Cole & MackenzieBig Sur ProposalBig Sur, California

Cole and Mackenzie’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 guys pops the question, setting this up as a surprise photo shoot while you’re visiting the area is SO much more authentic. And the photos are a heck of a lot better too. Read on…

Whenever I’ve done this type of proposal shoot, the guy usually let his girlfriend know a day or two before so she could pick an outfit and get excited for it. I’ve also had some guys surprise their girlfriends 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 Cole and Mackenzie, 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 Cole that after about 15 minutes into the photo sesh, when we’re on that hill, that I’ll arrange them so Mack 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 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 its happening. It’s so much more intimate and genuine, rather than taking photos of that same moment 20 yards away.

Yes, your partner might get suspicious when we meet at the trailhead. Yes, she might be wondering for the first 10 minutes of the shoot if this is how you propose. But she will have suspicions no matter what you do, and will certainly have them when she sees some creepy weirdo following you guys around with a big camera. Thirty years from now, Cole and Mackenzie certainly won’t care if she suspected 10 minutes before he 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 love story. And that story starts with these.

To see the rest of their story, check out their wedding in San Diego here.