Back in August of 2020, I got a text message from my dear friend Savannah asking if I could photograph a surprise proposal for her boyfriend’s cousin, Edgar. It was going to be their present for the couple who has been together for 9 years. Happy to help my dear friend and excited to photograph a proposal, I happily accepted the offer!
Soon enough, I got in contact with Edgar and I asked him if he already had an idea or a plan in mind. Having been together for 9 years, the talk of marriage has popped up quite often. Especially when they had just bought their first house the year prior. Edgar told me that he plans to take her out for brunch somewhere Downtown of Chicago and then take her on a picnic since she’s mentioned it before. He just needed help with a location since they are not familiar with Chicago at all.
Edgar wanted something that screamed Chicago, but also a great place for a chill picnic. Looking for secluded parks with the Chicago Skyline during a pandemic was a bit challenging, because most parks and the lakefront were closed off to the public due to the City’s lockdown protocol. Luckily, one of my favorite parks was open, and not a lot of people go there or even know about it. I suggested Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chinatown. It was a perfect, quiet place for a picnic and for a walk with a skyline view for post-proposal photos. Edgar loved the suggestion and we set up a time to meet at the location few days before his proposal.
We met after I got off work during the week, and we went through the park, deciding which place and all the schematics of the proposal. I told him that I can hide at a distance and I can use my telephoto lens so Yasmin would not suspect a thing.
After scouting the park, Edgar and I decided that they can set up their picnic stuff by these rocks pictured above. I did let him know that since we scouted the place after work, around 5pm, the sunlight will be different and it may or may not alter our plans day of. Pictured above is during the proposal day. I had my best friend, Julia, stand by the spot so I can see how far I can go to hide while using my telephoto (75-210mm) lens.
Edgar told me that he plans to take Yasmin to the park for their picnic around 1pm, depending on what time they finish brunch. We kept in touch through text and he told me what they were wearing so I can easily spot them. Julia and I didn’t really hide. We set up our own picnic area, ready to “sun bathe and read a book” so we don’t look suspicious.
I got a text from Edgar that they just parked and so I started setting up my tripods for both cameras, hidden behind branches. I figured I just looked like a hobbyist photographer taking photos of nature and birds.
When Edgar and Yasmin arrived, they set up their picnic stuff by the location we agreed on, HOWEVER, it was too hot and Yasmin wanted to move. I could tell by Edgar’s body language that he didn’t know what to do, it was not part of the plan. So I just quickly texted him to let her pick a spot and I will adjust accordingly. So he did.
Yasmin ended up picking a spot that was under a tree, past a small hill, which made their visibility from me difficult. So I have to adjust my set up. I quickly confirmed with Edgar that I’m adjusted so he knows that he can make his next moves. The cue that he told me when he’s about to ask her is that he will grab her DSLR camera, and take a photo of her.
Within 15 minutes of settling down, Edgar took Yasmin’s photo with her camera, and I kept my finger on the shutter release. Then he took Yasmin to stand, and got down on his knees. As you can see here, since they were at the bottom of a small hill, under a tree, my visual of them was obstructed, but I moved quickly to get a better angle of the proposal. It was happening so fast so I know I have to move faster and keep shooting so I won’t miss a single moment.
After that, Edgar looked at my direction, revealing to Yasmin about my cover. I went closer to congratulate the two and confess that I’ve been a paparazzi from the moment they stepped into the park.
Yasmin then Facetimed her mom, so emotional that she was crying with joy. Prior to the proposal, Edgar told me that he already asked her parents and few members of their families about the proposal.
We then walked around the park to get some engagement photos.
It was such an honor photographing a huge milestone for these two lovers.
If you’re reading this and are planning to ask your boo’s hand for marriage, let me know! I’m here to help plan and capture the moment for you to look back to years from now!