December 13, 2023  •  8min read

How to Shoot a Wedding Proposal Properly

how to shoot a wedding proposal properly

Surprise proposals seem stressful for everyone, especially the groom and photographers. For photographers, you must ensure that nothing goes wrong as you are responsible for capturing the moment. 

But once you’re asked to help shoot a proposal, you may love them even more than other kinds of photography! If you love to see people happy, then it doesn’t get better than a proposal photoshoot. Indeed, the stakes can be quite high, but being part of someone’s special moment is an incredible experience and is totally worth your time. 

Becoming a Proposal Planner and Photographer

Proposals and photos have become a big deal, as everyone wants to share that picture-perfect and Instagrammable proposal shot with everyone they know. 

As a photographer, this means you’ll be carrying a massive amount of expectation and pressure to capture the proposal shoot. Because of this, it makes sense that people expect wedding proposal photographers to be some kind of unofficial proposal planner. After all, we know what should look good, what angle to shoot from, and where the best spots are. Right?

There are plenty of proposal planning resources for photographers available online. But in this article, we want to look at the specific ways to improve your proposal photography skills (and avoid some common pitfalls).

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Get to the Location Early

There are two reasons why getting to the location early is essential:

1. You Need to be There Before the Couple

Nothing is worse than arriving late to a proposal, especially if you’re supposed to be hiding somewhere. Your client might think you’re hiding somewhere in the bushes and could easily proceed with the proposal. 

Clients who seem meticulous and well-planned will likely be there extra early. So to avoid any stress, we recommend arriving an hour earlier. This may seem overkill, but most of the time, it will pay off. 

2. You Must Claim Your Location Before Anyone Else

This specifically applies to tourist areas like a beach or waterfall. Imagine having your photoshoot on the perfect spot for the proposal with someone else standing in the background when your clients arrive.

Get there early and stake your claim with a tripod. And when the couple arrives, you can move the tripod if you’ve found a better location for the photoshoot. 

Scout the Location in Advance with the Same Conditions

It’s important to scout the area, but it’s essential to visit it within the same week to get the lighting you’ll have during the photoshoot. 

We like to shoot during sunset or sunrise as there are a few hours of window time with the best lighting that makes for perfect shots. But sunset and sunrise change every day, and what usually works in summer might look different in the spring. 

Besides that, you can also see the crowd levels at the proposed time. Scouting the location’s conditions as close to the date as possible will give you the best chance to shoot in the perfect lighting. 

You Might Lose Contact with Your Client 

Your clients will likely have their hands full and won’t be there to talk to you all day, especially if you’re texting them at 4 am before the wedding proposal shoot.

You should get everything planned before the shoot so you do not need to change any hands-on information on the day (except for emergency changes). 

It’s best if you already know what they’ll wear, where they’ll be, and every other detail, and you should do any intensive communication. Your client should already understand clearly what they need to do, how they will propose, and the signals you’ll use to communicate before setting off in the morning. 

Hide in Plain Sight

When shooting a proposal and making the sneaky paparazzi approach, we recommend hiding in plain sight instead of being a creepy photographer sneaking around in the bushes.

This can be hard if you’re the partner’s friend, but if they do not know you, you can stand close enough, and they’ll never suspect anything. They’ll assume you’re there to take photos as long as you act normally. 

You can take things a step further by wearing a bright jacket. This way, if your client is anywhere in the area, it’s impossible to miss you. This works like a charm, especially if you’re proposing somewhere super busy!

Agree to a Signal 

The signal for the proposal is one of the most critical parts of the proposal photoshoot puzzle.

There’s plenty of walking here and there during proposals. They’ll wander around while the guy builds up his courage. This is why having some kind of signal is important to let you know it’s about to happen and that you must get ready. 

It’s a bit tricky if you’re hiding in the bushes. We usually tell the guy to take a selfie or hug his lady to let us know that they are ready. This way, you’ll have a clear sign and a few seconds to get prepared.

Proposals happen very quickly, so this is a great way to prepare yourself for the couple’s big moment. 

Choose the Right Lens

We personally like to use a 70-200mm lens for proposals to shoot from a distance. It’s the perfect lens for zooming in and capturing close-ups of reactions and full-body shots. 

If you’re only using one camera, stick with a telephoto lens and capture the raw emotions and reactions of the partner in close-up, and don’t worry about the wider stuff. It’s better to capture everything with one kind of lens instead of missing something important when you switch cameras. 

Once the moment has passed, introduce yourself to the bride, who will likely be filled with emotions and adrenaline. So make sure to speak clearly and explain that her man hired you to capture the big moment. Then, you can recreate any angles you didn’t catch with your wider lens. 

These are our top tips and tricks that we found useful when we first started. So, we hope we have helped you too!

Guntur author at Bali Wedding
Guntur has been writing tips and tricks for weddings in Bali since 2020. He has written everything from preparing a pre-wedding in Bali to the best wedding dress and makeup you should choose for a wedding in paradise.

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