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.