Not long ago, a friend of mine (who was about to propose to my girlfriends best friend) asked me if I would like to be the surprise photographer. Of course my answer was yes, too.
I arrived early that day to help setup, and figure out my place to hide. The plan was for Blake to take Nicole out to dinner, while I setup a GoPro camera hidden above for video, and figure out where to take pictures from. (Luckily I had the help of my girlfriend, Sierra – who also does photography and video to help setup and choose the best spot to be.) Upon finishing dinner, Blake would lead Nicole back to his house for a homemade dessert, but before dessert he would lead her into the beautifully decorated backyard.
The backyard was filled with hundreds of pictures of the two of them throughout high school and college. On the back of each picture was a special memory or note that could be removed and placed in a scrap book for future keeping.
My biggest concerns with the shoot were:
1) Being spotted to early and ruining it all
2) Getting the shot in the moment
3) The sun would be setting and it would be getting darker. Using a flash would blow my cover.
After the two of them had been gone for dinner, I got a text saying that dinner was finished early and they were on there way back! This was good news for me, because the sun would be setting, but still light enough for photos without a flash. (Woohoo!). Sierra stood guard by the front door / window ready to yell to the backyard when they would be arriving. I waited in the backyard with the GoPro remote to start the camera for video, and then get into my hiding spot.
As they arrived, things couldn’t have gone more perfectly.
I started the camera, and Sierra and I both hid behind a wall inside the house. As Blake walked Nicole out to the backyard, I could already hear the happiness in Nicoles voice. The two walked through the sliding door and into the backyard. I pulled my ninja moves and weaseled my way into the backyard behind them without being spotted. (Although credit goes to Blake for keeping her distracted!). He let her look around at the photos, and even motioned toward me a few times as he was getting ready.
Finally, the moment came as he got down on one knee. I creeped out from my hiding spot and started taking pictures in plane view, about 15 feet back. I had probably snapped 10 photos before my cover was finally blown, but by then I had gotten what I needed. Meanwhile Sierra snapped pictures through the glass door from inside as she watched her best friend get engaged.
The GoPro video worked out to be a beautiful wide shot as well, and the pictures were very fun to take. I’m glad I could be a part of it all.