Senator Feinstein’s Memorial Events: Lying In State & Memorial Service

It was an honor to be included with the press corps during Senator Feinstein’s memorial events. I found the lying in state in San Francisco’s City Hall very beautiful. Solo or small groups of classical string musicians played in the rotunda as the line to spend a moment in from of the Senator’s casket never stopped. People paid their respects in so many different ways, by themselves or with loved ones. I had the luxury to be able to take my time, and try and take it in from many different vantage points, but the sharp contrasts and dim lighting were certainly a challenge!

The day after Senator Feinstein’s lying in state, I was able to attend her memorial service. While the public was originally going to be able to attend, plans changed due to security concerns. As with any secret service event I have been to, it was a lot of waiting and security. Five hours on the hottest day in San Francisco was not exactly fun, but the service itself was a lovely tribute to the senator. Speakers included San Francisco Mayor London Breed, VP Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Shumer, Representative and Former House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Eileen Mariano (granddaughter of the senator.) To see Outword Magazine’s tribute to the senator, check out page 3 of the new issue at https://issuu.com/outwordmagazine/docs/730_anti_hate_10-12-23_web


  • Nikon 750 and 780 bodies
  • Nikkor 70-200 mm f/2.8 zoom
  • Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom
  • 20mm, f/1.4 prime
  • Nikkor 1.4x teleconverter
  • Monopod


Day 1

had several challenges for photographing this event. Of course, City Hall was fairly dark. The spotlights on the Senator’s caskets made the image of granddaughter Eileen Mariano touching it probably the single highest quality image I got that day. I was actually walking on the second level to the other side when I caught a glimpse out of my peripheral vision of the guards moving the velvet cord for her. She probably stood there less than a minute or so. After two quick images, I went to get an article to get more of a front view, but the moment was gone. by then.

Besides the dim interior there were blindly burned out highlights on the floor from the light the windows let in. As you can see, I made many, many exposures both using. and avoiding the hot spots. By the time the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus came out, it was getting very, very dark. Everything was handheld, and in hindsight, I should have brought a tripod. City Hall was a walk from my hotel, however, and I already had a bunch of gear, so did. not bring one.

Day 2

As I mention above, the next day was excruciatingly hot and somewhat humid. In addition to all the time waiting. on the black press riser, I only had my monopod. Again, I should have brought my tripod, but I know the press risers are often crowded. and monopods are most commonly used and taken up less space. However, unlike some of the strong and very experienced sports shooters there with big lenses like my 200-400, I just missed a lot of shots because I was fairly shaky by the time the event started. In hindsight, given the nausea I was also experiencing by the end of the service, I think I got a little heat exhaustion. I won’t bore you with any more details of my physical challenges, but I’ve definitely decided to invest in a roller bag for my big lens for the future!

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All photos are copyright Chris Allan and cannot be used without my written permission. Please contact me for usage rights. Thank you for reading my blog post “Senator Feinstein’s Memorial Events: Lying In State & Memorial Service.” To learn more about me and my work, please see my About page.

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