually a good idea, except for the cases when it is so hard to pose everyone because of whatever reasons. Being of not willing to cooperate or eager to hit the cocktail bar for drinks. Still this could be managed somehow. The more troublesome trend which I have seen lately is also with bride’s list for bridal portraits, bridal portraits and all other sorts of photos as details: wedding dress, ring, shoes, etc.

Why is troublesome you might ask. Here are four reasons in my view:

1. Creativity Cannot Be Created With a Recipe:

Imagine walking to a restaurant to taste the chef’s master piece and special, but instead of trusting chef’s creativity and talent, you are handing him over an ingredients list and step by step recipe on how to cook the meal. So don’t be a that type of bride. Hire the right photographer and allocate enough budget for a wedding photographer who will create amazing images and let him do just that.

Related: Wedding Photography Styles Explained

2. Weddings and Couples Are Unique:

What brides do not realize is that all the images they collect might have worked and looked good for the couple they were created for. Each client is unique and all wedding images capture the special moments and the personality of the couple photographed. Like clothes do not always look to their best on everyone, so the poses and looks heavily depend on the people involved.

3. Photographs Are Created With a Vision:

Wedding photographers are creative bunch. By forcing them into a cookie cutting pattern, their creativity and talent are severely constrained. Instead, of trusting their years of experience and judgement to create and capture the best look and feel of a wedding, they are asked to reproduce something which someone already created. Imagine how Leonardo Da Vinci would have felt if a client brought a drawing and asked him to carve a sculpture just like that.

Maid of Honor and Best Man Photo at Wedding Ceremony in San Francisco, CA

Maid of Honor and Best Man Photo at Wedding Ceremony in San Francisco, CA

4. Because Life Happens:

Weddings are non-choreographed events and many of the moments are spontaneous and sincere. To capture the true feelings and moments, requires concentration from the photographer and anticipation of the moments. Having to think about the client’s list of images while capturing the real moments can be exhausting. The photographer’s brain will get tired even before he or she started the wedding.

So here is the bottom line from a wedding photographer point of view. Brides: spend a good amount of time to find, interview, and hire the best photographer you can afford.

By best, I mean, someone who has the experience and the style you are looking for. Someone who you can trust and not having to micromanage. Let this photographer’s creativity and talent, create a unique and amazing images. Trust him and he will delight you greatly. Even if you try to micromanage the whole photo taking process, this could do more harm than good.

Conclusion:


I hope this article helps brides not to fall into the trap of constraining their wedding photographers into a long list of images he or she should take. I hope is educational and bring awareness why photographers cannot be canned and framed easily and why photography is a creative process. For more on the topic, make sure to read this Wedding Photography FAQ Guide.

If you found this information useful and think your friends could benefit from it, please share it by using the multiple sharing options on the bottom. Agree, disagree, have comments or feedback? Think I am missing a point or two or three? Drop me a line in the comments section and I will consider adding it (with full credit to you, of course).

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a premiere wedding and events photography business based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in San Francisco Bay Area, CA. You can review his current Weddings Portfolio and Book an Online Appointment for one of his services.


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Wedding Tips For Brides From a Wedding Photographer Point of View


Wedding Ceremony A wedding photographer has the advantage of attending more weddings and have experienced first hand some of the best and worst moments during a wedding than every bride or groom alone. I have been photographing many weddings as primary and as a second shooter for primary photographers to consider myself somewhat knowledgeable about the process. Over the years, I have observed and mentally recorded many of the pitfalls that a bride and a groom make while planning their weddings.

Some are simply the results of inexperience or lack of a wedding planner but other are made because not everyone considers or understands what a wedding photographer might need in order to produce great looking wedding pictures. Even small mistakes could impact the photography of your special day in a negative way.

‪This blog article is an attempt to document some of the wedding planning mistakes and provide a list of tips each bride and groom could consider while planning their wedding. This is by no means an exhaustive list of anything that should be considered or planned for but it is something which could help each couple and make their experience and wedding pictures much better.

So here is the list of things you should consider:

1. Smile Is Something That Makes Your Pictures Good:

It’s as easy as you being happy and smiling over small things that can ruin not only your wedding day but your pictures as well.  It’s the best day of your life and you most likely have been dreaming about it since you were a little girl. Your pictures will look much better if you forget about all the things that can and will go wrong on your wedding day and enjoy the moment with your future husband, family and friends. I observed that brides who are giggly and smiley and actively trying to be pleasant have more genuine and exciting pictures than perfect and model looking bride who is gloom & doom, trying to macro manage her wedding day and focused on every single task the whole day.‬

2. Be Yourself and the Real You:

Hair extensions and super long eyelashes look cool but when it gets to be too much sometimes it looks unreal and fake on your pictures. You will be pictured for generations to come and if you still would like to look real, it is a good idea to apply hair extension and eyelashes in moderation. This is actually more common than you think.‬ The wedding is about you and your groom and all guests come to your wedding because they respect you for the real person you are.

3. Make Your Getting Ready Room Comfortable:

Bringing too many people in your getting ready room might sounds like a good idea and lots of fun but it actually makes the room overcrowded and hard to work in. The photographer needs to be able to move around and capture the moments from different angles and points of view. If the room is overcrowded this is almost impossible with all the bridesmaids and other people in the room shielding the bride from all directions. If you have to invite everyone, then consider booking an over sized room so there is a room for everyone and room for the photographer to move around and take artistic images. Overcrowding and artistic, free-flowing and open spaces pictures don’t go hand to hand.

‪4. Go Easy On the Makeup:

No doubt each bride looks much better with make up than without it. You most likely would hire an experienced makeup artists and hair stylist or enlisted a relative who will put a facial makeup for you. However, it is a good idea to do a make up rehearsal before your wedding day for two reasons: First you would know how long would it actually take to get it done as you would like to and second, you will be able to see it and make any changes of the look before the wedding in case you don’t like it. As a rule of thumb: Less is Better. Ask the makeup artist not to apply way too much makeup especially an eye makeup. Highlighting the eye is perfectly fine but not when the eyes are way over emphasized and turn in to big black holes.‬

5. Consider No Pockets On Your Wedding Dress: 

No matter how trendy or unique look having pockets on your wedding dress might sound, it might not be a good idea to start with. Not that the pockets themselves are bad idea but it’s when you put your hands into these pockets and they stay there for most of the day. Let’s face it. Unless this is your third wedding or you were a wedding actress for years, you will be quite excited and may be bit nervous during your wedding. And guess what people do when they are nervous? They tend to stick their hands into their pockets and keep them there. Bride with hands into her wedding dress pockets causes the hips to look over sized on the wedding pictures simply because it adds to the body shape and form. It is also easy to cause the bride to slouch a bit which again doesn’t look very well on the wedding photos.  With no pockets, the bride will most likely reach out and hold her husband hand, touch her hair or wedding ring which is much more pleasant to capture than slouching. So day no to the option of having pockets on your wedding dress. You would appreciate it later.

‪6. Mind Your Hair Style:

Consider your hair style and how you would look at the wedding pictures is important. During the wedding ceremony, you will be on the left side of your husband and your right side of your face would be facing the guests. Many of the images of you and your husband will be taken from the guests point of view, so if you plan to have a little cute trestle of hair hanging down all on the right-hand side of your head first the guests will not be able to see your face and second all the pictures of you would have your face half covered by the hair trestle.‬

7. Tame The LED and DJ Lights Urge:

LED and DJ lights are cool and fun but they also color everyone’s faces and clothing. Photography is about capturing the light so all these lights over your dress and face will be captured and in your reception photos. There is no magic wand to take them away in post-processing. If you plan to get your reception completely dark and have lots of LED and DJ lights, be prepared to have these all over your face and dress on your wedding pictures.

‪8. Give Your Guests Some Space:

Be mindful that each venue has maximum occupancy and trying to invite as many guests as the venue’s capacity is a recipe for disaster. Getting everyone seated, serving the food, plus having your photographer and guests move around will become nightmare. If your tables and guests are packed shoulder to shoulder imaging how they would feel and how a photographer will move between the tables to photograph them.  Leaving about 25% free capacity is a good idea for not having guest’s chairs pressing back to back against each other and your guests to feel uncomfortable.‬

9. Formal Pictures Need Planning and Participation:

If you are keen on having beautifully arranged and choreographed formal photos from your wedding, please don’t plan them during the reception. I know it is tempting to save time and skip allocating formal group session for everyone and instead hoping to get group pictures during the wedding reception. It is not a good idea and here are few reasons:

  • The cocktail hour is right after your wedding ceremony and before the reception and people after having to attend a 45-60 minutes ceremony tend to get tired and what a better way to calm down their nerves and reduce their stress level than heading down to the bar and have a drink or two, may be three. So if you postpone the group pictures to after the cocktail hour and during the reception, most of the gusts a photographer has to photograph would be half-drunk, looking tired and all sweaty.
  • Imagine having to gather 15 or so people around the reception area. All of these people have to put down their cocktails, appetizers and interrupt their conversations only to have a group photo. No wonder most of the people attending group photo session during the reception look very unhappy or with grossly fake smiles. Do everyone a favor and time the formals accordingly.
  • The task to locate and bring all the family members into the formal photo area is a is chore on its own. Instead of taking the formal pictures right after the ceremony (as I recommend and strongly suggest you to consider), you or your wedding coordinator now have to chase everyone around the reception hall and bring them for the formals.
  • Imagine the level of noise and distractions in the reception hall. You will expect everyone in the formal pictures to look into the camera and smile while there are noises from all the loud conversations and funny faces bystanders or family members would make to each other. What usually happens is that no one looks at the camera and the formal pictures end up as a complete disaster

The solution to all these problems is to plan to have everyone you wish to be into the formals pictures for your wedding, stay in the formals area and have these photos taken right after the ceremony (with a gap of 10 minutes allowing anyone to visit the restroom or catch their breath after your 45 minutes ceremony). For more information on the wedding group pictures, you can read this article: Wedding Photography Styles Explained

‪10. Know Your Wedding Party Mix:

No one knows your wedding party than you and your groom, and maybe the both sides of the parents. If most of the people invited on your wedding party, don’t like or usually dance on family events, investing lots of money in huge dance hall and DJ, might not be a great idea. Could be that other activities on your wedding would make more sense and would let them enjoy your wedding more: cigar bar, photo booth or photo wall, setting up Guitar Hero on a projector, etc.  Not every wedding party will rock the dance floor and if people are mostly sitting around while you and your groom are trying to get them to dance, you would feel awkward after a while, wouldn’t you?  Accept that you cannot change the wedding party, access their interests accurately and plan your wedding party accordingly.

11. Leave The Posing and Photographing to Your Photographer:

Trying to dictate what makes a good photo or not is not always a good idea.  A professional photographer has years of training and experience or posing people and creating good compositions at every situation and location. He is being paid to know how and where to pose you and your party, so: Trust him or her to do the right thing. If he or she doesn’t, then you have a wedding photography contract to protect you from missed or not well posed pictures. Many times as a photographer I have been told, “Taking our images at this beautiful rose garden at noon would look great” or “This old gazebo would look great in our pictures” However all the beautiful colors a bride see would look wash off at noon time simply because the light is way too harsh. It’s the sunlight and harsh shadows which will not make this a good idea. And yes, the gazebo in the middle of a parking lot filled with cars and surrounded by an office buildings would be a distraction for whoever latter looks at your photos.  You hired a professional photographer for their experience and skills. Trust your photographer and you would appreciate it later.   ‬

12. Bridesmaids Are Fun But Not Always a Helpful Bunch:

Don’t over relay your bridesmaids to help you during the day. Best idea is to get planning coordinator or assistant. If you cannot afford one, ask your siblings or immediate family to help you with this. Keep in mind that your bridesmaids will be too busy having fun, and getting themselves ready, than to really focus on helping you out with getting ready. Sure, when things fall apart, they will move the Earth to try to get your wedding on track…  but by the time it has gotten to the point that they notice things aren’t going perfectly for the bride… it might be already too late. You will be frustrated, behind schedule and who needs that on a busy wedding day anyway?

13. Plan a Buffer Time Between Your Venues:

A wedding happens on multiple locations (venues) and you and your family, friends and guests will move from a location to location. It’s best to plan a time gaps between these location to allow your photographer to prepare for each venue. To transition from a dark and in most cases no flash photography churches, synagogues or mosques to bright sunlight outdoors for after the ceremony pictures, requires time for the photographer to adjust. The same when you enter the dark and cramped limo to take you to the reception venue. Grand entry, first dance, etc. Work with you wedding planner to add small gaps of 10 minutes between venues to allow ample preparation time.  It will mean day and night difference and allow light stands and additional flashes or strobes to be setup and ready for you when you arrive.

‪14. Keep Your Photographer Informed:

On your wedding day you will be surrounded by vendors who you personally interviewed, got to know and trusted to do the services you expect from them. Plans can change and this is OK. If you or your wedding planner decided to do something in the last moment, please consider letting your photographer know.  Most likely you would expect to have pictures of this surprise or new additional event to your wedding. An experienced photographer will know how to handle even little things like running super fast into the hall during the grand entrance and trying to get the wave going.  Giving heads up to your photographer even if this is a 5 minutes of lead time would mean he or she is prepared and will capture the moment. By no means is this an ask not to be spontaneous.‬ Just a communication and giving heads up to others so they are ready to take the images of it.

‪15. You, Adequate Time and a Photographer Result In Great Pictures:

Allocate time to your photographer as you do for your guests, fun and party. When a photographer ask you: “There is a beautiful light right now. Can I borrow you and your groom for 15 minutes? It will be well worth it” trust him or her and find time away from your party. Photographers rather have multiple 15-20 minute chunks of time spread throughout the day (especially some time around dusk when the light is soft and pleasing) than a one large chunk of 2 hours at 12pm or 2pm in one location.‬

16. Prioritize Your Wedding Time:

Consider how much time you wish to allocate for pictures and how much for the rest of the wedding day activities or your guests. If you wish to have pictures of every single moment of your wedding and expect these moments to be carefully choreographed and executed, you need to allocate time, energy and patience for it. This will mean your wedding would be like a modeling photo shoot and your wedding photographer will be on the front stage of everything you do. However if you expect your wedding photographer to simply document the real moments of the day and how all of your guests where there to celebrate your love and passion to your husband, then you might want to discuss this with your photographer and plan accordingly. This would mean less formal and posed images and more candid and genuine moments captured in your photos.‬ For more on how much photography time is required during each stage of your wedding day you can read this article: How To Prepare For Your Wedding Day

‪17. Trust Your Vendors:  

On your wedding day trust your vendors and the advise they are providing.  If you did your research right and hired the competent people, why not allow them to do their job.  Sure they have much more experience performing multiple weddings in the last while this is your first wedding most likely.  So, kick back, enjoy your day and let your year worth of planning come to fruition… Don’t drive everyone crazy by trying to micromanage them and impose your own view, which might not be always the right one.

Conclusion:

I hope you found these tips useful and easy to understand. If you appreciate the insights and think this information might be useful to anyone who is planning or might plan their wedding in the future, please share it by using the multiple sharing options on the bottom. As many people learn about these tips and consider them, everyone’s wedding images would be better eventually.

Agree, disagree, have comments or feedback? Think I am missing a point or two or three? Drop me a line in the comments section and I will consider adding it (with full credit to you, of course).

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a Premiere Bay Area Wedding and Events Photography business  based in Mountain View, CA 94040. He has been serving clients in San Francisco Bay Area since 2010. You can follow him on social media (links in the top right sideblock of this blog) or check his latest photography projects on his Wedding and Portrait Photography Site