William + Shawn | Same-sex engagement photography in San Francisco

September 27, 2017

This shoot was featured on Equally Wed, the country’s leading LGBTQ+ wedding publication

featured on equally wed blog

For William and Shawn’s pre-wedding photography session, they wanted to spend some time enjoying spots that they really enjoy in their adopted home of the Bay Area. The Marin County couple love hitting San Francisco, particularly the Castro and trying out hot new eating spots, when they’re not working hard in their careers as educators in the sciences.

During our initial meeting, William & Shawn told me their love story from rubbing shoulders one night at a university fashion show which turned out to be a missed connection, to the plans for their upcoming wedding. They are recent transplants to the San Francisco Bay Area, having moved here earlier in 2017 from Memphis, TN.

For our shoot, they carefully selected two locations from a shortlist that we’d discussed, which they felt very sure about in terms of the look and feel of the locations. One is a classic couples portraits location – the Palace of Fine Arts, and the other spot was a more casual, nature-steeped city viewpoint, namely Corona Heights.

The dapper pair really had a ball on this shoot and their enthusiasm was infectious! At the Palace of Fine Arts where we kicked off, we had fun playing with dancing, sitting on various stone stoops showing off the ornate architecture, even climbing trees, playing patty cake and smooching on a picnic blanket.

Meanwhile I had fun with my camera shooting through tall grasses and also getting crazy rainbow lens flare which seemed very apt.

There is something very San Francisco about the story of Palace of Fine Arts. The architect Bernard Maybeck took his inspiration from Roman and Ancient Greek architecture and designed what was essentially a fictional ruin from another time.

It was built in 1915 as a temporary structure for an exposition but it was so beloved that while the fair was still in progress, a foundation sprung up to save it and it was rebuilt as a permanent structure in 1965.

I love the Palace of Fine Arts for its wildlife as well as its impressive architecture which is apparent for all to see. Creatures that’ve made their home on the historic tourist attraction include swans, ducks, geese, turtles, frogs, and raccoons.

The next stop had a very different vibe from all that grandiose old-world charm. Corona Heights is a spot where you feel you’re miles above everything, looking out over the whole city and there is big wind. And there are big rocks too, chert (sedimentary) bedrock in terra cotta red. Climbing the steps felt like my work-out for the day and it’s one of those walks where the view gets more expansive with every step.

Crazily the park is home to native reptiles, including northern and southern alligator lizards and garter snakes. We didn’t see any of those on our engagement photography session, but did run into a cute pooch, which reminded the boys of their own pup at home.

Corona Heights is a photographer’s dream, boasting an epic, 360-degree view of the city, a pretty sunset minus a ton of people to Photoshop out later!

William’s feedback on seeing the photos was, ‘From the bottom of our hearts THANK YOU! These photographs are beyond beautiful. We enjoyed every moment of the shoot, in large part due to you.’

William and Shawn, it was a huge pleasure getting to know you and being able to present these photographs to you at such a memorable, beautiful time in your lives just a couple of weeks before your wedding. Wishing you ALL the best for a long & awesome marriage! To the adventures that lie ahead!


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This piece was featured on Equally Wed! To view the feature, click here or on the screenshot below.


Zoe, thank you SO MUCH for this experience! Your skill as a photographer and easygoingness as a person helped make for an authentically beautiful outcome. Often times, it’s hard to mentally separate from work enough to get those much appreciated butterflies of being within reach of our nuptials, and this helps in making it all real. The excitement this post begets and our love for the time with you is immeasurable! You are a gem. Please, continue capturing love on film.

Grateful to the extreme,