This post is in response to a question we get all the time: when should I schedule my ceremony appointment? Of course, there really is no "perfect" time to photograph at City Hall, our goal is to simply find the ideal balance between light and people. Other things to consider are guests, availability of friends and family, and any plans you may have for immediately after your ceremony.
Since City Hall is indoors, it relies on sprawling windows as its main source of light. These windows diffuse the natural light, resulting in pockets of flattering light throughout the building. Earlier appointments have the benefit of brighter ambient light, but there is still plenty of lovely light later in the day. If you are considering going to an additional location after your ceremony we do suggest having your City Hall ceremony start by 2pm at the latest. This will allow sufficient travel time to the next location after we are done at City Hall. We are happy to provide transportation for up to 3 people for these on-location shoots and can return you to City Hall afterwards.
Below is a picture of City Hall on a Friday at noon. This performance is a part of a series on cultural heritage taking place for the next 5 months at City Hall. From the picture you can see the majority of spectators are tourists, who typically enjoy perusing throughout the building around lunch time.
Keep in mind that City Hall is also a fully-functioning government building. It hosts UN council meetings, protests and rallies, the Giants and Warriors championship parades, and a number of other city functions. There is typically a press release on the official San Francisco City Hall site stating if there will be any kind of closure or event taking place. It is a good idea to check this calendar against your ceremony date to make sure there is no conflict.
The ceremony itself is generally quite short. Rarely do they last more than 5 minutes. Therefore, consider what you'd like to do afterwards (besides shooting with us of course!), i.e. are you planning lunch/dinner? Have you made reservations/arranged transportation? Remember, a little preparation beforehand will save a lot of stress on your big day. Also check out our article on food for ideas on great places to eat near City Hall.
All this being said we have to say that there is no bad time to take pictures at City Hall. Morning, mid-day, or late afternoon all have their own unique characteristics of light and we utilize them to full effect. Book with confidence knowing we will use this light to create the best possible images for you.