10 Questions with Boris Polissky

SF City Hall Photo

Photographer - Boris Polissky

10 Questions with Boris Polissky
  • Business: SF City Hall Photo
  • Location: San Francisco, California CA
  • Experience: 6 Years
  • Photography Types: Portrait, Editorial, Engagements, Family, Weddings
  • Profile: SF City Hall Photo
  • Website: www.sfcityhallphoto.com

1. Introduction: What's your story?

I always felt a need to creatively express myself. I started playing music when I was 9, played in bunch of bands, produced and recorded music. While doing all that I always had my camera with me. At some point by chance I came along to help my friend photograph a wedding. I then realized I enjoyed the excitement of the day, the people, the ceremony, the energy and electricity of the day. And I was hooked, so I started shooting weddings in addition to everything else I was already photographing.

After several years I wanted to focus on one location in San Francisco that I always admired. As a result I took over this company - SF City Hall Photo several years ago and have been working hard to create a strong reputation, good impression and everlasting memories/images.

I do have a personal connection and attachment to San Francisco City Hall. I also had my ceremony at the City Hall with my wife Valerie. I was lucky to have one of my best friends (who happen to be one of the best photographer i know) take our photos. So I know how it feels to be on the other end of the camera on your wedding day.

Besides wedding photography I really enjoy shooting portraits and more editorial type of work which can be found at www.borispolissky.com

2. How long have you been shooting weddings? How many weddings have you photographed?

I've been shooting weddings since 2015. It started when I had nothing to do one evening and my best friend who is an amazing photographer - Joseph Kohn from Iqphoto - invited me to join him at a winery wedding session as an assistant. I remember feeling kind of out of place. As a good photographer you should anticipate what will happen next and what is about to happen. Being at the right place at the right time is the key. And in professional photography you can get lucky a few times, but you need to be consistent. And consistency comes from experience and truly feeling it. But regardless I enjoyed being there. The happy emotions, the excitement of the day and just being part of a major milestone in someone's life. I loved it!

I wouldn't be able to count it but it's somewhere 200+ SF City Hall Weddings and another 50+ or more weddings at other locations. But it's not about keeping score. Each wedding definitely adds to the experience. There are plenty of unexpected moments from really bad lighting to being late to your appointment at the City Hall. I try to be not just a photographer but help the couple as much as I can. And that could involve working some 'magic' with the Clerk's office to fit them in their busy schedule.

Also when photographing people I've had few occasions when the bride is all into photos and the groom just isn't. He feels it's just a drag and waste of time. It doesn't matter that it's memories and in a few years he will look at it differently. My job is to make sure I take good images when he doesn't look bored and not into it. So this is when I do my best to connect and just talk to him. While our session might not result in outstanding images, I'm sure I will get good images that the couple would look back and remember with fondness. At the end not every couple is crazy about a photoshoot. Everyone is quite unique and different. I value and respect that

3. How would you describe your photography style?

Fun, engaging experience for the couple that results in real, emotional photos that truly represent their big day. There are times when I step back and just observe focusing more on candid photography. There are other times when I direct and instruct to get the shot I'm thinking of. The ultimate goal is - no awkward poses. It needs to appear natural even when it's a posed shot. I want the images to look like something that they could see in a magazine. And why not?

4. How well in advance should couples book their wedding photographer?

The more in advance the better especially with wedding season picking up. Typically April-October and then month of December tend to be the busiest for the weddings. August and September are the craziest and most exciting months for photographers. Not sure if I mentioned this before but weddings are like adrenaline rush for me. It's like a drug without all the bad side effects. I get energized while shooting. After a full day I could collapse when i get home, but the next day I'm fully recharged and ready to go again.

Since I plan around my booked sessions and don't double-book or book sessions too closely I have a non cancellation/ no refund policy. I understand anything happens and life could be unpredictable sometimes. So I allow couple to reschedule with no extra fees. They can also chose to use the credit towards a different type of session.

5. What are the different packages that you offer and which one is your most popular package?

SF City Hall packages:

30 minutes - 30 minutes of photography intended to cover the ceremony and small number of formal/informal photos. At least 50 high res color corrected images

1 hour (most popular) - Covers the ceremony, group photos, more time for formal/informal photos of the couple. At least 100 high res color corrected images

2 hour (2nd most popular) -. Can be split between another location. More time with the couple which results in a larger variety of photos. At least 150 high res color corrected images

4 hour - For couples who would like to cover their reception or take additional photos around San Francisco after their ceremony. At least 250 high res color corrected images

6. Are you the wedding photographer who will be shooting on the wedding day? Who else is there in your team?

I'm the main photographer. My business partner, friend and mentor Josef takes over some weddings for SF City Hall Photo. He's one of the best photographers I know.

Since San Francisco City Hall is quite a large place and we like to make sure we cover large part of it we have a light gear setup. We use external flash as needed but also rely on natural light as much as possible. We use any tools we have available to capture a special day for the couple. San Francisco City Hall is a beautiful place to shoot but at the same time it can get a little hectic since it's a public place. So our goal is to take the best advantage of the time to get the best possible photographs especially that a large number of the sessions we have are just 1 hour. There's a lot we can do within that hour. Although to ne honest one can spend hours taking photos in the City Hall.

For other non City Hall weddings the approach is very similar. Make sure I cover the main events, ceremonies, focusing on the important people, engaging with the guests to get the best possible photos. I also like to spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour with the couple only focusing on the photos of the 2 of them. It could be a bit difficult to 'steal' the couple on their own wedding day, but I feel it's important and also allows time for them to be alone.

7. Do you charge a travel fee? For what distance? What does that cover?

Most of the weddings I shot are in around SF Bay Area. I don't mind driving to Napa, Sonoma or Monterey area to shoot a wedding and i don't have a travel fee. I've also shot weddings in other states and even other country. When it comes to that travel fees do apply but they all depend on the location and time required.

8. Are albums or prints included in your packages?

Albums and prints are not included in the packages, but they are add ons.

I work with a local SF Bay Area company to create and print albums. I'm a believer that there are images that must be printed. There is something special about holding an image in your hand as opposed to looking at it on your computer or your phone. For printed images I spend additional time to do advanced photoshop retouching and perfecting it more for the print.

Our albums start from $350. Our prints start at $10

9. How long after the wedding will the couple receive the images? How will they be delivered?

I understand the desire to see your wedding images as soon as possible. While my standard answer is 4 weeks, I do my best to get the images to the couple within 2 weeks. There are weeks when i'm booked nonstop and finding time to select and process photos could be challenging. So that's why I always tell my couples it's 4 weeks but i'll do my best to get it to them a lot sooner.

What I do sometimes is select 1 image that stands out for me and post it on Instagram the same day also tagging the couple. That way they at least have 1 image on the same day

10. What is your cancellation and/or refund policy?

Typically there are no refunds unless there are certain situations. The reason for that is because we set time aside for the session making sure we don't overbook or book back to back. As a result there's only a certain number of sessions we can do every day.

However I totally understand life happens and unexpected events occur. Covid definitely showed that to all of us. So if the session needs to be cancelled, it can be rescheduled for a different day or the credit can be used towards another session - family, portrait, etc..



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