surprise proposal at the castle hill inn light house

Kishan’s Surprise Proposal to Rushali at the Castle Hill Lighthouse

surprise proposal at the castle hill inn light house

Kishan’s Surprise Proposal to Rushali at the Castle Hill Lighthouse

Like most of my clients, Kishan was from out of state (Michigan) and was planning a surprise proposal to his partner, Rushali, in Newport. From viewing the proposal photoshoots on my blog, he selected the Castle Hill Lighthouse as the spot, specifically to propose on the steps with the magnificent vista of the lighthouse, rocks, and Narragansett Bay with Newport’s Pell Bridge in the background.

It is a pretty impressive shot but not without pitfalls, but if you want something spectacular, you have to work for it. First, I must climb over the rocks, which is risky for me and my gear. After a couple of photoshoots at this location – because I love the shot – I invested in a Moneymaker camera harness by Hold Fast Gear, which permits me to carry two cameras while keeping them fully accessible as I scramble over the rocks. The last thing I want to see is a camera bouncing down the rocks toward the bay. I use two setups for this type of shoot; EOS 1DX MKII with a 24mm to 70mm f/2.8 lens for the wide angle shots and the other set up as an EOS 1DX with a 70mm to 200MM f/2.8 fitted with a 1.4 teleconverter to permit me to get close up pictures from a distance.

This visit would be Kishan’s first to Castle Hill, so my first task was to guide him to the spot. While we were on the phone discussing his proposal plans, I pulled up a drone video of Castle Hill to share with him, and I took a couple of screenshots and annotated them with arrows to show him where he would be proposing. And most importantly, bring a pair of sensible shoes for Rushali because the trail to the lighthouse is uneven and unsuitable for dress shoes with heels.

Drone videos are superb for describing a location to someone who has never visited that spot. My blog has a web page listing drone videos of the more popular surprise proposal locations.

The lighthouse is very popular, and because I will be shooting a landscape-type photograph, if there are any visitors to the lighthouse at the time of Kishan’s proposal, they will be in the pictures, which, from my perspective, is less than ideal. As I have said in these back stories many times, the problem with ‘peopley’ places is that they are ‘peopley’! If people were on the lighthouse when Kishan arrived, I asked that he stall until the site was clear. He was good with that.

In almost all surprise proposal photoshoots, if people were in our desired location, I would ask them to move when the couple arrived, but because I would be situated on the rocks, this would not be an option. I would keep my fingers crossed.

Kishan was confident that he could get to the location; game on!

On the day of the proposal, the weather would be chilly, especially with me on the rocks with the breeze of the water, but good nevertheless.

I reminded Kishan that I required a photo (so I could recognize them) and to share his GPS location to track them.

As I pulled out of my drive, I texted Kishan to let him know I was en route with an ETA of 4:30 pm for our 5:00 pm shoot; he confirmed his arrival at 4:00 pm, which my Nissan Frontier read out aloud to me. He was going to arrive before me, and I could do nothing. I pulled over to question his text, but his text was an error, and we were all set for 5:00 pm.

I pulled into the Castle Hill Inn’s parking lot; as I walked to the lighthouse, a couple and their dog walked towards me. I sked them how their day was going in passing.

The man replied, “She said yes.”

I smiled; it would be an evening of proposals.

I partially walked down the stairs to the lighthouse, and from there, I made my way onto the rocks and situated myself such that anyone looking towards me would not be able to see my equipment. I removed my cameras from my backpack, fastened them to my harness, took some test shots, and waited.

I watched their progress on GPS, and it was clear that they were going to arrive about 15 minutes early; excellent! However, there was a slight problem; many folks were milling around the lighthouse.

When Kishan and Rishali arrived, a stream of people was visiting the lighthouse. From my vantage point, I could do nothing about this (no crowd control), and as Kishan and I had discussed, he would need to stall; and stall; he did. But you can only delay for so long on a chilly day.

He waited until the lighthouse was clear but could not see the people in the background in my frame. I would have to work with this, and I could see a bunch of post-process editing with Photoshop in my future.

Kishan dropped to his knee, and as he did, as if on plan, the folks in the background moved out of the frame, and as they did so, I could see Rushali’s colossal smile from my viewpoint on the rocks via my telephoto lens..

“I love it when a plan comes together” ~ Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith (The ‘A’ Team)

Castle Hill Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse located on Castle Hill in Newport, Rhode Island. It was built in 1890 and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city. The lighthouse is a granite tower that is 34 feet tall and stands on a promontory overlooking Narragansett Bay. It was designed by the influential architect Henry Hobson Richardson, who was also responsible for Boston’s Trinity Church and Buffalo’s New York State Asylum.

he lighthouse was built on land that was formerly owned by the naturalist, oceanographer, and zoologist Alexander Agassiz of Harvard University. Agassiz sold the land to the United States Government for the lighthouse for $1. His mansion on the property, commissioned in 1874, is now an inn.

The lighthouse was first lit on May 1, 1890. It was originally equipped with a fifth-order Fresnel lens that produced a flashing red light. The light was automated in 1957 and the lens was replaced with a modern optic.

Castle Hill Lighthouse is an active aid to navigation for vessels entering the East Passage, between Conanicut Island and Aquidneck Island. It is also a popular tourist destination and a frequent site for wedding photos. The lighthouse is owned by the United States Coast Guard, but the property is owned by the nearby Castle Hill Inn.

In 1988, Castle Hill Lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It is a significant example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture and a reminder of the importance of lighthouses in the history of navigation.

Here are some interesting facts about Castle Hill Lighthouse:

  • The lighthouse was built on land that was formerly owned by Alexander Agassiz, a renowned naturalist and oceanographer.
  • The lighthouse was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson, one of the most influential architects of the 19th century.
  • The lighthouse is an active aid to navigation and is still used by ships today.
  • The lighthouse is a popular tourist destination and a frequent site for wedding photos.
  • The lighthouse is owned by the United States Coast Guard, but the property is owned by the nearby Castle Hill Inn.

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!