“Hey, we may be, like, 5-10 later.”
I received Nathan’s text while wandering the campus of Indiana University, near the Sample Gates. I always try to arrive early to my sessions. It gives me time to scout the scene for good light and to photograph details and other story-telling elements for my clients. Why did I feel nervous? I mean, I’ve photographed over a hundred couples since starting my wedding photography business back in 2008. I’m fairly confident I can make this couple look great. And this is a location at which I photograph frequently. Home court advantage, as it were.
Oh, yeah. Now I remember. Nathan is going to propose to Rachelle today. In like, 5 or 10 minutes.
He contacted me through my website two days earlier, asking if I might be available to photograph his proposing to the girl of his dreams. They met at the Kelly School of Business at IU and graduated together last year. They now live in Chicago. (I just love the Chicago/Bloomington/IU connection.) Apparently, Nathan told Rachelle a little fib to get her down to Bloomington on this day….something about a reunion of some school mates. And he needed a co-conspirator. Me.
Nathan and I schemed that morning by phone. “I’m taking her to lunch at Finch’s. If you can be waiting near the Sample Gates, that would be great.” ”Not a problem,” I told him. And then I got to thinking, I hadn’t photographed a proposal before. I was both excited and nervous at the same time. What if I’m spotted? What if I give something away? What should I wear or do? Should I hide in the bushes? What if she says……you get the picture.
Finally, I just decided to play it like a tourist…there is always someone taking pictures near the Sample Gates. I didn’t think I’d stand out too much. So after about 30 minutes of personal shooting (photographs I end up giving to the client anyway), I saw Nathan and Rachelle walking up the street toward me (“I’ll be wearing a blue sweater.”).
I turned away from them so that she didn’t see my camera initially, then pretended to photograph a building nearby. I then turned around to find Nathan down on one knee and Rachelle with a grand look of surprise on her face. I brought my camera up and got to work…all the while trying not to start crying. It all happened very fast.
Clearly….both of them were supremely happy. It would have been hard to miss. Passersby started clapping and offering “Congratulations!” I grabbed a few more photographs then backed away to offer the newly engaged couple a bit of privacy. We finished up with a quick session with the couple and we were done. It was an experience I won’t soon forget. I felt a part of something very powerful…and I was honored and thrilled to be a part of their special day.
You can view the entire session and order prints here.