Micheal and Suzy, traveling from out-of-state, planned a winter weekend in the ‘City by the Sea’ (Newport, Rhode Island); and Micheal had plans to make it forever memorable with a ‘surprise’ marriage proposal. He asked me to photograph his proposal, and together we set about hatching a plan. I suggested a few suitable locations, but with their hotel being close to The Cliff Walk, proposing on the walk along Newport’s eastern shore made sense!

Photographing surprise proposals are a lot of fun but can be logistically challenging. We agreed that the proposal would occur at 3 p.m. on a cold and breezy February afternoon. There is limited parking at The Cliff Walk, and I figured that it would not be too busy, and I was utterly wrong; it was bustling. As I always do, I arrived early and snagged one of the few parking spots at 2:15 p.m.

Earlier in the day, Micheal had sent me a photo of Suzy to assist me in their identification because I had not met either of them before. So I could be easily identified from a distance, I wore a blaze orange parka. I sent Micheal a text when I left my home in Richmond to let him know I was en route and another when I was parked in place.

I got wrapped up for the cold weather, put on my backpack, and carried two cameras:

  • Canon EOS 1DX with a 70mm-200mm f/2.8 which would permit me to shoot the proposal in a clandestine fashion
  • Canon EOS 1d Mk IV with an 85mm f.1.2 for post-proposal portraits

Each camera had a Canon 580 EX II Speedlite and a Gary Fong diffuser.

The Cliff Walk is very narrow with no place to hide, and so I do what I always do in situations like this: hide in plain sight.

Michael notified me via text that they had arrived. I immediately pointed the camera, with the long lens, at the Common Merganser Ducks swimming below me; however, my left eye watched every person walking towards me, and there were many. To make matters worse, every person walking was wearing a mask! Eventually, I saw my couple, and you can enjoy the results below.

Suzy was not only completely surprised with Michael’s proposal, but she had no idea of my presence, even with my blaze orange parka!

History of Cliff Walk

The Cliff Walk is a 3.5-mile long path that winds along the coast of Newport, Rhode Island. The walk offers stunning views of the ocean and the mansions, and it is a popular spot for walking, hiking, and biking.

The Cliff Walk was designated a National Recreation Trail in 1978, and it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Newport.

The history of the Cliff Walk dates back to the 17th century, when Narragansett Indians used the path to access the shoreline. In the 18th century, the path was used by farmers to access their land.

In the 19th century, the Cliff Walk became a popular spot for wealthy residents of Newport to build summer homes. The mansions were built on the cliffs, and the path provided a way for residents to access the ocean.

The Cliff Walk was not officially developed until the late 19th century. In 1880, the Newport Casino was built, and the path was extended to the casino. In the early 1900s, the path was further developed, and it became a popular tourist destination.

The Cliff Walk has been damaged by storms and hurricanes several times over the years. In 1938, the New England Hurricane caused extensive damage to the path. The path was repaired, but it was further damaged by Hurricane Carol in 1954.

The Cliff Walk has been restored several times over the years. In the 1970s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent two years doing repairs. In 1993 and 1994, $3.4 million was spent on new retaining walls. Hurricane Bob caused damage in 1991.

The Cliff Walk is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. The walk offers stunning views of the ocean and the mansions, and it is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

Here are some of the key events in the history of the Cliff Walk:

  • 17th century: Narragansett Indians use the path to access the shoreline.
  • 18th century: Farmers use the path to access their land.
  • 19th century: Wealthy residents of Newport build summer homes on the cliffs.
  • 1880: The Newport Casino is built, and the path is extended to the casino.
  • Early 1900s: The path is further developed, and it becomes a popular tourist destination.
  • 1938: The New England Hurricane causes extensive damage to the path.
  • 1954: Hurricane Carol causes further damage to the path.
  • 1970s: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spends two years doing repairs.
  • 1993 and 1994: $3.4 million is spent on new retaining walls.
  • 1991: Hurricane Bob causes damage.

The Cliff Walk is a valuable asset to the city of Newport, and it is sure to continue to be a popular tourist destination for many years to come.