Point San Luis Lighthouse

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For many years Avila Beach near San Luis Obispo has been my favorite California beach.  But recently, Crystal and Homer contacted me to be their wedding photographer at the Point San Luis Lighthouse there.  I had never been on the property but immediately said yes because I just love the area so much.

Point San Luis Lighthouse is the only surviving Prairie Victorian model lighthouse that remains in existence on the West Coast of the United States. We are talking about a complex of buildings from the 1880's.  It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is being refurbished by the Point San Luis Lighthouse Keepers, a volunteer group.  The group of docents that were working the day of the wedding were great.  Everyone of them was friendly, helpful, and proud of the property.

One thing to note is that your guests do not drive directly to the lighthouse.  Instead, there is a trolley provided.  I wish that I had captured some photos of the long, single lane that must be traveled to get to the lighthouse because it ended up being a fun part of the experience.

The property is somewhat small.  What I mean is that any wedding party over 125 people will be hard-pressed to fit.  I'm not even sure if they could take a group that size. The Saturday in July that I was there had perfect weather (in the 70-80 degree range) which helped result in some great wedding photos that featured ocean views.  Additionally, the docents opened up all the buildings for us so that we could take some wedding shots inside the lighthouse in the old Victorian building and in the small museum like setting.  I believe they do that for everyone just so the wedding guests can roam around and enjoy the site, too.  The reception dinner was also held in one of the building which supported a view of the ocean from each guests' table.  So, my thought is that this is a good venue for a smaller, family-focused wedding.

The couple hired a musician named Justin Martinez.  I would highly recommend him if his style and approach appeals to you.  His guitar playing provided such a perfect backdrop for this setting.  There were no cheesy songs, nor were there any forced attention away from the festivities.  Instead, everything just fit and the experience of being in this great setting was enhanced.  I'm sure that his skills would work in a number of other local venues, also. 

I've included a slideshow that shows a little of Crystal and Homer's wedding just in case you are thinking about this as a wedding venue.  If you want to see more photos from this wedding, you can find them in this Smugmug portfolio.  If you want an excellent acoustic guitarist, email Justin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  And if you want to contact the Point San Luis Lighthouse to inquire if it is the right place for you, call them at (805) 540-5771.

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Pure Bitcoin Beats Fine China

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 Over at Cointelegraph.com, Darryn Pollock wrote an article that just might signal a new trend in wedding gifts.  I've excerpted a few comments, but if you are interest, go there to read the entire article.

More and more tech savvy couples are recognizing the value of Bitcoin as an investment option for their new lives together, putting the digital currency at the top of their wish list on wedding registers.

There are cases, especially in the US, where couples have either received Bitcoin or asked for it, as a gift. ... A young couple who are usually starting their lives together have forgone fairly useless things like kitchenware and crockery for a digital currency that has the potential to double in value in a short time.

Business Insider editor Emily Cohn tweeted that the Bitcoin her and her new husband received back in 2016 proved to be the “the best gift we got.” In September last year, at the time of their wedding, one Bitcoin was worth $230. By the end of the year, they had already doubled that and a year later the currency was worth $2,383.

Neeraj Agrawal, a spokesman for the Bitcoin advocacy group Coin Center, explains: “Because it is so volatile and has a learning curve, use your best judgment on whether or not the happy couple would genuinely appreciate a cryptocurrency gift,” he said.

 

Millennials drive Bitcoin gifting

Honeyfund's chief executive officer and co-founder Sara Margulis believes that it is only a matter of time before Bitcoin starts to play a big role in gifts for wedding, as well as honeymoons, but only for those who know and understand the digital currencies.

“I would expect it to pop more as Millennials come into the wedding age,” Honeyfund’s Margulis said. “It’s something you will do if your friends and family are already into Bitcoin — not something most couples would do.”

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What are the costs of a Wedding at San Francisco City Hall

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By far, the wedding venue that I get called back again and again to photograph is San Francisco's City Hall.  And there is a very straightforward reason for that: the costs are low and the photography possibilities are huge.  And this popularity extends beyond the locals because about 35% of my City Hall clients have been from the east cost or from foreign countries (the UK, China, Israel, etc.).

The marriage license itself is $99, and the civil ceremony is $75.  For this price you will likely be married in the Rotunda which is located at the top of the grand staircase on the second floor.  I say "likely" because at least one officiant insists on doing his weddings on the stairs themselves, and sometimes the building is so busy with events the Rotunda is unavailable and another location is used.  So, technically that's it, $174 and you are married!  I believe this phone number (415) 554-6068 will reach them.

Both parties must be present and have legal photo identification. Once you’ve made your appointment for your marriage license, you’ll pick it up from the County Clerk’s office (room 168) on the first floor.

However, there are options to rent spaces for a more private wedding on either the fourth floor or the Mayor's Balcony, starting at $1,002; visit or call the Events Office at City Hall for more info (room 495).

Naturally I believe that you will want to add a photographer to this special day.  There are a number of talented and knowledgable photographers but it is important to select someone with experience because not all shots are obvious.  A good photographer will have upped his/her game over time at the same venue and a great photographer will continue to seek new ideas even after 200 weddings.  Depending upon who you hire, expect to spend between $500 and $1200 for a 2-hour session.  I keep my costs toward the lower end of that range.

If you would like to know more about my services, click here: martinomingione.com/sfcityhall.html 

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Video Explanation of Wedding Photography Package

While photography is my mainstay and the majority of my work, I do have a life in videography and motion graphics.  Here is an example of that work when I applied it to myself!

Newborn Photography

There is nothing sweeter or more ephemeral than a newborn baby.  In my own life, witnessing the birth of my children ranks right up in the top echelon of my memories along with my wedding.  I feel it is important to capture a few professional photos that are "wall worthy" in addition to the hundreds of everyday images you will capture with your smartphone.

When it comes to a professional photo shoot with newborns, there are really two main ideas -- lifestyle and posed.  Posed newborn photography often involves complicated positions, backdrops, and a variety of props.  When I do posed newborn shots, I draw inspiration from famous photographers like Anne Geddes and try to keep the props to a minimum and concentrate more on the positioning of the newborn and the beige, neutral colors that help bring out the newborn's skin tones.  A note for expectant moms: the best time to take these types of photos is before 10 days old if you really want to get that Anne Geddes look!

Lifestyle photography, however, turns the traditional newborn session on its head by ditching the props and photographing a newborn in its natural habitat.  A really good photo of mom soothing the child after a tantrum or dad holding a naked infant after a diaper changing says so much more about the close bond between child and parent.  Because life is always happening, good photography can happen at all ages.

While the two styles are seemingly contradictory, I actually find that a good newborn session can comprise photographic elements from both.  That is, we can start off trying to get those artistic and wonderful poses while the newborn is sleeping and then finagle some nice lifestyle shots.  My own take on lifestyle photography is that it is OK to have a mix of authentic and staged. In other words, what I am shooting could actually happen in real life (this is the core definition of “lifestyle” in my opinion).  Therefore, it is fine to create a diversity of opportunities that will generate real-life type of images which might not have spontaneously happened at that specific moment if I hadn’t been there to jump-start them.

Troy Aikman at Super Bowl 50

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It dawned on me a little late that with Super Bowl 50 being held nearby at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, there should be photo opportunities -- ideally ones that pay!  And as fortune would have it, VividSeats hired me for their Troy Aikman Tailgate party.  I think chalk-talk might have been more accurate description since we were not in a parking lot, nor was there any vehicle or BBQ in sight.  But none-the-less, it was a lot of fun to be at.

If anyone reading this is contemplating attending a future VividSeat event, I can testify that they did a great job with this event.  The food was great, the bar was complimentary, Troy Aikman was funny and interesting, and the people were ready to party.  They even had a 90'x60' clear tent set up for the party and Super Bowl ticket distribution ready to go.

If you are interested in seeing more of Mr. Aikman and his fans, click here.

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Cloudy Skies over the Bay Bridge

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The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge is a complex of bridges spanning the San Francisco Bay.  It opened in 1936 six months before the Golden Gate bridge did.  And ever since it always lost out in appeal to its more iconic companion -- the Golden Gate bridge.  But the Bay Bridge is the city's workhorse.  It supposedly carries 240,000 cars each day.

I must profess that the Bay Bridge has always held a certain fascination for me.  The fist time that I sat in my car somewhere near the anchorage in San Francisco and gazed at the marvel of engineering, I was hooked.  Also, for some reason I love driving through the brief tunnel on Treasure Island , the half-way point of the bridge.

The photograph attached to this article was taken on a stormy January morning.  I was near Firefox' headquarters (or Gap's headquarters) while the morning commute was just beginning to kick in.  Once again I found myself staring at the Bay Bridge.  So I captured what I saw with this image.

But I soon discovered that I was not the only person who has a warm spot for the Bay Bridge.  A recently married couple saw this photograph at my desk while I was working on it.  (I had also photographed their wedding up in the Healdsburg area).  They immediately commented about this photo saying that when they were engaged, one or the other always had to travel across the bridge daily so that they could be together.  She later ordered a float mount framed canvas version for his office.  It turned out beautifully.  I've also gone one to create a few prints on Polar Pearl paper which brings out a great metallic sheen to the bridge's structure.

If you are interested in receiving a high-quality copy of this image, contact me.  Naturally, the watermark will not be in your ordered image.

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Weddings

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I really like being a wedding photographer. And you might be thinking, "yeah, what else are you going to say." But I really do!  I have fun interacting with people on this pivotal day in their lives and weddings do not stress me out.  My goal always is to find that image that takes people's breath away; the one that you will want to show others for the rest of your life.

Hopefully you like the photos being displayed above.  But it is really difficult to pick a handful of shots out of the hundreds of thousands of images on my computer and convince you that I am the right photographer for you.  So, I would like to know a little bit of information about the wedding you are planning.  And to give you an incentive to share that very brief amount of information, I will give you a FREE tip sheet that some brides have reported helped save time, money, and stress.  You are under NO obligation to select me as your photographer and I will never give your email to any marketer.  It's just any easy way for me to give you a little gift. 

As you look over my work, you will find a mix of candid and posed shots, a mix of traditional shots and modern freshness.  That said, I try to capture as many candid shots throughout the day that are also interesting to look at.  Then, only if it interests the couple, we will take a small amount of time to setup some more artistic and romantic expression.  While each image stylistically requires its own approach, my overall style tends toward a sharper subject focus, vivid colors, and emotion. When doing black & whites (which I love), the composition is often bolder.

Usually a day or two after your wedding you will receive a mobile app of about 15-20 photos.  These are immediately available to you for viewing, sharing, and posting online. I do this for two reasons.  First, you can enjoy some images from your special day immediately.  Second, you can have some of the professional images at the same time that your family and friends are posting shots from their iPhones.  Later all the images will be delivered to you via digital download.  If you ordered an album or physical art prints, those will come shortly after that.

Each of the packages aims to completely address the most common requests from clients with no price surprises.  But if you have a different set of needs, let's discuss it and I will put together a custom quote for you.  If your weddings is not on a Saturday or is off-season, I often offer discounts to the price.

San Francisco City Hall Wedding

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San Francisco City Hall is beautiful.  It is a European-style venue which yields many magnificent images -- some obvious, others not so.  Just because this is a city hall, that does not mean that your wedding photos have to be drab and boring.  My goal is to capture some of this majesty so that you will want to show your friends just how much in love you are.

I offer an economical Basic Package that will provide you with ceremony pictures, candid shots, family/friends photos, and some sexy/romantic art shots.  This package covers everything with no hidden costs because it gives you 2-hours of photography time, post-production editing to make every photo fabulous, a mobile app/album, and all the high-resolution digital images.  There are options you can add to the package, but all my clients are assured to receive this entry level of service.

This is how it works.  We will meet at city hall a little before your scheduled ceremony time.  We can talk and plan your session while I make sure you follow city hall's check-in procedures.  Typically we will start by taking candid shots as opportunities arise and capture the ceremony photos.  Then it is good to move on to group photos with family and friends.  During the last hour or more of the session, I will take you to various parts of the building and get the most romantic photos you are game for.  I'm even good working with people who might not be comfortable in front of the camera (like that has never happened!).  We will probably end the session outside the building (weather permitting) to get some last pictures with City Hall in the background.  If you tell me what appeals to you the most, that will be the goal I work toward.

Usually within a day or two you will receive the mobile app so that 15-20 photos are immediately available to you for viewing, sharing, and posting online.  Then weeks later all the images will be delivered to you via digital download.  If you ordered an album or physical art prints, those will come shortly after that.

    • Basic Service

    • $600

      • - 2 hours of photography time
      • - post production editing
      • - Mobile Album
      • - Digital download of images
    • Additional Time

    • $300

      • - An additional 2 hours of time
      • - post production editing
      • - San Francisco city shoot
      • - or a reception
    • Two Art Prints

    • $90

      • - select your favorite photos
      • - printed on Polar Pearl paper
      • - matte size is 20x16
      • - ready for immediate framing
    • Wedding Album

    • Beginning at $300

      • - various binding choices
      • - personally designed by me
      • - very high quality printing
      • - you can edit final draft

Print Services

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Photography really comes alive when an image is printed.  Have you ever wondered why a professional photographer's photo looks so good when they are on display in an art gallery?  Well I can assure you they did not send it out to the local drug store to get that result!

Martino Mingione Photography long ago broke from the tradition of trying to force you to buy prints.  Instead, you receive all the high-resolution digital images and are free to order from anyone you wish.  But there are advantages that I bring to you that other labs do not.

  • Much higher quality paper stock,
  • A richer color palette sent to the printer because there is no conversion to JPEG format,
  • Adjustments that translates a good screen image to one that looks fabulous on paper.  
  • Every print is reviewed and redone if necessary.

The result is that you get professional grade work at a reasonable price. So far I have a 100% customer satisfaction!

This is what I have in stock right now:

  • The 20x16 art print is my best and most desired product.  That is because it is a 14x11 polar pearl metallic image mounted in a 20x16 white matte.  The result is a product that is ready for a frame and hangs on the wall.  Normally the price is $60.
  • A 20x16 super gloss print sells for $16.00
  • A 14x11 metallic print sells for $12.00
  • A 14x11 super gloss print sells for $9.50
  • A 8x10 metallic print sells for $5.25
  • A 6x4 metallic print sells for $1.25
  • A 6x4 super gloss print sells for $0.95
  • A set of 5 gloss 5x7 high-end Hallmark-type cards with envelopes and plastic box sells for $19.00.  This is a superb way to send out very special cards that will rival anything you can find at Hallmark.  And you can have a special message printed inside if you like.
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