From photographing President Barack Obama to snapping for society pages, Moanalani Jeffrey and partner Ellian Raffoul are two of the most recognizable photographers in San Francisco. Both regulars on the San Francisco social scene, these beautiful ladies not only chronicle SF society, they are SF society.
Moanalani Jeffrey, an SF transplant from Hawaii, is the principal Photographer and Founder of Moanalani Jeffrey Photography. Her fresh approach and trusted execution have earned her exclusive coverage for clients like President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Us Magazine and the San Francisco Symphony to name a few.
Ellian is a Bay Area native who has experience working on both sides of the lens. Her portfolio of work includes print and commercial campaigns for major national clients. Behind the scenes, she is a Photographer and the Office Manager at Moanalani Jeffrey Photography. Her experience with high profile clientele coupled with a degree in Communications Studies, Radio, Television and Film, has earned her a spot snapping away at SF’s elite.
Where were you born ?
Moanalani: Hilo, Hawaii (the Big Island)
Ellian: Santa Clara, CA
How long in San francisco:
Moanalani: Eight years
Ellian: Four years
Moanalani: Nob Hill
Ellian: South Beach
Moanalani: Principal Photographer | Founder of Moanalani Jeffrey Photography
Ellian: Model, Photographer & Office Manager at Moanalani Jeffrey Photography
Ellian: La Folie
Moanalani: Sushi Zone for dressed down, hands down great sushi and Ozumo for a night on the town.
Ellian: Umami for the ambiance and specialty rolls, Sushi Zone is my ultimate favorite.
Moanalani: I just experienced Cafe Maccaroni and can't wait to go back. The octopus was amazing and my experience was like something out of a movie.
Ellian: Aperto in Potrero Hill or Farina Focaccia & Cucina Italiana in the Mission. Both have great food but different atmospheres.
Moanalani: I'm trying to slim down for Mid-Winter Gala don't remind me!
Ellian: Raspberry cheesecake at the Plant Organic.
Moanalani: The Big 4.
Ellian: Playland Bar just opened on Polk Street. It is so much fun to pop in for a quick drink and dance!
Best place for a power business meeting:
Moanalani: When I'm not shooting you can find me at Caruso's in the Westin St. Francis. You can get a Scotch and comfortable wifi after-hours. I do the Four Seasons for something more formal.
Ellian: The private room in the Cigar Bar.
All-around favorite spot in San francisco:
Moanalani: Impossible, SF is a blend, that is the beauty. From The Ramp to jogging past the houseboats behind Berry Street on a sunny day, the Lost Art Salon or La Folie in the evening, one makes the other more amazing. But at the end of the day I just can't seem to move out of Nob Hill. Many of my favorites are there or in walking distance. It's old SF with an eccentric touch and some new blood.
Ellian: Coit Tower / Telegraph Hill, I love getting to the top and enjoying the view
If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend?
Moanalani: The Huntington, that is my "San Francisco".
Ellian: The Clift is fun and the Hunnington feels like old San Francisco.
Favorite shopping venue/boutique:
Moanalani: I live up the street so bouncing around downtown has everything I need.
Ellian: Heritage Row on Chesnut is a super cute new boutique.
Moanalani: The Nob Hill Spa at the Hotel Huntington.
Ellian: Nob Hill Spa, I could live there!
Favorite Charity Event:
Moanalani: Volunteering during the holidays, hands on and face to face.
Ellian: I love the Symphony Black and White Ball
Favorite Cultural Event:
Moanalani: Any fashion exhibit at one of the Fine Arts Museums
Ellian: Chinese New Year
Favorite Cultural Institution:
Moanalani: Cafe Cocomo. I put my salsa shoes on and let the men do the rest.
Ellian: de Young & Legion of Honor
Best Aspect of San francisco:
Moanalani: It's as close to Europe without leaving the states…I just wish the city slept a little less.
Ellian: San Francisco is such a romantic city. I really like the balance of city life and nature, which appeals to the Gemini in me.
Moanalani: Harris, my answer like their bone-in ribeye is to the point.
Ellian: Harris for the steak tartar or filet minion.
Moanalani: Orgasmica for standing after a late night or Beretta for sitting down.
Ellian: Gluten free is hard to find that's why I enjoy the mushroom and truffle oil pizza at Plant Organic.
Moanalani: Oysters at Pearl or Hog Island in the Ferry Building.
Ellian: I always enjoy going to Chez Maman.
Best Gym/Athletic Facility:
Moanalani: Bay Club, it's heaven.
Ellian: I prefer outdoor exercise and the Embarcadero has a great view.
Moanalani: I have the best in home masseuse, nothing has ever come close. She works on the Oracle racing team.
Ellian: I love the aromatherapy head and scalp massage before my blow-out at Cetana Salon.
Best Limousine/Driving Service:
Moanalani: Uber, I like spontaneous instant gratification.
Ellian: I've got the best black car service, my fiancé drives me everywhere :)
Moanalani: Henry Wessel when he showed at the SFMOMA, it's why I became a photographer.
Ellian: King Tut & YSL when they were at the de Young and I want to catch the Royal Treasures from the Louvre: Louis XIV to Marie Antoinette before it leaves next month
Favorite historic/legendary place to see or explore:
Moanalani: The cable cars, a historic landmark that can take you to other historic landmarks! Also romantic on a date. Meet for drinks at Clock Bar than get dropped at Gary Danko.
Ellian: City Lights Bookstore is a magical place
Best place for a romantic date:
Moanalani: A bottle of red on a row boat at Stow lake. A bottle of red at Aquatic park, Palace of Fine Arts, the patch of grass at the end of Vallejo where it meets Russian Hill Place etc.
Ellian: Any place in the city can be romantic, it all just depends on who you are with.
Best Sunday brunch:
Moanalani: I love Mama's after finishing the Coit Tower stairs.
Ellian: 620 Jones is perfect on a sunny day.