4 Tips for the Perfect Secret Proposal Photography Plan

Our favorite tips to planning a secret proposal photography session!

Are you a photographer planning to capture a proposal? Or are you thinking about hiring a photographer to capture that moment you bend down on one knee? Planning a proposal is difficult enough, but the logistics of adding a secret photographer to capture the moment can be tricky. Having a solid plan ensures the moment won’t be missed. Here are four tips and tricks to the perfect proposal photography plan:

Tip 1: Get Hyper-Specific On the Location
Choosing a backdrop that’s beautiful is important, but be hyper-specific and pinpoint the location. I sometimes will create an “X-marks-the-spot” map for the person planning to propose, showing where I recommend they stand/face, and from where I plan to shoot. Knowing which way the couple will face each other helps too. This ensures the photographer can capture the right angles — we want to see both of your faces!

Secondary Tip: Know the general photography policy for the location you’re choosing! Public space like a park? You’re probably fine to go anywhere. Privately-owned rooftop bar? Get it cleared in advance with a manager. Some venues, like the Como Conservatory, even have proposal rental packages!

North Shore Minnesota Proposal at Two Harbors

Tip 2: Plan Micro-Flexible Timing
If the proposal is a surprise, it can be difficult to expect the shoot to occur exactly on-time and add stress to the planning. When I photograph proposals, I arrive about 10-15 minutes early, and expect the couple to arrive anywhere from 10 minutes early to 10 minutes after our agreed upon time. This takes the stress of being exactly on time off of the person planning.

Same-sex proposal photography in Downtown Minneapolis.

Tip 3: Hide? Or Hide in Plain Sight?
Often times, the photography part of a proposal is meant to be a complete surprise to the person being proposed to (until after the proposal, anyway). Photography equipment isn’t exactly subtle — zoom lenses in particular. Attempting to hide also poses the risk of drawing more attention to yourself. There’s no point in hiding behind a bush or a tree if there’s even the slightest risk of being noticed. In very public places, I’ll hide in plain sight (such as pretending I’m a passerby, or someone waiting on a bench). In private spaces, or areas where there aren’t people around, I’ll actually hide (in my car, and once behind the bar for 20 minutes).

Night proposal photography in Minneapolis, MN

Tip 4: Exchange Selfies With the Photographer
This might sound weird, but make sure you both know who to look for! As the photographer, I’ll tell the planner in advance what I’m wearing. If you’re the planner, send a photo of you and your significant other to the photographer, or even a text message of what you’re wearing that day. This is very helpful, particularly in public spaces — knowing who to look for will help a lot.

Bonus Tip: Breathe. You Got This.
Seriously. Everyone gets nervous, but if you communicate with each other and have a solid plan, you’ll be okay. After the proposal, take a handful of portraits together to complete the memory and preserve those moments!

Planning to propose? Looking for a proposal photographer? I’d love to chat!

Rachel Lahlum is an award-winning Minneapolis wedding, engagement, and proposal photographer with experience in hundreds of sessions. She takes a guided approach towards working with couples, from helping with planning and scheduling, to guiding with poses and prompts during the session. Her photography is crisp, clean and bright, with true-to-life colors and a mix of traditional poses and candid moments.