“ His heart jumps in to his throat – The whole world stops as he drops to one knee and looks up into the eyes of his beautiful bride-to-be”
Photographing a wedding proposal is one of the coolest things a photographer can do. The tension, the mystery, the “cloak and dagger” … and then there’s the profuse sweating by the guy/girl who’s doing the proposing !
So, the first thing I do after I’m asked is acknowledge how cool they are for asking me . HA! Then immediately calm their nerves and let them know that I’m the expert in capturing this moment which can never be repeated so that they can have it forever. And all they need to worry about is “Putting a Ring on it” and not throwing up all over their soon to be fiance of course.
The Chase – following them before the proposal
So, what goes into photographing a wedding proposal ? Preparation – that’s what
Being Prepared for all the Scenarios … and there are a million of them !
You’re going to draw a crowd if you’re hiding in the bushes … or you might start a parade behind you if you’re following the couple and taking pictures . Yes, it’s happened just about every time that I’ve photographed a proposal. So I’ve got to be prepared to quietly and politely tell my followers to “go away”
What if some knuckle head yells “Hey … is he gonna propose?? “ (before he’s ready to .. propose) They’re in public … so anything can happen. I remind the future groom that if this happens that he can still drop to one knee and get cracking with the proposal just as if the “knuckle head outburst” was a part of his plan. It will be a good story for the groom’s wedding day toast anyway.
He wants to propose during a romantic dinner in a crowded restaurant. Logistics and planning are king here. You’ll need a clear line of sight to the couple of course. No waiters walking in front of you. No guests from other tables standing in front of you to applaud. No one running up to you and grabbing your camera saying “you can’t photograph in here!!” So they have to make sure that their table is reserved well in advance. And figure out (clear it with the management) where you’re going to be. Hiding in a closet? Sitting at the bar? Sitting at an adjacent table? Simple details maybe, but like I said – Logistics ! So you’ll want to arrive at the venue early, speak with the restaurant manager and make sure that everything is in place, including you.
He wants to propose at a family gathering – It’s not so much logistics in this case as it is keeping the family members from standing in front of you with their “big fancy cameras” . One way is to not tell anyone that the proposal is going to happen. Because I can promise you that if everyone knows that someone’s not going to be able to keep the secret and the bride will find out. And by the way – why are you there at their family cookout anyway ? Are you a long lost cousin ? One of the waitstaff ? Are you serving drinks? I suggest that you have a good cover story and bring someone you know with you so that you can interact with them until “the moment of proposal”
OK – He’s proposed and she’s accepted – how long do you wait to go up to the couple ? If they’re alone on the street or in a restaurant you should usually keep photographing until the groom-to-be calls you over. This could be a long time as the couple shares some private time … or it could be right away . At this point it’s an Engagement session with lots of kissing, walking through the park and ring shots. Happy day ! If it’s at a family gathering then treat it like a party and photograph all the well wishers and the crazy party which will certainly break out.
The Chase – following the couple with your parade behind you before the proposal
Reasons you may want to have a written agreement and payment in advance: – some of these may make you smile … but once again – you’re preparing for all outcomes
The most obvious reason is so that all the details are documented and so that the groom-to-be doesn’t need to worry about paying you that day.
And then there’s the other reasons:
What if she doesn’t accept his proposal ? Not your fault and you deserve to be paid in full. But what do you do after she turns him down? Typically you need to keep photographing from a distance as they talk – you see it’s easier to delete the photos that you take and that they may never want to see than it is to create the photos that you didn’t take and they will wonder why you didn’t . There is a chance that she will still accept the proposal after a few minutes. No matter what – you do not just walk away without trying to speak with the groom-to-be. Even if it is just to quickly say good-bye.
The groom decides not to propose that day – Not your fault and you deserve to be paid in full. But you can certainly offer to reschedule for a day that you are free,
The groom couldn’t contain himself and proposes before the agreed upon place and time – If it’s still logistically possible – you can meet them and just have a nice engagement session.
Photographing a proposal session requires that you are part sleuth and part photographer. But mostly you need to be prepared. Assure the groom-to-be that you’ll be there and all he needs to do … is propose !
Now, who wants to come along on my next undercover operation?
Here’s a look at the proposal as it unfolded
The Chase – Following, ducking in doorways, creating a parade behind me , before the proposal
A bit of laughter after the proposal – he’s still holding the ring
She accepts ! The proposal – he’s still holding the ring
She accepts ! The proposal and he’s still holding the ring !
Finally the ring is on her finger
Now it’s time to let let them know that you’ve been there and ‘let’s have that engagement session” – that is if you can get their attention !
The engagement session – after the proposal
The engagement session – after the proposal