Frequently Asked Questions
My team and I love telling stories with photographs. We provide the most ideal combination of real unscripted genuine moments AND artistic creative portraits AND gorgeous photos of architecture, details, and decor. We will create a wedding photography story that will remind you of what your wedding day felt like.
We are fine art wedding photographers. This means that your final images will be more than just incredible individual images, they will also tell the story of your wedding. Our images are artistic, unique, and compelling. We have a timeless blend of documentary style and journalistic photography with creative posed portraits and amazing photos of landscapes and details.
All great wedding photography stories are born out of empathy. This is why we always start by listening and getting to know your story.
My team and I have been so fortunate to photograph more than 225 weddings here in the SF Bay Area, throughout California and the USA and in more than 15 countries around the world.
This incredible professional experience has enabled us to develop and fine-tune systems for doing things that will make working with us easy, stress-free, and most importantly – fun.
Every step of working together is designed to make your wedding photography experience intentional, highly detailed, and extraordinarily convenient.
Here are a few things we do exceptionally well to achieve this:
- Drew and our entire creative team are the perfect combination of professional and relaxed – making us reliable, dependable, and fun to be around
- we have detailed pre-planning meetings with you
- we will help to build a day-of timeline and will coordinate with your planner to keep the day flowing and worry-free
- we location scout and visit venues prior to the wedding to find the best photo spots and to better understand the place
- our client portal is an easy to access and secure web page where you will be able to find all of our important planning documents and contracts
- we respond quickly to emails and texts
- our systems for post processing mean you’ll receive your finished images fast – in less than half the time of industry standards
- we make sharing your wedding photo story simple and easy with a password protected online gallery, a custom mobile app gallery, and easy to download final JPGs that are watermark-free
From pre-planning to photography on the day of your wedding to final image delivery and album creation – you can rest assured that you are working with top level professionals, imaginative artists, and a creative team that is trustworthy, dependable and fun to have around. But, don’t just take our word for it. Feel free to read reviews from our past clients here.
My creative team and I have photographed more than 225 weddings over the past ten years. We have experience photographing nearly every kind of wedding celebration you can imagine in every kind of setting you can imagine.
We’ve photographed really fancy black-tie weddings and multi-day weddings, elopements, micro weddings, San Francisco City Hall weddings, multicultural weddings, backyard weddings, adventure elopements, redwood forest weddings, beach weddings, art gallery weddings, church weddings, synagogue weddings, Indian (Hindu) weddings, Jewish weddings, Persian weddings, Ethiopian weddings, and everything in between.
We have photo’d weddings at incredible venues throughout the San Francisco Bay Area including Napa vineyard weddings and Sonoma rustic farm weddings and epic Lake Tahoe mountain weddings to classic venues like The Pearl and The Berkeley City Club and The Julia Morgan Ballroom and quirky venues such as the Madonna Inn.
We’ve also photographed weddings at incredible outdoor venues in the Bay Area like the epic Muir Beach Overlook, the Hyatt Carmel Highlands in Big Sur, The Brazilian Room in Tilden Park, Deer Park Villa, The Purple Orchid, Hacienda de las Flores, and the Marin Art and Garden Center, amongst many others.
Our wealth of experience is an asset to you and all of our new clients. No matter the size, scale, location, or type of wedding you are planning, our creative storytelling team would love to chat more about your wedding plans.
Drew also photographs for a wide ranging clientele for editorial and corporate projects. You can view his non-wedding work here. Drew also provides branding and marketing photography (journalistic in style) for schools and universities.
We are also proud members of the following organizations:
- Wedding Photojournalist Association
- Fearless Photographers
- International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers
- A Practical Wedding
Yes. Have Cameras + Will Travel. We are based in San Francisco and Oakland, California and have photographed weddings and other projects all over the state of California, the USA, and the world.
In the past few years we have photographed destination weddings in Nicaragua, Aruba, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Lake Tahoe, New Orleans, New York, Vermont, St. Louis, the Outer Banks (North Carolina), Washington (DC), in Portland and on top of Mt. Hood in Oregon, among many other gorgeous places.
We love to travel and we’d love to chat more about your destination wedding or elopement. Normally we charge modest fees for airfare, lodging, ground transportation and a per-diem for food. All of our destination wedding pricing is custom made based on the details of your wedding plans.
Drew’s clients, and now friends, Steve and Amy wrote this after their 5 day destination wedding week at Rancho Santana in Nicaragua:
“We found Drew and his team via a referral from my brother. After looking through his portfolio and chatting with Drew by video, we knew we had found the absolute perfect photo storyteller for our destination wedding at Rancho Santana in Nicaragua. Simply put: we are so happy to have chosen Drew and with the final photos!!! Over the course of 5 days Drew and his assistant seamlessly blended in with our guests, capturing moment after moment in a natural and artistic and meaningful way. The photos are INCREDIBLE and they bring back memory after memory of our wedding week.
We were also thoroughly impressed with Drew during the pre-planning phase. Our wedding involved international travel to a remote coastal venue in Central America and 5 full days of photography for all of our adventures and gathering during a week long celebration with family and friends. Drew’s suggestions for photography were spot on and he was willing and able to work with many of our non-traditional requests. We needed someone who was both a great photographer AND fun to be around. Drew and his assistant were the answer – they were up for anything and seemed tireless despite long days documenting all sorts of adventures. Stop your search now, if you’re looking for someone to capture the energy and essence of your wedding, Drew Bird is the best!!!”
Yes. Couples portraits are an important part of your wedding story. You can see some examples in our creative portraits gallery here.
We love to create photo stories that combine the ideal blend of candid real moments AND artistic portraits AND creative images of architecture, details, and decor. For most of the day, Drew and our team will be observers and documentarians – photographing unscripted events, people, and interactions with a hands-off natural and organic journalistic style.
In addition we will also create unique and passionate couples portraits with the two of you and family and group portraits, too. During our pre-planning sessions we help to determine the best locations and times of day for these.
We feel very strongly that the most challenging to create photographs and the highest valued skillset in the wedding photography world is creating journalistic style images of real unscripted moments – that are artistic and gorgeous and breathtaking.
This is a skillset that requires years and years of dedication and practice to truly master. It also requires passion and non-stop hustle from the photographer. And these are the real moments that will give you goose bumps and twenty years from now will remind you what your wedding day felt like. Learn more about our signature storytelling style in this recent blog post.
By comparison, creating wedding photos of still objects (details and decor) and portraits of people standing still posing for the photo – these are both relatively simple. Important, yes – but it’s easy for a wedding photographer to create a great image when the people are not moving, when the couple are listening to our instructions, and when they can try a shot three or four times.
We hear this from many of our new clients. It’s normal and understandable. You becoming comfortable with being photographed is all about you becoming comfortable with your photographer. As we develop a rapport and a level of trust, you’ll begin to realize that what we are doing is fun and there’s no reason to feel nervous.
A big part of you feeling comfortable is Drew’s personality. He is easy going, relaxed, and connects well with people. But it’s probably better if you read this review from our clients Sarah and Greg. Their wedding was at the San Francisco Film Centre in the Presidio:
“I don’t know where to start– with Drew as a person or with his photos?! His timeless images and documentary style visual storytelling was exquisite. I was hooked.
Then! We got to meet with him in person, and let me tell you, he will put you immediately at ease. This gentleman is one of the kindest and warmest individuals and a true professional. My husband and I were in total agreement that this is the person we wanted at our wedding, interacting with our guests and getting all the great shots.
Which is exactly what he did- my guests all raved about his presence and warmth. And even my pre-wedding jitters were no match for Drew’s calm, friendly, easy demeanor. We even managed to get in a spontaneous boudoir shoot, which came out beautifully.
I can’t recommend Drew enough – do yourself a favor and book Drew and cross worrying about your photos off the list.”
Fill out the contact form here and tell us more about your story and your wedding plans. Once we know a little more about your story, we’ll put together a custom photography collection proposal for you and send this your way via email.
If and when you’re ready to move forward and reserve the date, we do require a signed contract and deposit payment. Both can be done securely online through our very easy to use online booking system.
Yes, we do. These photos are also a very important part of your story. The amount of time we dedicate to doing these types of group photos is ultimately up to you. This is also something we will discuss in the pre-planning phase. Drew and our creative team will definitely help with planning and location selection.
Here’s a link to a private gallery with some example images of wedding party and family group photos. When prompted, use your own email address to login.
Yes, we do. The landscapes, cityscapes, and architecture of where we are in the world are a very important part of your photo story.
In addition any of the details that you’ve invested time, energy, or money in are also part of the story. This includes your dress, shoes, rings, table settings, flowers, etc. We will absolutely create artistic photographs of all of these details.
Here’s a link to a private gallery with some example images of decor, details, architecture, and setting. When prompted, use your own email address to login.
It is true that most of the images we create for you will be exquisite natural, candid, and journalistic style real moments. For years to come, these images will remind you of what your wedding day felt like. It’s also true that we will create artistic and creative portraits of the two of you and of your family and friends.
What our online portfolio won’t show much of is our incredible eye for creating gorgeous images of details and decor including architecture elements and landscapes. These things are important parts of the story, for sure.
The reason they don’t live in our public online gallery is simple: creating images of still objects is a very basic skill. It doesn’t take much special talent on the part of a photographer to make images of beautiful things that do not move. We feel strongly that the most challenging to create photographs and the highest valued skillset in the wedding photography world is creating journalistic style images of real unscripted moments — this is a skill that requires years and years of practice to truly master. And this is why most of our online portfolios focus on real, journalistic moments.
Drew Bird is the founder and lead photographer for Drew Bird Photography. Over the years we have grown into a robust multiple photographer Studio. Currently, in addition to Drew, we have 5 Ambassador Photographers who represent the Drew Bird Photo brand impeccably.
All of our Ambassador photographers have been hand selected by Drew and have the experience, skill set, and style to create incredible photo stories rooted in our signature photojournalistic style.
Drew limits the number of weddings that he personally accepts to approximately 15 weddings per year. He does this primarily because he maintains a robust clientele for non-wedding photography projects. If Drew is not available for your date, one of our Ambassador Photographers probably is.
This totally depends on the details and size of your wedding. For most weddings Drew, or our Ambassador lead photographer, will have a non-shooting assistant along to help with extra gear, lighting, and off-camera flash during the reception. For weddings that have more than roughly 100 guests, we normally recommend including a second photographer, which can add depth, texture, and incredible value to any photo story. A second photographer can be included in any wedding collection.
It’s very possible that we have photographed at your venue previously. We’ve photographed weddings throughout the USA and all over the world. In California, we’ve photographed weddings in Los Angeles, Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, San Jose, Palo Alto, San Mateo, Menlo Park, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Livermore, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Nevada City, Fallen Leaf Lake, Marin County, Yolo County, Napa, Sonoma, Lake Tahoe, and Mt. Shasta. That being the case, we are blessed with so many amazing wedding venues in the San Francisco Bay area that it’s also very possible we have not yet photographed a wedding at your venue.
Our advice to you is simple: do not choose your wedding photographer based on whether they have photographed at your venue before or not. Familiarity with your venue should be one data point that is considered as a lower priority on your checklist.
In our professional opinion, more important criteria should include: 1) the photographer’s style and experience overall; 2) ask any photographer to show you “full weddings” so you can get a sense for their actual quality and proficiency – especially in low light settings; 3) consider reviews & referrals from their past clients; 4) have a video chat or meet with the wedding photographer and read what past clients have written about the person’s demeanor and business dependability – the wrong personality type or a person who is not good at the business side of wedding photography can lead to both heartache and disappointment.
Yes, definitely. Many of our wedding clients decide to include photo storytelling for their rehearsal dinner or welcome party as part of their photo collection.
We highly recommend considering this as an option for your wedding. Most all of our destination wedding photography collections include coverage for the welcome party and/or rehearsal dinner. Check out this amazing beach welcome party from a 5 day destination wedding at Rancho Santana in Nicaragua.
As visual storytellers, we find that photos from the welcome party are a very powerful way to begin the story. In addition, it’s very helpful for your friends and family to have the opportunity to become familiar with having wedding photographers documenting the celebration. Often, it can take a little time for folks to become comfortable with the notion of someone making photographs of them where they don’t have to ‘stop and look at the camera’.
The rehearsal dinner or welcome party is a perfect way to achieve this level of comfort and trust. As wedding photographers, we believe that trust is very important to our image creation process. Once people are comfortable with our presence as photographers, they tend to simply be themselves allowing our creative team to capture moments that are real, genuine, intimate, and authentic.
Yes and yes and yes.
Engagement sessions are a great way to both capture and document a unique moment in your lives and also a great way for us to get to know each other better. On your wedding day, Drew (or your Ambassador Photographer) will be with you and your closest family and friends for an entire day or multiple days. The engagement session is a great way to help us build our own friendship and relationship and to help you become even more comfortable in front of the camera and having a photographer around.
Drew and our team of photographers are all very adventurous people and we love coming up with new concepts and ideas for engagement sessions.The world is literally our canvas. Anything that we imagine, we can probably do – photographically speaking. We are available to travel, everywhere on Earth.
We always urge our clients to start thinking ‘outside the box’. And we always work together in a collaborative way to plan the right engagement session for you – including location scouting and selection and pre-planning.
We have photographed some amazing adventure engagement sessions over the years including trekking and camping in Yosemite National Park, adventuring all over the island of Aruba in the Caribbean, snowshoeing in Lake Tahoe, visiting record shops in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, hiking and picnicking in Marin County, wine tasting adventures in Napa and Sonoma, and more.
Not every engagement session needs to be an off-the-beaten-path adventure. There are a multitude of gorgeous photo locations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. And we have compiled a really long list of locations ranging from redwood forests, to ocean beaches, to iconic landmarks, to incredible architecture, to more edgy urban cityscapes. We have suggestions for any type of setting.
You can view some example engagement and adventure lifestyle sessions here.
Yes. We photograph micro weddings, elopements, intimate weddings, and San Francisco City Hall Weddings. We also photograph much larger weddings. The biggest wedding we’ve ever photographed was a 4 day Indian (Hindu) destination wedding on the Island of Aruba in the Caribbean. There were 350 guests!!
The smallest micro wedding we’ve photographed involved the couple plus the officiant and Drew as the photographer (Drew also served as the only witness).
Many of our micro wedding and elopement clients choose to have photos of the ceremony and then we plan a few other adventures that become part of the photo story. This can include wine tasting at vineyards, walks on the beach, intimate dinners at your favorite restaurant, or even listening to records at a vinyl shop in San Francisco. Literally, the world is our canvas and we can customize the day in any way we imagine.
We also offer special photography packages for micro weddings and intimate weddings.
Yes. We can definitely plan a boudoir session. A couple of times we’ve even had clients ask to do this impromptu on the day of their wedding. There are a few settings and aesthetic options that can really improve the quality of images for this type of session. While we can accommodate a last second request, it’s generally best to plan this session in advance.
Yes and yes. We LOVE wedding albums. They are the one product we hope every client chooses to include in their photo storytelling collection. See why here.
We create incredible heirloom coffee table style photo books for our clients. The books are an absolute work of art and are hand crafted by artisans right here in the USA. Heirloom books can be included in any photo collection.
We do the digital design and layout. You get to make revisions and swap photos in and out of the design. Then you get to choose from a variety of lovely cover materials and colors.
We also offer really great parent gift books. Many of our clients include these as a way to say thanks to their parents.
Whether or not you include book(s) is a very personal decision. Though, most of our clients tell us that while they love having the digital JPGs, it’s the book photo story that they look at the most and share with family and friends.
Drew uses two Canon R5 mirrorless camera bodies and an assortment of great L-series pro lenses including: 24mm, 35mm. 50mm, 85mm, 135mm, 16-35mm, 70-200mm. Some of our photographers also use Sony mirrorless camera equipment.
We also offer film photography as a boutique add on for any wedding collection.
We also have a wide assortment of lighting diffusers and off-camera flash equipment. Our creative team has photographed in every lighting environment imaginable over our 10+ year career.
Yes. Off-camera flash is crucial for creating stunning images during the reception when it’s otherwise quite dark.
Our advice to any couple looking to hire a wedding photographer: avoid photographers who call themselves “natural light photographers” – this usually means that they simply do not understand how to use flash and manipulate light.
As wedding photographers documenting real and unscripted moments, the tendency is to make a lot of photographs. After the wedding day is over we’ll start the post-production phase, which includes culling the story to reduce the final number of images to a more manageable number, removing our test shots, and selecting the best image(s) from a series.
We don’t deliver to you every single image that we create. There’s a good reason for this. As artists, we are constantly experimenting and tinkering with our technique and approach. We might try a technique 3 or 4 times and then the fourth image is the one that achieves the desired result. During the culling process, we’ll remove the test shots.
In addition, during a peak moment of expression involving a group of people being photographed, we might create 8 or 10 images of that scene over a 5 second period. Only one or two of those images represent the “peak moment.” In some of the other images from that sequence, people might have their eyes closed or be making awkward facial expressions. And so during the culling process we’ll remove the images that shouldn’t be part of the final story.
For a full day (8hr wedding) we normally deliver 500 final JPGs. These final JPGs are all post processed and optimized for color correction, toning, clarity, contrast, light exposure, sharpness, etc. So, the final wedding photos you receive will look AMAZING and their absolute best.
For every hour we spend photographing at your wedding, we will invest 2 hours in post production in order to “finish” a photo story. So, an 8 hour wedding will require 16 to 20 hours of computer time before the story is finished. This is a huge part of the creative process.
First, read the answer to the previous question above.
The short answer is for a full day (8hr) wedding we’ll normally deliver to you ~ 500 finished edited and optimized JPGs with “home use” and printing rights. These images are completely watermark-free.
We aim to have an early sneak peak (best of selection) for you within 1 week after your wedding. This way you will have images to share on social media and with your family and friends.
Your full story online viewing gallery is normally ready within 4 to 6 weeks after your wedding. Our fine tuned systems for post processing mean that you’ll receive your full story online gallery in less than half the industry average amount of time.
All great photo stories are born out of empathy. We want to get to know your story. All of our collections are custom built for you based on the uniqueness and context of your story.
We have many different pricing options for many different types of weddings. For elopements, micro weddings, San Francisco City Hall Weddings, and intimate weddings (small gatherings with 20 or fewer people), our collections start at $1,500.
Our regular full day wedding collections start at $3,500. Our most popular collections tend to be in the $5,000 range.
Our destination wedding packages are fully custom built for you and almost always include multiple days of photography.
Every photo collection can be fully customized with the option to include more time and other add-ons like albums, parent gift books, welcome parties, adventure sessions, and engagement sessions.
Contact us here and share a few details about your wedding plans. From there, we’ll set up a complimentary consultation via video chat and then will build you some custom collection options for your wedding photography.
Drew takes many things into consideration when deciding which weddings to accept and photograph. Storytelling is always the most important factor. A compelling story has a pull to it, like gravity. Tell us a little bit about your story.
We certainly appreciate that everyone is working with some kind of budget constraints for their wedding. In running a business, we are too.
We tend to serve a discerning clientele who value photo storytelling as one of the most important investments they will make for their wedding day. Our clients understand that the wedding photos we create together will be cherished by you and your families for a lifetime and will even become heirlooms for future generations.
At present, we normally receive 250 to 300 inquiries for wedding photography per year. Drew Bird personally accepts roughly 15 weddings per year. And our ambassador photographers accept an additional 15 per year. That being the case, normally we do not offer discounts. We do sometimes offer specials on extras and add-ons for photo collections, such as books and engagement sessions. Oh, and for destination weddings that are near really good warm water surfing ; )
A shot list, though well intentioned, will actually make it more difficult for our team to create artistic images of all the unique and genuine moments. As documentary style photographers and wedding photojournalists, our focus and attention are always on you, your family, and guests.
For this reason we do not use “shot lists” when we are photographing a wedding. We will ask you to make a list of the family group photos you’d like to have, but that’s different. We will also work together and help to create a day-of photo timeline for your wedding.
If there are particular guests or other aspects of your wedding that you’d like us to photograph or pay special attention to, we should definitely chat about that during the pre planning.
During wedding pre-planning we will also talk about important details (rings, shoes, table settings, architecture, landscapes, etc) that we will also photograph.
Get in touch to chat about your wedding
Let’s create a photo story together. Contact us with a description of your wedding plans. We can set up a complimentary consultation and will build a custom proposal for you.