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5 Key Tips to Know Before Photographing City Hall Weddings

Author: Libby - Printique by Adorama

We’ve all heard the song ‘Going to the Chapel’. However, for some couples they pass on the chapel all together and march right up the steps to City Hall to make it official and they are hiring professional photographers to capture the intimate occasion. It’s a trend that is on the rise. We sit down with wedding photographer Lilia Ahner of Lilia Photography who gives us the 5 key tips to capturing the intimate occasion.

1. Tell us a little about yourself

For the past 9 years, I have photographed weddings in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. I am a hybrid photographer as I shoot both digital and film. My photographic style is a mix of fine art and documentary. My clients tend to be creative couples with an independent sense of personal style. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Communication and studied Graphic Design as well as Fine Art Photography in college. Before my life as a wedding photographer, I worked as a web designer for many years.

2. Your wedding photography for city hall marriages is truly beautiful, what is is about them that you enjoy?
The best part about City Hall weddings is that it’s a little bit more of an intimate relationship that I have with my clients. I get to spend more one-on-one time with them versus a bigger weekend wedding. San Francisco City Hall is one of the most beautiful places to get married in the world. That makes my job easy when the surroundings are so lovely and historic. One favorite aspect is that I get to meet people who have traveled from all over the world to get married at SF City Hall. It’s nice to share the city and it’s history with them.
3. For those interested in this type of photography, what tips do you have? 
  1. Know your camera very well! I shoot manually all the time. Know the ins and outs of your gear. Practice, practice, practice! Weddings are a fast moving type of event so the more prepared you are, the more confident you will be and at ease.
  2. Scout your location: Before I ever photographed a City Hall wedding, I went there in person to see every bit of it for myself. There are so many wonderful interior and exterior spots for photos.
  3. Plan your shoot: Be prepared and visualize the different parts of the wedding day. Know where you are taking family shots after the ceremony. Plan exactly where you’ll take your couples for their portraits. Have a plan and be prepared and things will go more smoothly! Your clients will  appreciate that you are prepared and a take charge person. They want your guidance and expertise and will appreciate that you made their wedding day go smoothly.
  4. Have backup gear: Even if you’re using top notch gear, it will fail eventually! I have had this happen on occasion, and luckily I always had extra gear to use without missing a beat.
  5. Have fun: Have a positive and cheerful attitude. Even though weddings are a serious occasion, your clients will appreciate that you were positive and fun (yet professional).


4. What are you currently working on?
One of my main personal projects is flower photography with the Contax 645 camera. One of my favorite places in San Francisco is the Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. The botanical garden has flowers, plants, and trees from all over the world. It’s fun to pop over there to see what’s in bloom since it’s different all year round. On occasion, I use the Hoya macro filters with the f/2 80mm Zeiss lens. The bokeh is beautiful with that lens and I love the dreamy look of film. You can view my personal flower project on my Instagram account at https://www.instagram.com/liliaphoto/
5. What’s in your camera bag?

Thank you Lilia for the inspiration.  If you would like to see more of Lilia’s beautiful work you can check out her website HERE.  Follow her on Instagram HERE.  Or give her a “Like” HERE on her facebook page.