Planning a surprise proposal photoshoot

While engagement photoshoots have been popular for a while, proposal photoshoots - in which the proposal is captured on camera - are a rapidly growing phenomenon born of the social media age. And, not surprisingly, the Lake District in Cumbria is an increasingly popular place to propose.

Paparazzi style

A photographer can commissioned to photograph and/or video your proposal 'paparazzi' style without the intended even being aware of the photos being taken! While this makes for a truly secret photoshoot that doesn't intrude in the moment, it does rely on choosing a suitable location with good lighting and somewhere for the photographer to hide nearby that won't compromise the resulting photos too much. It also means your fiancee-to-be has little chance to choose their hair, makeup and clothing for the shoot.

To overcome these issues, if you like this approach, it's important to speak with your photographer about your chosen venue and determine the best spot for you to make your proposal. You might also plan to take your fiance-to-be to eat at an up-market restaurant after the proposal. That way they will be able to dress appropriately for the photos without knowing you plan to propose before getting there! As the actual proposal usually only takes a few minutes, you might consider revealing the subterfuge after the event and going on to have a short engagement photoshoot while you have the photographer with you - before you going on to celebrate.

Hiding in plain sight

A variation on the paparazzi approach is to have the photographer 'hide in plain sight'. In situations where there isn't anywhere suitable to hide away within site of your chosen spot to propose, it may be that your photographer can simply be in plain site pretending to be there for another reason - for example, as a tourist taking some photos of the setting. This can work really well somewhere like the Lake District where it isn't unusual to see landscape photographers taking photos. Once you begin to make your proposal, the photographer can then swing round to capture the moment. Although slightly more intrusive than the paparazzi approach, your partner probably won't even notice the photograph's being taken as they will be so focused on you! And, of course, as with the paparazzi approach, there's the option of an engagement photoshoot after the event.

Ask a stranger

Another approach is to have the photographer waiting at your chosen location and for you to ask them, as you might ask a stranger, to take your photo before going down on one knee to propose to your intended. This can work well where there is nowhere suitable for the photographer to hide and space is too limited for photos to be taken from a distance. Being up close, has the advantage of allowing the photographer greater control over composition and lighting than the previous approaches, but also shares some of the disadvantages of the paparazzi and hiding-in-plain-sight approaches, while being more intrusive in the moment. Once again, you can consider going on to have an engagement shoot after the proposal.


Finally, the approach taken in the video slideshow below with Matthew and Robyn, flips things on their head by having the photoshoot first before finishing with the proposal. In this case, Robyn knew she would be having a photoshoot and where it would be, thus allowing her to dress as she wanted for it. It also gave both Matthew and Robyn time to relax and to get used to being photographed before the actual proposal moment. In this case we had full control over the composition and lighting, and could be really close as Matthew proposed, leading to the best shots possible. Finally, after breaking open the champagne to celebrate, we were able to leave the happy couple to enjoy the moment and the rest of their day together without the need for an additional engagement photoshoot!

While it may not be for everyone, a proposal photoshoot does allow you to capture a very special moment to share with family and friends and keep forever. Alternatively, why not book an engagement photoshoot and return to the location where you proposed to get the shots you missed!

A Secret Proposal in the Lake District

The story of Matthew's surprise proposal to Robyn during a Lake District photoshoot at Orrest Head near Windermere in the Lake District.