Little Bat Photography in San Francisco

Today I am thrilled to talk about yet another amazing APW sponsor that I’ve had the chance to work with personally. (That’s twice in one week! I am a lucky duck.) This time though, I get to sing the praises of Jillian of Little Bat Photography in San Francisco, who was one of the first people to open her arms to me when I moved to California last year.

If I were in a confessing mood, I’d tell you that for the longest time I was kind of intimidated by Jillian. She just seems so cool online, with the glitter and the cool vintage dresses and the crazy travel adventures. But then I met Jillian in person and discovered that she is one of the most approachable people in this industry. In fact, her personality is so infectious that I have, ahem, possibly lost a client or two to Little Bat Photography because they met with Jillian first and came back saying, “Sorry, she’s just too awesome to pass up.” And the funny thing is, with someone like her, I can’t help but agree (at least I know they’re in good hands).

But it’s not just Jillian herself that makes Little Bat Photography magical. It’s the relationship between Little Bat and APW. You see, Jillian’s day job is at Twitter, and she’s been there for quite a while, which means she is equipped with some serious social media clout. Little Bat Photography could easily be one of those snobby fancy photographers that hob knobs and rubs elbows with the big wedding blogs. But instead, Jillian chooses to make a home for Little Bat Photography here at APW. And the reason why is, simply, because you guys are awesome (seriously, do we tell you this enough?). Jillian told me, “By being a part of the APW community, I’ve been able to work with the most amazing people in the world. Literally—they amaze me. They are strong and filled with beauty. They are sincere and unique. They are gay and straight, transgender and diverse. They teach me constantly about love and chemistry, and they remind me with every encounter why I’m a wedding photographer. To be a part of the celebration of such a meaningful union—and to be able to use my creativity to contribute to the memories of that relationship is the most fulfilling career I can think of. APW has been a place where people can come together and always feel safe and supported—where I can be my slightly eccentric self and I know I’m being found by people who share a common belief in the things that matter—is something I’m constantly grateful for.”

And you know, it’s that mutual love that really gets me. Because Jillian is a little eccentric (in all of the best ways. She’s somehow a perfect mix of the cool theater girl that you secretly hope gets famous so that you can say you knew her when and the hip art kid that you know would never sell out for fame anyway). And you guys accept all of Jillian’s awesome quirks with open arms because it means that what you’re getting out of Little Bat Photography is an authentic exchange of ideas and personalities, not some bullsh*t relationship fabricated by the wedding industry.

But the cool, eccentric individualism doesn’t stop at Jillian’s personality. It’s in her work and her artistic approach too. Jillian explained her Little Bat Photography’s philosophy to me, saying “When I’m photographing your wedding, I’m always there. I arrive in a party dress with big pockets and am there to be your bouncer or your confidant or to get out of the way so I can document everything without you realizing I’m right there. I’m weaving in and out of the party, chatting with your friends and grandmas so they trust me and my cameras. I will likely have a few old film cameras on my side, and I might be found in the mud if I think the view is better there. Either way, I’m there, trying not to cry during your vows, laughing during your speeches, and enjoying the party with my cameras in hand.”

But the proof is in the pudding. Jillian’s pictures are something special. The combination of digital and film, old cameras and new cameras breathe life into Little Bat Photography’s portfolio in a way that makes you feel like you were actually there. (I mean, can we talk about the top photo of this post? Jillian’s work is definitely a mix of digital and film, but man her film work just knocks it out of the park.) And the best part is that getting your pictures taken by Jillian is one of the least painful photography experiences you can have. (I know that is what everyone here is secretly crossing their fingers for.) Plus, I don’t know if I mentioned it clearly enough, but Jillian is just plain fun to be around, and she makes you feel like everything you’re doing is already perfect and doesn’t need any work. (Um, sign me up? Please?)

An interesting part of the conversation I had with Little Bat Photography before her sponsored post was when I asked Jillian if she offers any discounts on her pricing, to which she replied, “I don’t believe in discounts.” Now, given our post this morning I was naturally intrigued. So I probed a little deeper and got a really interesting answer from her. She said, “Money is an uncomfortable topic for most people, and bargaining feels like a bad way to start a relationship. I think it’s easier and healthier to have open and clear pricing for what I think is a fair exchange. (But I’m always willing to work out options with couples who really want to work with me but can’t afford my packages.)” And then she added, “The other reason I don’t like to offer discounts is that I think it creates an idea of unfairness. No one likes buying that dress and then seeing it on sale two weeks later. If we’ve just decided to work together and then I have a ‘sale,’ you’re going to feel cheated. Some people will end up feeling happy while others will feel sad. By making a policy of never offering discounts, you’re not going to get stuck waiting and expecting that maybe you can do better.” Which—first can I get a round of applause for a vendor who will tell it to you straight, even if their philosophy might be unpopular with prospective clients? Because that takes conviction. And then second, I just appreciate that her decision takes you guys into consideration as much as it does herself.

Which brings me to pricing. Jillian wasn’t lying when she said that Little Bat Photography prides itself on clear and upfront pricing. Jillian offers three super straight-forward packages, with pricing based on the number of hours booked. Four hours coverage is $2,580; six hours coverage is $3,450; and a full day of coverage is $5,670. All packages include: A complimentary engagement photo session; about 70–100 final images per hour booked; final processed images on a USB drive at full res for you to keep, share, post, print, etc.; and a maximum two week turnaround time for your images (which I’m pretty sure requires witchcraft to make happen).

At the end of the day, I feel like words can’t do justice to how easy it is to fall in love with Little Bat Photography. But the short of it is that Jillian is someone worth getting to know. So I think the best thing to do is for you to get in touch with her and find out for yourself. And seriously, do it now before Little Bat Photography’s calendar fills up (which it will. Promise). It’ll be the best gift you give yourself all season.

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  • Beth

    I love Jillian and Little Bat Photography SO MUCH… she photographed the wedding of me and my transgender partner this summer (we’re the 2nd picture down, and the last picture in this post). She was not only an INSANE photographer, but she turned out to be like the best friend I never had – chatty, creative, hilarious, supportive, and just THERE for you. When she walked into the room on the wedding day, I breathed a sigh of relief because I knew, “ok, Jillian’s here, everyting’s going to be ok.” She just has this very supportive nature that makes you feel like the whole day is going to be awesome, no matter what.

    And can we just talk about her photos for a sec? I mean… some of the best, most artistic photos I’ve ever seen! She captured so much joy from our wedding. And her turnaround time was super fast!!

    So, if you’re looking for an awesome, down to earth, fun, creative, talented photographer, call Jillian. You won’t be disappointed.

    Love you Jillian!!

  • I am in love with Jillian’s work just by taking a look at her portfolio and her blog. And yeah she seems SO MUCH FUN. Makes me want to be in San Francisco and take pics of us, even if we are already married and everything.

  • Dana

    Jillian was probably the best decision we made for our wedding. We are in love with our pictures and all of our friends and family have given us compliments on them. I hate having my photo taken but Jillian, for having such a big personality, has a way of melting in to the background to capture incredible moments without you realizing she is there. When we went in to wedding planning, we weren’t looking to make friends, but I feel like I really have with her. Jillian’s just like that, she’s special. She is a people person and knows how to make big, tough Aussie guys feel comfortable in front of the camera as well as your parents and older guests. We had so many compliments about Jillian herself and were glad that she was able to put down her camera at the end of the night and enjoy a bit of the party with us. I would recommend Little Bat Photography to anyone who asks because on the day Jillian is going to make you feel amazing and because you feel amazing (and because Jillian is a great photographer) you’re going to walk a way with photos that are amazing. Because we have so many great shots to choose from, we’re struggling to figure out which ones we want to get printed and framed!

  • One of the things that really struck me when first looking at Jillian’s portfolio is the way she captures personalities and the overall feel of a wedding – nothing feels canned or posed. For our wedding, she managed to be in all the right places at once, capturing the laughter, joy and emotion of our wedding day without ever making us feel like we had to pause in our celebration.

    To say I love our photos is an understatement – like Dana mentions above, choosing which to print was a huge task because was beautiful. Plus, I received them an impressive three days after our ceremony – and she shot another wedding that same weekend. I still can’t wrap my head around just how she did that.

    She’s witty, has oodles of talent, is professional and warm and charmed our whole families. In short, Jillian’s the gal you want to have around on your wedding day.

    (That’s me in the short lace dress!)

  • Jen

    I have to chime in here with another glowing endorsement of Jillian. She (in a dream team with Maddie!) shot our wedding in June and our engagement photos (solo), and we have gotten rave reviews from all strata of family and friends, from the artsy/indie types to those who are solidly in the posed/glossy/over-processed/watermarked camp. Not to mention we ourselves love them and are also daunted by the task of creating an album because everything is just so gorgeous and captures so many memorable moments. Jillian’s professional and personal style are both deliciously beautiful in every way mentioned above, with the standouts for me being artistry, making people feel comfortable in front of the camera, and that really-hard-to-beat turn-around time.

  • Wow really interesting and nice post. I enjoyed your whole story and awesome photography ideas.