5 Expert Tips to Photograph a Surprise Proposal

1 November 2020

Marriage proposals are one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking times in your life. It’s a moment that will provide a story you will be retelling time and time again. Capturing the moment can help you relive your story over and over again, so why not take photographs of your proposal?

Here are five tips on how to photograph a proposal.

1. Use the right camera equipment

No pressure, but you only get one chance to capture your perfect proposal moment - you won’t be able to reshoot! You need to have your camera gear in position and ready to fire for the exact time that the proposal takes place, and you need the right tools for the job. 

Mirrorless cameras or digital SLRs are our top choice for photographing your proposal, due to their exceptional image quality in varying lighting conditions, as well as their compatibility with a wide range of lenses and accessories

But if you decide to stick with what you know and use your smartphone for engagement photography, the good news is you can still make use of accessories to capture great proposal shots.

5 Expert Tips to Photograph a Surprise Proposal5 Expert Tips to Photograph a Surprise Proposal

Whatever type of camera you choose to use, you’re going to need some of the following accessories to help you with how to photograph a proposal:

  • Tripod: Your tripod can be used to position your camera and frame your shot before the event takes place. A tripod can help to eliminate blur, no matter what lighting conditions you are dealing with. Using a tripod will also help you lock in your framing, knowing it will not shift at all and cut out important details. 
    Remote control: With a remote control held in your hand discreetly, you can fire the shutter of your camera at the perfect time without it being obvious that you are the one that captured the photograph. More advanced users may consider using an interval timer that can capture numerous photos in a sequence. 

Your phone can also act as a remote control with certain cameras. You’ll be able to check the framing to make sure you’ve got it just right, and discreetly trigger the shot or timer.

2. Choose the right location

5 Expert Tips to Photograph a Surprise Proposal5 Expert Tips to Photograph a Surprise Proposal

Whether it is a place that the two of you have been before and holds special significance, or it’s a romantic destination that you have dreamed about going to together, the location of your proposal is important. 

You should choose a location that will always be remembered and that you can revisit in years to come to relive the magic. Choosing a picturesque location will also help to capture the best proposal photographs. When you have decided on your location, you can pinpoint a specific spot where you’ll propose, so you can start organising the photography side of the event accordingly. 

Be sure to take some test shots, so that you can visualise what your finished photographs will look like, and so that nothing is left to chance on the big day. With the right planning, your surprise proposal photoshoot will produce some amazing proposal photos.

3. Plan the right time of the day

There are a few things to think about when planning the right time to drop the question. We are not talking about the right time in your relationship (that’s up to you!), we are talking about the right time of the day.  

Whether you want lots of foot traffic, or you would prefer some privacy when you pop the question, be sure to research busy times and days at your chosen location. When selecting the right time for your proposal, you should also consider how the lighting will affect your photographs. 

Proposing late at night may seem romantic, but it can be tricky to capture detailed and clear photographs when relying solely on street lighting. If possible, try to plan the event around the beautiful light provided by the golden hour. Pay special attention to the position of the sun at your chosen time of the day, so you know where to position your camera to get the best shots. Shooting directly into the sun will produce a silhouette, which can be used to stunning effect, but it may not be the look you are going for with your proposal photos.

5 Expert Tips to Photograph a Surprise Proposal5 Expert Tips to Photograph a Surprise Proposal

4. Take plenty of photos

5 Expert Tips to Photograph a Surprise Proposal5 Expert Tips to Photograph a Surprise Proposal

The great thing about digital photography is that your memory card has a lot more space to store photos compared to a roll of film! 

While taking more photos doesn’t necessarily mean you will have a higher success rate, it is still a good idea to keep shooting for a longer period, even if you think you already have a keeper. By shooting more photos than you think is necessary, you are protected from any unprecedented issues that may have ruined your shot, such as someone walking into the frame or someone blinking. You also leave the door open for producing more creative works when it comes to printing, such as a series of prints or even a photo book that showcases the entire event.

5. Make sure your camera settings are perfect

When you’re taking your own proposal photos, you need to make sure your camera is set up ready to shoot remotely. A proposal is a life changing moment, and if you want to learn how to photograph a proposal, you’ll need to work on your camera settings. 

Some key settings to take into account before you leave your camera to take centre stage include:

  • ISO: This setting will differ depending on how darkly lit your shot is. Keep in mind, a higher ISO results in noisier images, but is sometimes necessary to raise this setting a bit to provide a fast enough shutter speed.
5 Expert Tips to Photograph a Surprise Proposal5 Expert Tips to Photograph a Surprise Proposal
  • Shutter speed: With your camera set on a tripod and movement minimal, we recommend a minimum shutter speed of 1/60th of a second.
  • Aperture: This depends on how much of the image you want in focus. As you will not be able to fine-tune your focus precisely, a moderate aperture of f5.6-11 is a safer option, as it means more of your image will be in focus.
  • Manual focus: As you won’t be behind your camera to take the shot, you do not want to rely on autofocus. Instead, use a prop or another person to stand where you and your partner will be standing, focus on them manually and leave your lens at this setting.

Capture the moment they say yes

While there’s a lot at stake for your engagement photography and the proposal itself, with some practice and confidence you can capture some beautiful memories of this special moment. 

At Ted’s Cameras, we’ve got everything you need to pull off the perfect proposal photos. After it’s happened, you can look at ways to print your photos at home and relive the moment over and over again. 

Find your nearest store and pick up everything you need to capture your proposal moment.

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