Aren and his soon-to-be fiance are from Maryland, and when he first reached out to me, he did not have a fixed location for the proposal in mind. After reviewing the article “Where to propose in Rhode Island,” he narrowed it down to a few places, and we discussed each, but the winner was Newport’s Cliff Walk.
I am a bit nervous about using Cliff walk for surprise proposals because there is limited parking and when I shoot a marriage proposal, I have to guarantee that ‘I’ will be there on time. I discussed my concerns with Aren, and we decided to proceed. However, there was a fly-in-the-ointment; a 20′ section of the Cliff walk collapsed in March 2022.
In reviewing the City of Newport website to determine the status of the Cliff Walk, it has only been closed for one city block. With an easy detour around the collapse.
Aren picked a spot on the Cliff Walk beside the Breakers Mansion.
On the day of the proposal, it was beautiful with blue skies and 76 degrees at my home in Richmond, Rhode Island. I dressed for the weather; it would be a good day.
To permit Aren and me to keep track of each others progress, and because we both use iPhones, we shared each other’s location. I find this to be invaluable when I am waiting to photograph a couple I have never met, and it allows me to be prepared for their arrival. I also asked that Aren send me a selfie with Lauren to permit me to recognize them at a distance.
I sent Aren a text as I was rolling out of my drive and again when I was parked in Narragansett Avenue and informed him that there was plenty of parking. I checked his location; he was still in Newport.
When I stepped out of my truck, the temperature had dropped to 59 degrees, and it was very foggy. This often happens at this time of year as the water temps are still cold in the 40s.
I opted to walk to the Breakers on city streets for speed, and when I arrived at the access point, there was zero visibility. There was so much moisture in the air that it felt like rain on my arms. This much moisture ruled out the use of a strobe because the light would reflect off the water droplets. I took a couple of test shots at the location, and it was a challenge getting the exposure correct against a white backdrop but I was ready!
Aren set me several progress texts, but I did not need them because I tracked his progress via GPS.
Even in the fog, Cliff Walk was busy with many taking photos in Aren’s designated spot! All I could do was hope that it would be clear when Aren and Lauren arrived.
I keep my primary camera and lens (Canon EOS 1DX and an EF 70mm -200mm f/2.8 lens) in a sports bag, preset and ready to go. The remainder of my camera gear is in a Manfrotto backpack. In this way, I am just a guy with a bag. When I could physically see them, I walked south of the spot (they were coming from the north). I timed it, so I arrived at the spot just a little behind them. I position myself to take in the view – what view?
Aren turned his head to look at me; this was it. I never pull my camera out until I see the knee go down. I waited…
I pulled out my camera and captured the proposal at the right moment. Lauren was both surprised and delighted. Excellent work, Aren.
Their choice of pastel-colored shirts was perfect for the foggy conditions.
With typical weather, I would have conducted the mini-engagement shoot on the Cliff Walk, but with the thick fog, I suggested that we walk down Ruggles Avenue, which borders the Breakers Mansion, in the hope that the fog would be less dense, which it was.
The foggy conditions added a beautiful element to Aren and Lauren’s portraits.
If you would like to learn more about surprise proposal photoshoots, pop-over to the Proposal/Engagement web page for details on pricing and lots of information for planning the perfect surprise proposal.
After photographing many, many, surprise proposals…
Never do anything different. A behaviour change will give the game away!