Sometimes the Clients You Don’t Book Share with You the Highest Regards… San Francisco Bay Area Family Photography Surprises and Delights

How to flatter your would-be photographer… It’s been a while since I blogged a personal story, and this was one of those “have to write about this” opportunities.

A family from Texas found me through a Google search one month ago and reached out for a family photosession. They are a “family of 13 coming to visit the Bay Area…” many of whom are successful entrepreneurs, movers, shakers, hard to get in one room at the same time! I received the inquiry while vacationing on the magical island of Maui, but never leaving an interested client hanging, I gave them a quick ring and we had a lovely conversation about the goals for their session. I learned about what a wonderful group of individuals they all are, splitting time between the United States and many incredible overseas places, only all seeing each other maybe once a year. “This is going to be a special photoshoot” I think, the stakes are high to rock this one. We were both easily put at ease early on as our personalities just gelled, this was going to be one fun shoot!

There was only one problem that brought our booking to a screeching halt – the dates they needed were the dates that I would be in NY for a friend’s wedding… Literally the exact same opposite travel plans, almost to the hour 🙁 As disappointed as we both were, I was determined to make this happen for them, so we had two options: 1) It just so happens that I’m going to be in Texas for a long weekend this month, only 1 hour from where many of the family live; 2) There are a few other amazing family photographers in San Francisco to say the least, so let’s see who else they are interested in, and give them a good referral/recommendation and introduction to someone amazing to work with them in my place.

I reviewed the other photographers they were considering and gave them my honest feedback and opinion. I thought one they liked would really fit with their goals, and offered one other they hadn’t considered who I am a fan of their work.

Long story short, turns out the whole family won’t all be in Texas during the dates I’ll be there, bummer… one down, one to go, let’s get them a great shoot in SF. A week goes by and I send a follow up email just to make sure they’re taken care of and found someone they love to capture their trip, and this is from the response I receive, it made my day:

“We should be making another trip to Bay Area end of this year, we will try and attempt another family photo session this fall 🙂 I will keep you in mind and my contacts. Thank you again for all your help, we decided not to go with any of the other photographers, family only liked your work. We will try again this fall!!”

I’m honored to hear that of all the fine choices for photographers in San Francisco, they only wanted to work with me, truly flattered 😉 That one part of their reply “… we decided not to go with any of the other photographers, family only liked your work” really made my day. This is me smiling and having one of those “why I do this” moments.

Little happy gifts from the people you interact with come and surprise you each and every day. Stay open to the greatness.

The Bay Lights behind Cupid's Span at Rincon Park by the Bay Bridge in San Francisco | © 2013 Niall David Photography

The Bay Lights behind Cupid’s Span at Rincon Park by the Bay Bridge in San Francisco | © 2013 Niall David Photography

A Foggy San Francisco Sunset | View of the Golden Gate Bridge, the SF Bay and the City

This is our office, our place of business, our boardroom, our City.

Not bad for just looking out the window at sunset. I love this place.

A Foggy San Francisco Sunset | View of the Golden Gate Bridge and the City


 (Niall David)


Instagram :: March 2012

The Instagram project continues, a daily experiment. The monthly update to recap March 2012.

Beer, beaches, broken tapes, vintage things, puffy clouds, pianos, St. Patty’s Day, music and creativeLIVE all caught my attention this past month…

 (Niall David)

 (Niall David)

 (Niall David)

 (Niall David)

 (Niall David)

 (Niall David)

See the full gallery from March here.


March has 11 images.

You can find me on Instagram as nialldavid.

A few great ways to keep up on Instagram images is joining Instagram, posting your images and following your favorite photographers! There’s also my favorite: Statigram, as well as WebstagramFollowgram, and the Instadesk application for Mac OS X.


Northern California Coast | Humbolt Redwoods State Park | Avenue of the Giants

A little trip up the coast left us with some wonderful experiences in Humbolt Redwoods State Park

 ((C) NIALL DAVID (.COM)              N DP)


 ((C) NIALL DAVID (.COM)              N DP)

 ((C) NIALL DAVID (.COM)              N DP)

Big trees everywhere. It’s amazing.

See the full gallery here.


A Foggy Evening at Fort Point and the Golden Gate Bridge | HDR Images


On a lonely foggy eve, I stumbled into Fort Point National Historic Site and the archway truss of the Golden Gate Bridge. From Fort Point you get an original view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay. It’s pretty unreal down there, and very easy to get to. I wish the building at the point was open, and it’d be cool to wander closer to the bridge, but it’s gated off pretty well (the first shot here is actually taken with the camera lens poking through the hole in the fence). I’ve seen some photogs get deeper access and I only wonder what their secrets are…

 (Niall David)


I definitely plan to go back and venture through the area beneath the bridge and the roadways there a bit more. It’s a cool industrial urban lattice of somewhat creepy proportion begging to be explored!

Sunset over the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge

This was one of those sunsets you can’t believe you got to witness and all you have to do is look out the window.

JPEG file straight from the camera. I love when I don’t have to process an image 🙂

Instagram :: August 2011

Stories of peat monsters, construction, travel and music, August was a slow month for me on Instagram. My photography business has been picking up and I’m working with a real camera way more than I’m using the one in my iPhone for leisurely snapping. Kinda bummed about the lack of an IG gallery this month, but happy that the reason those little square crop images are missing from my life recently is an exciting one. It’s been years in the making, and something that I’m very proud of.

 (Niall David)

 (Niall David)


 (Niall David)

 (Niall David)

August has 12 images.

You can find me on Instagram as nialldavid.

A great way to keep up on Instagram images is Webstagram.

See the full gallery from August here.

The Great Highway Panoramas | Ocean Beach, San Francisco

I was on a recent real estate shoot in the Outer Sunset of SF and part of the assignment was to capture some of the surrounding area, landscape, city scenes, Golden Gate Park, etc. for the listing. Just in time to finish the exterior shots of the home, in typical not in the forecast but it happens out of nowhere San Francisco weather, it starts to rain. And not just a foggy drizzle, a full on big drop shower. Still determined to capture something to pull this one off, I hid under trees while I made a few neighborhood snaps and headed down to Ocean Beach to make some panos of the beach and the city from the top of the dunes. I came away with two pretty cool panoramic shots and confirmation of the desire to continue to incorporate this type of photography into every shoot going forward. Where there’s a expansive view, there’s a panorama to be made!

Click images for larger views.

Full gallery here.

Time Lapse Photography of Foggy San Francisco Bay from the Top of Nob Hill

Click the play button above to watch embedded video, or for an high res experience, follow this link to watch the 16:9 HD version on Vimeo.

1400 images over 5 hours, 10 seconds apart, compressed to a minute and a half 🙂

I decided to play a role in this one, alongside a glass of our favorite Husch Sauvignon Blanc and a Rolling Stone magazine. It was WINDY & COLD up there, and a misty drizzly rain started falling when I decided to leave my post, as evidenced by the mist on the lens filter in the video about mid-way through. Instead of bail on the project, I cleaned the filter, tightly plastic bagged the camera and let ‘er roll! Was a fun way to capture the afternoon and early part of the night.

What I’ve learned about time lapse photography over the past few years:

  • Prepare everything in advance. When you’re going to do it, how you’re going to set it up, your composition, etc. Otherwise you end up moving the camera or making other changes on the fly. Follow up point: be willing to adapt. Nothing sucks worse than planning for a 5 hour exposure and then realizing that when you used the lens hood to attach a plastic bag to protect your camera from drizzly rain falling upon it, you left it partially in the frame for 30 minutes of exposures…
  • Use a solid tripod. I never use a tripod in my professional work, so the one I have sucks, it’s one I got as a gift from someone in college like 10 years ago… and in the borderline hurricane force winds on our roof above the Bay, a weak tripod will wiggle and shake as you expose the camera over a long period of time. You can argue that artistically it adds to the experience… but if I had $400 in my photography budget for a nice tripod, I’d have lugged that puppy up there with a big fat sandbag and saved myself some shakin’.
  • There’s no way you’re going to sit there clicking the shutter for each exposure, so use an intervalometer. This gives you time to enjoy the view, run downstairs to fill up your glass of wine, have dinner with your girlfriend, watch an episode of Law & Order SVU, and still have 878 frames left in your sequence… I’m blessed with a sometimes annoying to set up, but conveniently built in intervalometer with my camera. Many new DSLRs have this option built in. On my camera (and possibly yours) the option is placed under the “shooting menu” accurately titled “interval timer shooting.” They all setup a little differently, so poke around your menus or your camera manual until you figure it out. For example, the Nikon D700 has you choose 1) the interval, then 2) # of shots, so you have to do some math depending on how long you want your time lapse to be… (for reference, when you create your image sequence, you’ll want anywhere from at least 15 frames per second to 30 frames per second, so plan accordingly).
  • When possible (and it wasn’t really in this video), use slower shutter speeds for your individual exposures. This will make the “video” you’re creating come together in a smoother fashion as each frame will drag easier into the next, much like, wait for it… a motion picture.
  • When shooting faster moving objects (windy days with clouds moving quickly overhead, sports, etc.) use a smaller interval. You can use a longer one with more static, slower changing elements, or when studying glacial movement over a number of years like these guys: Extreme Ice Survey.
  • Shoot in JPEG. Unless you feel like converting thousands of RAW images into a format your time lapse program can read (and if that’s your idea of a good time, good on ya mate), keep it simple. I chose a 10 second interval here, and ended up with 1400 image files to put together, but if I had used a 1 second interval for the same time period, I would have had 14,000… I’ll get there, just not right now.
  • Unless you’re making a career in it, you can use free software on the web, or give Apple another $30 of your hard earned money and purchase Quicktime 7 Pro. I used QT 7 Pro for both of the time lapse vids on my site. It’s easy to put all of the images in one folder, open the image sequence, and make the magic happen.

A couple of resources I have found useful:

The first time lapse I did from our roof lives here: I’ll have to do a sunset one soon. Tonight would have been a good night… Until next time!