Wedding Season 2014 Has Begun! Well, a while ago. But still.

Wow, I neglected this blog for a bit! Have you been waiting here long?

How is everyone’s 2014 so far?

This year has been a funky one as far as schedules. I’m more booked than I ever have been, but all my bookings are crammed into a 6-month period this time. Usually it’s bit more evenly distributed throughout the year.

So for me, wedding season is about 3 weeks into full swing… and it’s gonna be a fun one. George is with me once again this year, and if you see these two photographer clowns at your event, you made a smart hiring decision:

George Woods and Clay Lancaster. Photo courtesy of the groom.
George Woods and Clay Lancaster. Photo courtesy of the groom.

Much of early spring was spent on personal projects, taxes, and a trip to Las Vegas before all the weddings were scheduled to kick in. Now it’s all started, and George and I are super excited to see all the wonderful faces that have us scheduled for 2014!


I’ll leave you with some of my favorite shots so far:

San Francisco Zoo Wedding
San Francisco Zoo Wedding


San Francisco Zoo Wedding
San Francisco Zoo Wedding


Flower Girls. San Ramon Wedding.
Flower Girls. San Ramon Wedding.


Callippe Preserve Wedding. Pleasanton, CA.
Callippe Preserve Wedding. Pleasanton, CA.


Indoor ceremony at Murietta's Well. Livermore, CA.
Indoor ceremony at Murietta’s Well. Livermore, CA.


Happy New Year! A Great 2013.

Making friends.
Making friends.
Very thankful for the year we’ve had here at Lancaster Photography. We met a lot of fantastic people, were welcomed into a lot of family circles, spent time in many photo pits, and traveled around the US and the world… all because of the lens and being decent at using it.
Personal thanks to all my clients from this year for choosing my work (which even included Sony Music Entertainment and Ben Folds), huge thanks to my 2nd shooters and assistants, and to the staff at theFIVE10 Radio.


A very Happy New Year to all of you!

2013 Recap: Weddings, Concerts, Album Covers, Travel and Films


I was organizing and preparing for the end of the year, when I realized how awesome 2013 was for my photographic adventures. I make my living as a wedding photographer here in the San Francisco Bay Area, but there’s a lot more that I’ve done (and will continue to do) besides weddings.

Don’t get me wrong… I love my couples, and I love my job. But if you’re a chef and your job is to make pizzas at a restaurant, you don’t just stick to making pizzas at home!

To start, this year has been very travel-heavy. Normally I do a bunch of concerts throughout the year, but this time I swapped much of the concert shooting for traveling (and the projects that come with that). Tallying up, my journeys took me to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe (twice), Colorado, Florida, Istanbul, and Paris (twice)… plus all the local outings to wedding venues here in Northern California.

Some of the main highlights:

Paris, France: Worked on an independent film with my brother and a wonderful cast & crew. Crazy experience, and required two trips out there to get it filmed (once in April and once in October). See all my previous posts documenting the trip, if you want more details.

Me (looking thrilled), Barbara Probst, and Kevin Clark as seen through my brother's RED camera
Me (looking thrilled), Barbara Probst, and Kevin Clark as seen through my brother’s RED camera

Istanbul, Turkey: After our first round of filming in Paris, I headed to Istanbul by myself. I had never been to that part of the world before, and it was my first trip to another country alone… where I ended up shooting a hip-hop video for a Tunisian rapper/DJ in a dingy basement, with real blood donated by our video’s “director” (we couldn’t find fake blood)…


Las Vegas, Nevada: Brodie (of the Brodie Stewart Band) few me out to Las Vegas with him to meet up with Adam Shoenfeld, who plays on Brodie’s upcoming record. Adam was on tour playing for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. We shot some great interview footage, then had a couple of nights hangin’ out with those guys (and some of the stage crew for the Tim McGraw/Faith Hill show at the Venetian). All of it topped off with free tickets to the Tim & Faith show, and my own entire row of seats on the plane coming home for me to stretch out on.

Getting ready to shoot Adam Shoenfeld's interviews at the Venetian in Las Vegas.
Getting ready to shoot Adam Shoenfeld’s interviews at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

Ben Folds Five: The most rewarding moment of 2013 for me was getting my photo on the front cover of Ben Folds Five: Live, which is the first-ever live album for the band. I’ve been a huge fan of Ben Folds Five since high school, and once I heard their 12-year hiatus was over I pushed to get photo access for their show at the Warfield in San Francisco on their reunion tour. I was just thrilled to even go to the show, let alone shoot photos. But a couple of months later, I get a call from their people and BOOM!… there’s my photo on the record cover (released by Sony) and can be found in stores all over the world. Pretty cool to see “Clay Lancaster” on the CD insert, and on the back of the vinyls.

My photo on the cover of Ben Folds Five: Live at Rasputin Records.
My photo on the cover of Ben Folds Five: Live at Rasputin Records.

The rest of the year was filled with wonderful weddings, trips to visit family and friends, some great shoots and celebrity guests for, AND I bought a condo… so I am now a first-time homeowner.

On January 1st of this year I didn’t see any of those previous events on the horizon, so I can’t wait to see what 2014 will bring. It’s gonna be pretty hard to top what happened this year… but, of course, I said the same thing last year.

Happy Holidays!

Paris: Finally Finished (fingers crossed)

Eiffel Tower from the Trocadéro. Photo by Clay Lancaster
Eiffel Tower from the Trocadéro. Photo by Clay Lancaster

Hello hello.

We’ve had a fairly busy last 10 days, and after this evening I should comfortably be able to say that the Paris portion of the film is in the can (which is like 90% of it).

The ending was re-written and a B-story was added. Our first few days were spent re-shooting the ending with our lead actress, as she had another project to get to. I flew from San Francisco to New Jersey, then New Jersey to Paris… hopped on the RER train into Gentilly, met up with everyone here at the studio, had about 30 minutes to get settled, then we started rolling.


Straight off the airplane, filming a scene in Paris before the rain hit.
Straight off the airplane, filming a scene in Paris before the rain hit.
The remainder of the week we worked with our lead actor/writer (as well as a new actress) on the new side story. It was challenging.

A big problem with not having much of a budget is that we have to shoot where we can shoot. That means spending hours on crowded riverbanks – take after take – trying to avoid loud boats, loud people, rain, onlookers, lighting issues, potential security issues, etc.

One of our scenes took about 8 hours to wrap. The scene is only about 5 minutes long.

This scene is about 4 seconds long. Yet we needed 5 takes. I labeled the slate accordingly.
This scene is about 4 seconds long. Yet we needed 5 takes. I labeled the slate accordingly.

The majority of our people are now gone, leaving Keith and me here in this art studio on our own. We spent the last day and a half doing some much-needed sleeping in, some pub-drinking, some bicycle riding through the city, some wine drinking, some photography, and some Formula 1 race-watching. After our mini pizzas come out of the oven, we’re gonna jump on the Metro with the RED camera and go film some establishing b-roll. Then tonight we pack up, and jet back to San Francisco tomorrow morning.

Band photo. Actually it's our lead actor (left), cinematographer (my brother, center), and audio (me, right).
Band photo. Actually it’s our lead actor (left), cinematographer (my brother, center), and audio (me, right).

It’s been a blast. At the start of 2013, I surely didn’t see myself going to Paris this year… and definitely didn’t see myself going twice. Now it has become a running joke that we’ll all just be right back here in a another few months to film something else.

To my clients who have been patiently waiting on their wedding photos, thank you! I’ll have them to you soon.

Enjoy some of these photos, and I’ll see you guys back in the States in a couple of days.


Out and about in Paris at night, during Nuit Blanche. Photo by Clay Lancaster
Out and about in Paris at night, during Nuit Blanche. Photo by Clay Lancaster
Night Filming near Notre Dame. Paris, France.
Night Filming near Notre Dame. Paris, France.
Keith and Kevin discuss... something.
Keith and Kevin discuss… something.
This time Kevin brought a remote-controlled quad-copter for arial shots. We crashed it a lot.
This time Kevin brought a remote-controlled quad-copter for arial shots. We crashed it a lot.

…like this:

Sunrise shot from the Trocadero
Sunrise shot from the Trocadero
My skeletal roommate. He watched me while I sleep across the room. Good guy.
My skeletal roommate. He watched me while I sleep across the room. Good guy.
Awkward filming moment. Barbara, Kevin, and... me (technically) in the back.
Awkward filming moment. Barbara, Kevin, and… me (technically) in the back.


Still Alive! Just plowin’ through…

Hey folks.

It’s wedding season. It has been, and it will continue to be for a bit. Which means it’s Editing City here in my office, on top of admin stuff, bookings for next year, and traveling.

Going back in my calendar, I realized I’ve traveled a lot in 2013. Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, Paris, Istanbul, Lake Tahoe (again), Denver…

Lancaster Bros. during our first filming outing in Paris last April

…and guess what? My brother Keith and I just coordinated flights and are headed back to Paris in about 3 weeks to finish up the movie we are working on. Time was crunched last trip (3 weeks is pretty ambitious for even the most indie of films) so we missed some shots that we needed. As I understand it, our writer/director has revamped the storyline and added some new stuff, so all of us are headed back to finish up.

There’s a couple more weddings to shoot before the trip, more weddings after the trip, then I’ll be headed to Florida for Thanksgiving (which is also my birthday this year) to see my parents’ new house.

To top it off, one of my good friends (an exchange student from Berlin that I met in 1996) is in town visiting. I had not seen this guy in 16 YEARS, and after a few minutes it felt like nothing had changed:

Martin & Me last week

Oh, and for the first time in my life I actually beat a Zelda game:

Here are some of my other favorite moments since I last updated:

Shot promos for Tracing Figures… a band that contains two of my former band mates from years ago.
Seeing my family at our reunion in Vail, CO. That’s me with my cousin & uncle.
Dusk on Lake Tahoe
Got to shoot Gillian’s wedding at Diablo Ranch in Walnut Creek. She is an old friend from our high school choir days
Vail, CO mountains as the lightning storm started coming in
Aimee & Paul’s wedding at the Rengstorff House in Mountain View
Taryn & Brian’s wedding reception
the moon in Tahoe

It’s been a blast so far! Gonna be hard to top the events of this year when 2014 rolls around. Then again, I said the same thing last year.


Lancaster Media Promo

Well, with the multi-media direction I’ve been taking lately (as opposed to just still photos), it only seemed fitting to finally revamp the image of Lancaster Media.

In case you weren’t aware, my brother and I formed Lancaster Media in 2007 with the idea of being sort of a tag team. In the years following, I focused mostly on wedding and promotional work while he (Keith) began his career as a cinematographer/editor in Los Angeles.

Fast forward a few years, and all of a sudden our interests and fields are starting to overlap again: I’ve been doing more and more video work, and Keith is headed to Paris this summer to learn some still photography).

Don’t worry, I’m still very much for hire if you’re getting married! In fact, my schedule is busier than it has ever been.

But to commemorate the resurgence of the Lancaster Media name, here is our new intro/promo:


Clay & Keith Lancaster

Nick & Sarah Engagement in San Francisco

Later this year I will be lucky enough to photograph Nick & Sarah’s wedding, but we first headed to the Legion of Honor in San Francisco to get a round of engagement photos done.

Such a fun couple, and we all had a blast exploring around the cliffs that overlook the Golden Gate Bridge, or climbing the stone steps of what remains of the Adolf Suttro mansion.





San Francisco City Hall Wedding

Sometimes things drop in your lap. Actually, that’s been most of my business lately.

A friend of mine (who routinely browses Craigslist for various things) came across a couple looking for a last-minute photographer for their quick ceremony at San Francisco City Hall. He copied the link and posted it onto my Facebook wall, of all things.

So when I woke up in the morning and saw his message, I figured “why not?” and sent an email reply to the couple. Within about 45 minutes, we had the event booked.

I hopped on the train into San Francisco for the short and sweet (as city hall weddings tend to be) ceremony, followed by a little bit of just hanging out with the newlyweds and snapping some photos.

San Francisco City Hall Wedding
San Francisco City Hall Wedding


Video Editing Now an Option!

Howdy folks.

In the last year, I’ve had to turn down a lot of video inquiries. Doing video for weddings or musicians is much more time consuming and costly than still-photography, from an overhead standpoint. Not to mention that many people asked about it as well as doing still photography for their wedding… kinda hard to do one when I’m already doing the other.

Since Lancaster Photography is a small operation (meaning: myself, and a few part-time affiliates), it’s just not doable or profitable at this point.

The thing is, I’ve been doing video editing for years and am current with the latest software/methods/formats. It’s been a strong hobby of mine this entire time, along with audio post-work (see the video page for examples).

So, what to do?

I had this thought. Even if you don’t hire a professional camera man with the insanely expensive video rig, you probably have (or will have) a bunch of funny, sweet, silly, stupid, or downright offensive video footage from your wedding/event that you’d like to save, but don’t know exactly what to do with. I’m talking video from iPhones, Flip cams, camcorders, etc. that you or your guests filmed throughout the night.

Now, for an hourly editing fee, you can give me all of that priceless footage (I don’t judge, trust me) to splice together with music, titles, transitions, captions, video enhancements, and audio enhancements… and voila! …you have a movie! Once it’s finished, I can give you the final product in any format you like, including DVD.

Contact me for rates and ideas, and let’s finally do something with all those random video clips that are currently eating up space on your computer’s hard drive.

Walnut Creek Engagement Shoot & 2012 Happenings

2012 is shaping up to be a busy year, and it starts now I guess!

Hopefully it’s a sign of a slight economic recovery, but by January 1st much of my 2012 calendar was already booked. I’ve had to turn away three weddings this week alone because the dates were taken, so get a hold of me soon if you think you’re gonna need me. Great for business, but I hate having to turn people down.

Since the week of New Year’s, I’ve been to Reno, NV – Carson City, NV – San Francisco, CA – Los Angeles, CA… and everywhere in between. That’s a lot of driving, especially when the starter on my car is acting like it’s 90 years old.

Last week I cruised down to Hollywood to work on a video with the other half of Lancaster Media (my brother Keith Lancaster), then came back to the Bay Area to finish edits on a wedding, had a couple of meetings, and then an engagement shoot here in Walnut Creek on Saturday morning. Here are a few of my favorite photos from that session: