There’s no shortage of things to do in San Francisco, no matter how common or rare your interests are. Art and history buffs can explore the museums and historical sites scattered around the city, nature lovers can breathe in the views from one hiking trail to the next, and adrenaline junkies can walk down the many crooked streets for an unusual high (we’re only joking). With the city being home to so many occupations, personal or professional, brands and publications can capitalize on unique blends of imagery to sell a story, product, or service. To represent these different flavors of vision, it’s best to rely on people who know the city in and out, and a good place to start is with the best lifestyle photographers in San Francisco.
At Wonderful Machine, lifestyle photography depicts “an idealized, aspirational version of real life, usually showing happy, attractive people in nice clothing doing fun things in beautiful places.”
Each San Francisco lifestyle photographer on our list has an innate ability to find the beauty in living: through the people, activity, and settings caught on camera. Hiring any of them for your next commercial or editorial assignment would be the first step leading to some breathtaking images.
Adam Wells is a San Francisco lifestyle photographer who celebrates our connection to the great outdoors. His images reveal people adhering to a way of life that respects and honors the natural world. For him and the subjects in his photos, living is an adventure, more so when the rivers, lakes, oceans, and forests are right beside us.
His lifestyle portfolio aims to document authentic experiences, making him an ideal candidate for commercial and editorial campaigns seeking a realistic flourish. Adam’s approach behind the camera has been desired by the likes of Starbucks, National Geographic, Yeti, CLIF Bar & Company, and Cotopaxi, among many others.
Sure, we eat to live, but now more than ever, it’s safe to say that most people live to eat. Food and drink are a source of comfort during stressful times, a reward during moments of triumph, and an instrument for social bonding more effective than words and action. Colin Price, a food photographer in San Francisco, understands this better than anyone else. His lifestyle portfolio is a case study in all of the above, portraying the universal success of food in uniting friends, families, and strangers.
Colin’s a perfect choice for brands and publications looking to capture this magnetic quality of the things we eat, and how integral they are to our way of life, beyond just fueling the body.
With more than 25 years of experience in photography, Ted Thomas is at that point in his career where worry, anxiety, and panic are non-existent. There isn’t a problem he hasn’t encountered, and there isn’t a solution he hasn’t applied. Over those two-plus decades behind the camera, Ted has photographed food, people, products, travel, and lifestyle. Basically, he can do it all by now. We might also add that he’s comfortable handling motion projects as well.
Ted is adored by his clients, which is no surprise considering the longevity of his career. Brands love his enthusiasm, flexibility, and all-around professionalism on set, leading to repeat collaborations with these reputable businesses. Some of Ted’s clients include Safeway, Sur la Table, Lagunitas, Starbucks, Cowgirl Creamery, Chronicle Books, Insight Editions, McEvoy Ranch, Cost Plus World Market, Sunglass Hut, Discovery, and eBay.
After being trained in a photography school in the Berkshires, Ian Hanson headed off to New York City for a bit more learning. He worked under several interior, food, still life, and fashion photographers, soaking it all in before his own style of photography emerged. Being immersed in different specialties was a vital education, helping Ian reach a level of comfort on sets that some photographers never attain. Now, he’s based in San Francisco, exploring the outdoors and best eats in town with his wife and two boxers when work isn’t knocking at his door.
Ian’s lifestyle imagery focuses on family, in and around the home. While hours of planning and setup go into each photo, the end result feels effortlessly unscripted, showing households engaged in an idyllic way of life: from meals on the patio to simple lounging in the living room.
Ian has collaborated with brands and publications such as Google Wing, Nutribullet, Banana Republic, Rolling Stone, InStyle, Architectural Digest, Kohler, and Walmart, among others.
Angela DeCenzo is a San Francisco lifestyle photographer whose approach to life and work mirror each other: centered on honest human connection. Her portfolio is the very definition of carefree living, as her subjects frolic in a state of constant bliss, engaged in the simple moments of life. Flicking through a vinyl collection, drinking with friends, or cycling through the countryside. Simple moments no doubt, but ones brimming with an abundance of human connection.
Angela’s heartfelt style of photography has gained a following of brands: Adobe, Modern Luxury, Wine Spectator, The Wall Street Journal, Edible SF, Modern Coffee, and countless others.
Before commencing his photography career, Jayms Ramirez was an adventurer on the road, traveling through Mexico, Central America, South America, and Southeast Asia. He began by producing content for the Travel Channel and has since moved on to shoot stills and motion projects with the same sense of audacious exploration he has lived. Considering his modus operandi, it’s best to classify him as an active lifestyle photographer, documenting people as they venture out of their homes and into the whole wild world.
Through all his travels, Jayms has amassed a client list that includes Land Rover, Oprah Magazine, Nat Geo Adventure, Nature Air, Haute-Living Magazine, and many more brands and publications.
Flicking through Meg Smith’s lifestyle portfolio is like watching all the best scenes of “Under the Tuscan Sun.” The Sun stays up during the day and pulls a double shift at night. In fact, the time of day is irrelevant, as it bathes people and the surrounding in an eternal romantic afterglow. We’ve reached the final act of a happy love story, and the good news is that we’re stuck there for the rest of our lives.
Meg’s philosophy in lifestyle imagery is best described as “unfussy elegance with authenticity,” giving images an organic quality through the lighting, color, and setting. Her recent collaborations include those with The Men’s Wearhouse, Chanel, and TKRG. She also has an A-list clientele featuring names such as Anne Hathaway, LeAnne Rimes, and Jimmy Kimmel.
There seems to be a 100% overlap between San Francisco lifestyle photographers and nature lovers, and that includes Rachid Dahnoun. He’s an award-winning photographer who was on the Nikon 100 List composed of the world’s top 100 rising photographers, and his images of the outdoors have graced the pages of National Geographic, Backpacker, SKI, and Outside, to name a few.
Rachid’s lifestyle images come under the umbrella of his travel and hospitality portfolio. They show patrons experiencing a more luxurious slice of life, from excursions at distant golf courses to R&R sessions at resort spas. Brands and publications in this sector would be in good hands with Rachid.
A life without pets is a life not worth living. While Wonderful Machine has a separate specialty for animal photography in which Mark Rogers would receive top billing, he deserves mention here as one of the best lifestyle photographers in San Francisco. Cats, dogs, and pets of other shapes and sizes are members of our households without reservation. Moreover, most of our aspirational versions of life no doubt include a pet or two, in addition to the white picket fence.
We’d say that qualifies Mark Rogers’ inclusion on our list, as he depicts how individuals and families create their dream lives with cats and dogs in tow. In addition to expected clients such as the PetSmart Foundation and Pet Food Express, Mark Rogers’ pet lifestyle photography has been commissioned by the likes of Smucker’s, Chevron, and AARP.
While including talent that is typical of the specialty, our list of the best lifestyle photographers in San Francisco consists of a few entries with more niche interests. One way or another, your next photographic assignment is in good hands with these individuals.
Find more lifestyle photographers in San Francisco through our directory.
Learn more about lifestyle photography as a specialty at Wonderful Machine.
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