January 23, 2024

How To: Big Sur Proposal Session

Tyler and Nazanin’s Big Sur proposal was exactly the way a proposal shoot should be. Rather than be awkward and pretend to be a tourist, creepily following the couple around until the someone asks the question, setting this up as a surprise photo shoot while you’re visiting the area is the way to go. Read on…

Whenever I’ve done this type of proposal shoot, one partner usually lets the other know a day or two before so they can pick an outfit and get excited for it. I’ve also had some surprise their partner with the shoot when we meet in the parking lot or trailhead for the first time. Either way is awesome.

So… we’re doing this thing… how do you know when to ask? We can figure all that out ahead of time, and a lot of that depends on where we’re doing the shoot/proposal. For Tyler and Nazanin, he wanted to do it on the top of this little hill in Big Sur. So we roamed around the trails nearby, taking photos while working our way up that direction. I told Tyler that after about 15 minutes into the photo sesh, when we’re on that hill, that I’ll arrange them so Nazanin is standing a little in front of him and looking at me – and that’ll be his queue to get the ring out.

I’ve photographed Big Sur proposals in almost every way imaginable. Pretending to be a tourist on a beach… hiding in a bush… pretending to be a guy walking by who happens to have a nice camera and gets “randomly” asked to take a photo of them… In my opinion, this method of taking proposal photos is so much better since I’m right beside you guys in the moment while it’s happening. It’s so much more intimate and genuine, rather than taking photos of that same moment 100 yards away.

Yes, your partner might get suspicious when we meet at the trailhead. Yes, they might be wondering for the first 10 minutes of the shoot if this is how you propose. But they will have suspicions no matter what you do, and will certainly have them when they see some creepy photog following you guys around with a big camera. Thirty years from now, Tyler and Nazanin certainly won’t care if Nazanin suspected 10 minutes before Tyler proposed that this might be that moment. The point is, she’ll have her suspicions either way, but at the end of the day you’ll have way better photos to look back on – and that’s the most important part.

OK, OK, end of the rant. I just want couples to have awesome photos of their little love story. And that story starts with these.

And if you want to see all the photos from this shoot instead of just some of my favs, feel free to check them out here.

Lastly, if you’re wondering what time of year to propose (or elope) in Big Sur, I wrote this Big Sur elopement guide you can check out too.