She Said Yes - Surprise Proposal Photography
I received an intriguing text early in the month of November; a gentleman named Vinod messaged me with a photography request that I just couldn't refuse! He was coming over from Australia to the Lake District to spend a few days with his girlfriend and planned to 'pop the question' when he was here. He wanted a photographer based in Cumbria who could capture the moment secretly and then take some photographs afterwards and asked if I would be willing to help. Delighted but naturally slightly apprehensive (having explained that I'd never done this sort of thing before), I willingly accepted. Thankfully I did as I now feel so incredibly privileged to be part of such a romantic gesture.
In the lead up to the day itself, Vinod would text me at random times when he could steal a moment to himself. His plans were to propose at the top of Orrest Head in Windermere on a Saturday. I felt it my duty to warn him that this was one of the most popular beauty spots in the area and that there wasn't much scope for a photographer to go unnoticed. After a little deliberation, a suggestion was made that Miller Ground might be a better choice and once he did some research, he amicably agreed.
The whole organisation process was incredibly captivating. On the day, I received a call from Vinod who had quietly slipped away to the bathroom so that he could secretly update me on the plan and coordinate a time and place. We agreed that they would arrive at 2.30 pm, leaving me half an hour to get there first and scope out the area. I decided that it would be good if he could stretch out his arms before going down on one knee; thus giving the signal that he's about to make his move!
Setting the Stage
Armed with the knowledge that Vinod was of Indian descent, wearing a blue coat with red shoes and would be accompanied by his girlfriend in a grey hat, I set off to the location. Arriving at Miller Ground, I anxiously looked around for the best place I could hide that would give me a nice backdrop - knowing that I would be shooting at the long end of a 200mm lens in order to stay out of sight.
I initially crouched down by the lake, half-hidden by some trees when a lady gestured hello as she walked past. Feeling this wasn't hidden enough, I moved to an area behind the boathouse that overlooked the jetty. As I lay down in a pile of autumn leaves, behind an old wooden fence and in between two trees with my back against a stone wall I nervously waited. Desperately trying not to make a sound, I peered through a gap in the wooden fence. Several people walked past within talking distance and we're totally unaware of my presence - I didn't dare move for fear of being spotted and having to explain, but I knew, this was the place!
The stage was set, I sent the message that I was in position. I received a text back saying '5 minutes' and my heart began to race in anticipation. Moments later, the jetty filled with people who proceeded to tinker about with the boat that was tied to it. Two Asian voices could be heard approaching from the left and it was then that I caught a glimpse of my subjects for the very first time. As they hovered around the jetty, Vinod messaged me to say he would wait for the people to leave. My phone let out a loud 'ping' noise as it was received and I quickly reached to silence it. Suddenly it felt all the more real!
Vinod and Vassundrah left the jetty and walked right by me, he was obviously looking for my hiding place and then he found it. We made eye contact and both simultaneously did that thing where your eyes widen and you arch your eyebrows in a secret attempt to say hello. She walked by totally unaware. Phew! I was nervous!
What felt like an eternity finally passed by. Then through my obscured gap in the fence, I could make out the figure of Vinod walking towards the people tinkering with the boat. After a few gestures and possibly a few words it appeared that Vinod had made the men tinkering with the boat aware of his plans too. He must've figured an intervention was needed and sure enough, they all boarded the boat, started the engine and made off across the lake. Game on!
I watched as he anticipated the perfect moment; I felt his nerves and after several false starts Vassundrah walked away. Windswept, Vinod followed with his head in his hands. Then nothing! I was left wondering. Did she say no? Do I reveal myself or do I just wait? I lay patiently as what seemed like another eternity passed by. I really wanted to photograph this secret proposal!
Relief soon followed as the couple walked back onto the jetty and into view once more. I put two and two together as I realised that this time they were wearing their coats. What follows is what happened from there on, in pictures.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my adventures as a secret engagement proposal photographer here in the Lake District. Since this time, I have completed several secret proposal photoshoots and I have become a natural at it!