A proposal is one of those major life events that are so full of happiness and hope for the future, you'll want to remember as many details as possible. Know what'll help? Pictures!
"What's cool about proposal photos is that they're 'engagement photos' in the literal sense of the phrase," says Mary Marantz, one half of the award-winning photography duo Justin & Mary. "The actual joy and high are still happening."
The surprise element is both a blessing and a curse: The upside is the potential for a lifelong keepsake capturing your lovestruck self in its most natural state. The downside is you run the risk of a bad hair day or outfit, an obstructed view from your photographer's hiding spot in the bushes, or you sussing out what's happening.
Still, there's little that planning and preparation can't fix! To that end, we called in wedding photographers Aileen Choi, James and Jess Wittmayer of James and Jess Photography, and the previously mentioned Justin and Mary Marantz— and asked them about everything you, your soon-to-be fiancé, and your photographer should know about proposal pics and emerged with the below seven tips. Now all you need to do is share them with you-know-you and wait...
1. Consider Hiring a Professional (Ideally, the One Who Will Become Your Wedding Photographer)
To those of you proposing — we get that your buddy Dan is well-meaning and has a fancy camera, but enlisting the services of a legit pro will 1) grant you access to his/her knowledge about what makes a great photograph and 2) allow you to test run him/her as a potential wedding day shooter. (If you do end up using amateurs, make sure their camera setting is on the highest speed with a continuous shutter, "so you're getting a few different versions of the big emotional moment," says Mary, and end up at least one flattering shot.)
Mary Marantz suggests using "the same investigative skills you used to find a ring she (he) likes to find out her (his) favorite photographer."
Ladies and gentlemen-in-waiting, this is where you come in! If you don't want your partner's decision left up to a Google search, make your dream wedding photographer's identity known. Share a website link. Comment on a social media post. Literally look your person in the eye and say, 'When we do this thang, I want so-and-so." Plus, the more time you spend with your photographer, the more natural the process and your photos become, so "the ideal is to have one photographer through the whole journey — proposal, engagement, wedding, anniversary," Mary says.
2. Plan, Plan, Plan
Good news for those proposing: you're not alone. "Planning ahead with your photographer is how you'll get the ideal light, location and positioning," says Choi. If your ideal backdrop is a very public area, she suggests contacting the space beforehand to see if they can help with finding a secluded spot or crowd control. "If you can, walk the location beforehand with your photographer at the exact time of day you plan on dropping to a knee," write James and Jess. If a literal walkthrough with your photographer is unrealistic, FaceTime or send a video, but "by the end, you should know exactly where you'll be standing to propose and which direction to face," says James and Jess, and the photographer will know exactly where to be for that perfect, unobstructed, shot. Then, on the day-of, don't be late! As James and Jess point out, "The sun sets at a specific time."
One strategy to aid proposal recipients in their own planning to be camera-ready, is coming up with an alternative reason for a photoshoot, says Mary. "Tell them a photographer needs a model for a styled shoot or is trying out new equipment," she says. "It can be as involved as having your photographer post a casting call on Facebook—knowing your partner will respond—and happen to pick you guys."
Meanwhile, if you're the one expecting a proposal and concerned about looking your best, there's nothing wrong with taking a little extra pride in your appearance until it happens, say Jess and James. Any time it doesn't, you still look great. Win-win. (Heads-up! Reds, oranges, and hot pinks are not your friends on a digital camera, warns Mary.)
3. Share the Attention
It takes two to get engaged, so don't forget to capture both of your reactions. Mary recommends two photographers, one for each person, "since his (her) face asking is the one she's going to want to remember." And Justin adds, "Sometimes you need two angles to tell the whole story."