The Zuckerberg Wedding: A Tale of Two Photographers

Not many wedding photographers get to shoot a wedding portrait that receives over one million Facebook likes, and not many more go to a wedding expecting to shoot a graduation party. But that’s the story of photographers Noah Kalina and Allyson Magda, and their experience shooting Mark Zuckerberg and Pricilla Chan’s secret wedding.

Noah Kalina — known for his uber-viral everyday timelapse video — shot the photograph you see above, the same photo that was attached to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s status-update wedding announcement that garnered over one million likes. Kalina, who met the couple at a mutual friend’s wedding, received a call from Zuckerberg’s then wife-to-be Priscilla Chan the day before the wedding, hopped a plane the next morning, and arrived with only a couple of hours to spare. He shot the photo using a Canon 5D Mark II and a 24-70mm lens, and says that he spent 15 minutes editing the resulting photographs.

Allyson Magda, a NorCal-based professional photographer, was told what everyone else who attended the wedding was told: that it was a surprise graduation party for Priscilla. Even though the trick has been done before, prompting Magda to assume something fishy was going on, the wedding photographer couldn’t be sure she was actually shooting a wedding until she arrived at the Zuckerbergs’ Palo Alto home.

Details on the wedding itself are still slim, since everyone in attendance (including the photographers) agreed not to disclose any specifics. But what we do know we know because of the pictures that have been released: one ultra-popular portrait taken by a photographer who doesn’t even do weddings, and the rest by a wedding photographer who thought she was shooting a graduation party.

(via Forbes and Businessweek)

Image credit: Photograph by Noah Kalina

  • ennuipoet

    Well that explains some of this awful photo.  If I was the actual Wedding Photographer, I would be screaming my head to let people know this shot was in no way representative of my work.

  • Piet Opperman

    A snapshot. I am not jealous, just sad.

  • Wolf Cocklin

    this shot is proof that spending money on equipment doesn’t make the shot good and if your going to get wedding photos done, get a professional.

  • TALK297

    Looks to me like he missed focus – and the light strand is going right the Zucks head – Maybe thats why he sent 15 min editing

  • Ninpou_kobanashi

    Hmm, if the couple likes it, what’s wrong with it?  Sometimes a snapshot is worth more than a proper portrait.

    Some folks want posed images, others are happy with a echo of reality.

  • Jeffrey Lee

    Given that Zuckerberg’s corporate CEO image is that of a guy wearing a hoodie, I’m not terribly surprised by the sort of unvarnished look of the picture. It does look snapshot-like, but just being a billionaire doesn’t mean your aesthetic leans towards high-end, very polished wedding photography. Having a lot of money means you get whatever you want and no one will tell you no, even when it’s a bad idea.

  • There

    suckerberg looks like a toe, THIS IS AMAZING

  • Frida Ishimwe

    i like this guyz their wedding

  • Lawrence DeVore

    A five year-old could take a better photo.  Hey, it’s their wedding; they did it how they wanted.  Best wishes.

  • Baladas1

    This is not a professional photo. If they wanted it that way, more power to them. It’s kind of surprising given the fact that this guy has good work on his website that it’s obvious he didn’t spent 15 minutes on. It’s kind of cocky and douchy to brag about editing in only 15 minutes.

  • Cindy Bajema

    It’s interesting – everyone is ragging on this photo- but as a portrait I think it is a far more interesting image than any “professional looking” wedding photo. Well done I say.

  • Ron Mooney

     lights growing right out of his ears!

  • ion sokhos

    this is one of the most depressing wedding photos i’ve ever seen. (Are they even holding hands? Why aren’t they smiling?) 

  • Vitaliy Piltser

    How do we even know that this is THE shot from the wedding? Isn’t it just getting all the attention because Zuckerberg used it on his FB page…

    In any case though, this may not be the shot/photographer for you, but it was for them.

  • ion sokhos

    I hear what you’re saying, but at the same time Zuckerberg has fourteen million subscribers to his FB feed and is now one of the most wealthy people in the world. Nothing he does publishes publicly isn’t going to be calculated/planned to the n’th degree. If that doesn’t call for publishing THE shot, then I don’t know what does.

  • Christopher Rusho

    Maybe once you’ve created something that revolutionizes society (certainly in breadth, if not in depth), done it entirely on your own terms — without having to compromise perspective, style, or vision, professionally or personally — and as a result have obtained wealth that is so absolute that it’s not worth counting in any normal sense, where what’s most relevant is the fact that all material needs have been permanently met and all fears permanently erased — maybe then you no longer care about perfecting anything else. Maybe the perfect wedding shot is a comfort or prize he simply doesn’t need or care about.

  • GrammarNazi

    lol “your”

  • GrammarNazi

    lol “your”

  • groovy

    i was ready to knock the photo as well, but the portrait is actually a LOT sharper and in focus on the photographers website, and it isn’t cropped as ridiculously bad as whoever cropped this photo on this site did. 

    im a big fan of petapixel, but you guys didnt do the photo or the photographer justice.  unless the photographer re-did the postprocessing and cropping after getting heat for the image and spent 15 more minutes editing.

  • Mistagregory

    he looks like a muppet

  • _skye_

    Its a horrible wedding photograph, the pair of them need a taxi to be able to touch shoulders, them lights in background are awful and shouldnt be there, to name a few problems

  • 9inchnail

     The one you find everywhere is the one Zuckerberg posted on Facebook. We all know that Facebook compresses the sh** out of photos until they look like this. The photo does indeed look better on the photographers website but is still not really all that good.

  • Pete

     true true… When you look closer you can see that it’s not *just* a shapshot (taken against the sun yet properly exposed, and the photographer obviously bent down). But… even when you try to get the ultimate snapshot-feel to your pictures, the photographer should have avoided lightbulbs growing out of their heads.

    Having said that – I’m sure the couple had plenty of portraits from both photographers, and made a conscious decision to publish this one on Facebook

    I just wonder how many people are furiously trying to hack MZ’s Facebook account to see the other pictures … :)

  • Spider- Man

    LMAO, HEY he’s a pro! ;)

  • Alex

    lol @ people criticising the photo. Does it really matter?

  • Julie

    A great photo will capture you as soon as you see it before you start pulling it apart. This didn’t capture me at all. Where’s the happiness? It’s their wedding day! Many flaws in this photo.

  • Ke25_1973

    At the risk of sounding like an old fart and not that I really care about the specific people involved or this story in particular: this is more proof of our cultural decline. Yup, I just said this. I’m not technophobic, I like innovation and the innovating risk takers and game changers that come with it. IPOs are great as well. And that a celebrity choses a low key wedding to his college sweat heart is charming in a way.
    But the more than unimpressive picture above somehow matches the hype around a company that is based more on coincidence than on genius or some kind of thought process. It’s telling that the “value” of this company for it’s IPO is more than, for example, was rated at that of GM and Ford combined. More than Disney. More than many other very viable companies that actually turn real profits in the real world. So once Facebook declines into obscurity in a little while we might want to go back and look again of this unfocused snapshot of another one of those hyped female photography personalities of the early digital and internet age.
    I’m glad that at our wedding we had an actual pro with experience. And he shot film – and he liked it.

  • 9inchnail

    Yeah, it does, because he has all the money, a good looking wife and all we have is our camera. We have to find something to nag about in Suckerberg’s life to be able to look in the mirror in the morning.

  • TW

    If you’re gonna critique a photographer you should at least judge the one they actually took:

  • EC

    For starters, there’s that line through their heads…

  • Lee Harris

    Well, now you know what money can’t buy you it seems….

  • FrankyFiveFingers

    The photo found on the photographer’s site is not the same photo as this one. The lights are located further from her head in his posted photo.

  • heyhohey

    Says the person who was not called by a billionaire to shoot their wedding. 

  • heyhohey

    Who cares? 

  • Timothy Archibald

    Kalina is a great photographer. This photograph had alway impressed me with it’s casual and utterly human approach. Inspiring to think that Chan and Zuckerberg acknowledged his skills as well.

  • Nfoust

    If you look on Noahs website, you would see the entire photo rather than a crop. Everything is in focus and I dont believe he was bragging about editing it for 15 minutes. He was simply stating a fact. Everyone sitting here critiquing this photo without even looking at his other work is retarded. 


    i actually like this photo. not for its technical qualities but the almost surreal look about it. its super posed. the fake smiles, the stiff propped up look in Marks stance. Artistically in think this photo is genius. it reminds me of this

  • GlossGreen

    Something about that guy just creeps me out. It’s his wedding day and it looks like he is faking the smile, it doesn’t show in his eyes. Still, congrats and good luck.

  • johngarb

    Honestly, to me, that line really is distracting as all get out. I actually don’t mind the casual nature of the shot or the dopey look on his face–it’s kind of cute–but sloppy backgrounds drive me nuts, sorry.

  • Mercedes

    In 2012 can’t you have headlined it the Zuckerberg-Chan wedding?

  • deluxe1

    How refreshing, a mega-rich couple having a down to earth wedding and photos in the garden. So nice after all the celebrity weddings we see with plastic brides and grooms trying to prove how fabulously wealthier than everyone else they are. May they live happily ever after – and I love the photo.

  • 9inchnail

    This stiff propped up look is Zuckerberg’s natural look. That’s just the way he is.

  • 9inchnail

     Normal couples have only that one day to be “glorious”. Zuckerberg can show people that he has more money than them every day of every week. He doesn’t even need to show people, everybody knows.

  • Nachtportier

    There we have another Bill-Gates-type-of-guy for the next decade or so. The girl looks smart and we all know she didn’t marry him for his intelligence or his looks.

  • Jake

    You are reading waayyy too much into this.

  • Jostein Roalkvam

     And not a single fuck was given.

  • Clara Fran

    The photographer shouldn’t have edited it at all; it was already a poor shot to begin with, and he made it worse. In the original photo ( ) Priscilla’s face looks happier, and the lightbulbs are further away from her head. In the edited picture, they are going through her head and her face looks sad and tired. I saw this edited picture and wondered why she looked so unhappy at her own wedding – until I saw the original just now. Her smile may not be big or have teeth showing, but you can see the smile in her eyes, in the original.

  • Lamebook

    Not really, the photo is properly exposed with the sun behind, he used one  off camera flash with diffuser on a overhead position and an off camera flash or reflector as filler. Yes the photo is not perfect but considering your profile pic I doubt a 5 year old could take a better one

  • Lomois

    They have been together for 9 years…

  • Matt

    I’m a 17 year old that shoots Bar and Bat Mitzvahs professionally and I could have done a better job than this.