July 4th, I pondered for a while when Ajan asked if I could shoot his surprise proposal to Kirsten; would I be available? I looked at my schedule, and we had nothing planned, so I agreed to shoot their joyful moment on the Fourth of July.

As the days got closer, the realization that the logistics of moving around Newport and parking near Battery Park on July 4th would be problematic for both Ajan and me. Newport would be jam-packed with people in for the fireworks display, and now it did not seem like such a great idea. Furthermore, much rain was forecast for the 4th (Sunday) evening and all day Saturday. It was time to look at plan B. We moved the shoot to the 3rd. The proposal would happen after Ajan and Kirsten had dinner at Jo’s American Bistro on Saturday the 3rd, coincidentally the anniversary of when the couple met; this made sense! We needed a new location, somewhere within a short walking distance from the restaurant. A short distance was critical because rain, heavy at times, was forecast for most of Saturday. I was concerned that Kirsten might not want to walk in the rain, but Ajan knew his partner and said that would not be a problem.

I suggested Aquidneck Park as a possibility for the proposal; it is a pretty, well-manicured park that would be a 5 to 10-minute walk after dinner. Ajan considered this overnight, and the following day, we had a plan:

6’ish at Aquidneck Park, I would arrive 30 minutes early, identify a spot and send directions to Ajan.

Game on, time to charge my batteries. Four batteries, one for each camera and one spare each! I am a little OCD, and my operational strategy is dual-redundancy; I have two of everything when I go on a shoot.

I woke up Saturday morning, and it was continuous rain, as forecast, into the 7 pm hour. Fingers crossed.

weather forecast for today’s surprise proposal

I went for a gravel bike ride in the rain with my friends in the morning, and when I returned home, my wife was leaving, and I decided to swap vehicles giving my wife the truck, and I took the Impreza, a smaller car that would make parking easier in Newport. Mags informed me that her car was low on gas, and I said, “no problem, I would leave a little earlier.”

Good, I could have lunch and relax. Ajan sent me a photo of Kirsten and himself to help me recognize them, and we shared our concern via a chain of texts about the rain, which was coming down pretty heavily. I offered to move the shoot to the afternoon of the 4th because the weather was forecast to be nice, but Ajan had faith.

I assembled my cameras with their Gore-Tex Aquatech camera/lens covers – I was ready for the most inclement weather, but I did not want it to be so!

cameras with rain covers on

Ajan would send me a text at 4 pm to confirm whether or not the shoot would be happening today.

I was ready to go, and then all of a sudden, I realized that I had a car with no gas and that my wallet was in my truck, and I did not know where my truck was, shoot! This was not how I had planned my day!

I called Mags, and she told me that my truck was in a parking lot in Warwick (because she had a car-pooled with a friend.) Not a big deal, but it meant that I would have to drive 30 minutes north before traveling in the opposite direction. All of this while waiting on the go-ahead or not text from Ajan.

The text arrived, it was a go!

I left home, drove North, picked up my wallet, gassed the car, and headed to Newport in a torrential downpour. At 5:15 pm, the rain was very heavy ( see below.)

rain on the day of the surprise proposal
I was not feeling good about this.

I parked the car, not easy because there was very little parking available, and I walked to the park with the rain easing off for the first time in the last 24 hours.

When I arrived, I assessed the park for a suitable proposal spot; I took photos of the spot and sent the pictures and directions to Ajan.

Also, I was happy to report to Ajan that the rain had stopped, it was still dark and cloudy, but it was dry. Ajan shared his location with me using the Apple ‘Find Me’ app, but unfortunately that did not work, so I hid out of view and peered around a tree. Because I planned on using a long lens, my visibility of the arriving couple was not perfect because of the distance (and I have to keep my camera out of sight).

I looked out for my couple, a couple enjoying an after-dinner walk (with Ajan wearing a grey raincoat.)

With the rain stopping, many dogs owners came to the park to walk their pets; when I arrived, the park was empty, and now I had to deal with a variety of dogs appearing in the background. From my vantage point, hiding behind a tree, I saw a couple enter the park, but I discounted them as they were walking a dog. I went back to peering around the tree, watching for Ajan and Kirsten. Then suddenly, I got a sinking feeling, out of the corner of my eye, the couple with the dog looked like they were in the middle of a proposal. What are the chances and another couple proposing at the spot I selected? None, that’s what, this was my couple. The dog that completely threw me; I was looking for a couple out walking post-dinner…without a dog.

I pulled out my phone and looked at our text chain and the photo of Ajan and Kirsten and then looked at them through my 200mm lens; yep, this was my couple, ugh! When I introduced myself, Ajan was wearing a huge smile! I was very embarrassed, but so was Ajan when he realized that he had not told me about the dog.

When someone proposes to another person, they are very nervous, and sometimes ‘things’ are overlooked, in this case, the dog! Proposals are the happiest of times, and we did not let this faux pas get in the way of the joy of the moment.

It is complicated for the person proposing because they deal with anxiety and nerves, and then the photographer adds another complex layer of instructions and requests. It is not easy, far from it.

We enjoyed a mini-engagement shoot with smiles all around and redid the proposal, and Ajan and Kirsten’s smiles radiated around Aquidneck Park.

It was quite a day!