“So Sam….I’ve got this idea.”
“You bought a ring didnt you.”
And that is how my friend Steven pitched the idea for how he would propose to his girlfriend (now fianceé) Kristine.
About a month ago, Steven and I planned out the entire operation (you just read the introduction to it). He mentioned how she wanted it to have someone taking pictures secretly and she wanted it to be a total surprise. I asked if he had a location in mind. He said somewhere outdoors, possibly Balls Falls Conservation area. We decided to do it there during an afternoon. He would plan it as an outing for the two of them to take new pictures for her website (she is a photographer too) and during that time I would be hiding somewhere taking photos as he would propose.
I hadn’t been to Balls Falls in a very long time but remembered it had heavily wooded areas and that would hopefully make it easier for me to hide. I would use my telephoto zoom lens to allow me to be further away yet still get in close for photos.
The day finally came and Steven enacted his master plan. He booked Kristine a hair appointment knowing that it would take up most of her morning, while we prepared secretly for the afternoon. Steven and I let ourselves into her place and he made her a lunch with notes telling her where to meet him, and he had all her camera equipment ready in his car. We then drove to Balls Falls and began to look for the perfect area. The weather was perfect for what we were planning to do. It was completely cloudy, no sky visible at all, which would give really great soft lighting.
On the way over I told Steve that I had borrowed a military friend’s camouflage suit and would use it if we could find an area with lots of trees. We decided on a historical area within the park that had a large barn and a few spruce trees. I changed into the suit (now looking like a tree myself, or Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy) and hid amongst the branches. Steve would bring her down the path to the barn, then he would have her stand in front of the barn and take her picture. She wouldnt be able to see the tree I was hiding in then, so I would be able to step on some lower branches to open up a wider area for me to shoot through when she came back towards him. This is important because if she saw the tree move when I did this, she would probably figure out what was going on (or be freaked out that a tree just moved on it’s own). As we discussed this, two people walked past us. Steve said hi. I remained motionless and didnt speak. When they were far enough away Steve said “Well those people think I talk to trees….Haha sweet.”
I Am Groot! Steve took this picture while we set up.
Steve received an alert on his phone. Kristine had arrived! He left me in the tree with my camera as he went to get her from the parking lot. As I now had about 10 minutes to myself before they would return, I thought I should take a selfie.
Camouflage Level: Solid Snake. Selfie Level: Super Operator. It is unfortunate I forgot my facepaint at home. To compensate I wrapped my face with extra material from the hat.
During my time in the tree I triple-checked my camera settings. This was going to be done live and as a surprise and there was absolutely no room to make mistakes. As I did this, a family walked down the path and past my tree. I froze. They continued on, completely oblivious that I was there. A few moments later a second family walked past, and again I wasnt spotted. It was so cool.
A few minutes later Steve and Kristine came down the path hand-in-hand. Time to go to work. I began to take pictures as they came towards the barn. Kristine looked right at me in the tree and didnt see me. Perfect. I kept shooting. They stopped and Steve told her to stand in front of the barn. She walked out of my area of vision and I opened up the tree braches as far as I could. Steve bent over to get to her camera bag. The ring was inside. He called her over and as he was down on one knee I saw her extend one hand. I saw the ring box come out of the bag, and only heard a “yes” before the hugging and kissing started. Then I heard Steve say “OK look over at that tree” and she was confused as to why. After a few moments they walked towards my tree and I was given the OK to come out. She was totally surprised that I was in there….and couldn’t believe what I was wearing! She even took MY picture.
like I said, nobody saw me!
After I explained to her the master plan Steven had come up with, we did some more posed photos in front of the barn and a “heart wall” that she liked, having visited the area many times.
Below is a gallery of our afternoon. Thanks for reading. Leave a comment.
@sam_cino | @cinofoto | cinofoto