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How to Nail Your Proposal Pictures: 10 Tips from a Proposal Photographer

If you’re looking to pop the question, why not remember the occasion forever with some beautiful proposal pictures? We speak to an expert photographer for their top tips on nailing the shot!

Man on one knee proposes to woman outside St Paul's cathedral

Man on one knee proposes to woman outside St Paul's cathedral

As we said in our guide to planning a proposal, getting a set of incredible proposal pictures is a huge trend right now in the world of popping the question. Getting engaged can be one of the most exciting and scary moments of your life so who wouldn't want that amazing 'YES!' moment captured on film?

Engagement proposal pictures are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. We all love a candid, and photographing an engagement, capturing you and your partners genuine reactions in one of the landmark moments of your relationship is as candid as it gets. 

Engagement and Proposal Pictures: Tips and Advice from a Proposal Photographer

Proposal pictures can help you to announce your engagement in a really sweet way and put less pressure on you to write the perfect engagement caption - who needs words when you have *that* proposal picture to share? They're also a perfect keepsake to look back on forever, basically...they are a brilliant idea.

Our guide gives you expert tips on how to get pictures of your proposal from an engagement photographer - the insight is so useful if you're someone who has always dreamed of capturing this super special moment.

10 Expert Tips on Nailing Your Proposal Pictures

A couple embrace on the banks of the Thames

How can you organise and implement your plan of capturing your surprise proposal? We spoke to wedding and engagement photographer Olly Knight Photography who has snapped plenty of proposals, engagements and weddings. 

Here, he shares his top tips including everything from planning the perfect time of day to propose, to picking the dream location. Keep reading for all of his expert proposal photographer advice...

1. Think About The Location

Where to pop the question is one of the most important things you should be asking yourself when you plan a proposal. It's very important to keep your partner's tastes and preferences in mind - an extrovert who enjoys being the life and soul of the party might love an outdoor proposal surrounded by other people.

However, for more introverted people, this may be their nightmare! Think about other options, like proposing indoors, or in a truly intimate setting like proposing in your own home. Whatever you decide on, this is a decision that is personal and unique to every couple. 

Olly advises, "If you're planning to propose think about a location that means a lot to you both as a couple or if you're on a trip together think of somewhere with a beautiful backdrop. It's also really important to make sure that photos are allowed to be taken at your location."

2. Be Mindful of the Time of Day

If you're planning to propose in a city location, it's important to consider how many people will be around at that time of day. Olly says, "Rush hour in London will mean that many people will be passing by and could potentially get in the way of any photos being taken by an engagement photographer. Often early morning or evening is chosen as a time as it's quieter."

The date itself is also an important factor. Some of the most popular proposal dates include on Christmas or Christmas Eve, or on a birthday or anniversary. Choosing a date that's special to you as a couple is a great way to make this milestone even more memorable. 

3. Get the Light Right

Man proposing to woman with tower bridge and the shard in the background

Speaking of timing, remember that natural lighting can be very different depending on the time of day and your location.

If you want your pictures to have a golden glow, aim for Instagram's favourite time of day, the 'golden hour' which takes place just before sunset. If you're proposing during the daytime, it's also important to think about where the sun will be in the sky - the last thing you want is your photographs ruined by over-exposure or squinting!

Olly says, "The nicest times of the day for light are an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset - the gorgeous golden hour. If you're proposing in a building then do it near a window to let in natural light and if you're proposing in the dark, do it near a source of light like a street lamp."

4. Make a Day of It

The day you get engaged is going to be one of the most memorable days of your life to look back on, so you may as well make the most of it - treat it like a romantic date. Go for a sweet activity like a long walk, boat ride or apple picking if it's around autumn time - any activity that gives you plenty of time to talk to each other will be the ideal lead up to popping the question. 

Planning an entire date day is always a clever way of getting your partner to wear appropriate clothes for a proposal shoot. Olly suggests, "Let your partner know you're going out on a date, perhaps for a meal, and dress up accordingly. You'll have the proposal photos forever so you want to be happy with what you both wore."

5. Work Out Your Position

a man places an engagement ring on the hand of a woman in the corridor of an old building

Positions and poses are of the utmost importance during a proposal photo shoot, as your photographer will want to capture the look of joy, amazement and surprise on your partner's face, with no interference from bad lighting and no obstacles in the way. 

Once you've decided on the location of your proposal, send all the details to your photographer so they can familiarise themselves with the setting and work out a plan with you. You should also discuss what you want the pictures to focus on, whether that's your partner's face, or proposal pictures with the ring. 

Olly also emphasises the importance of where you stand. He says, "Work out with your photographer where you'll stand to propose. Side on photos look great and capture the getting down on one knee moment (if you're doing that) and the reaction to the proposal! I often draw little doodles on Google maps of where the couple can stand and where I'll be.

"My tip would be to subtly check your photographer is there before you ask the question."

6. Communicate With Your Photographer

Putting your faith in someone to capture one of the biggest moments of your life is a pretty big deal. Proposal photographers are used to working in a range of different contexts with clients who have very different tastes. It's important to chat and get to know them so that they can help you to realise your unique vision - wedding photographers may be great, but they're not mind readers!

Here are Olly's tips: "Do chat with the photographer you choose to capture the proposal in the run up to the day. Have them on Whatsapp or speed dial so you can ring or message them if you're delayed or early. You might need to pretend they are a work mate or a school friend in front of your partner."

7. Embrace Your Nerves

Nerves are a tricky thing to deal with, but they're also completely natural. This is a big moment and one that you're going to remember for years to come, so it's understandable to be nervous. By recognising and embracing this feeling, you won't let it take away from your big moment. 

Olly agrees "I remember when I proposed to my now wife Kirsty in Venice, I was feeling huge nerves all day. These are natural as it's a huge life changing question to ask, so embrace them - they'll go once you hear the word "yes"! "

8. Plan What To Say

A man places a ring on a woman's finger in a cobblestone street

Regardless of whether you're a meticulous planner, or more of an 'in-the-moment' type of person, you need to at least have a think about how you're going to ask the big question. Planners may want to put pen to paper and plan an elaborate speech. This might not be the case for more spontaneous people, but it's important to have a rough idea what you're going to say.

Remember that it's very easy to be overcome with emotion in the moment - even the most stoic people can be reduced to tears when thinking about the person they love. Make it full of personal touches and try to keep it relatively short. You could always have a secret buzz word to indicate to your proposal photographer that you're about to do it. 

Olly recognises that it can look different for every person proposing to their partner ,"Sometimes writing out what you want to say before you propose can work, other times just speaking from the heart can work. Just slow down, be sincere and enjoy the moment."

9. Stay In The Moment

No matter how you've decided to propose, those moments after your partner has said "yes" will be some of the most heartfelt and important moments of your relationship to date, and you'll be sure to want to make them last as long as possible.

Olly agrees, explaining, "After proposing, don't point out the surprise photographer right away. Stay in the moment. Emotions will be running wild after you propose. Hug, kiss, laugh, cry together and these will make amazing pictures too. Reveal the photographer after a few minutes."

This will give you even more beautiful candid pictures full of smiles, tears and genuine emotions. 

10. Enjoy Time Together

The day doesn't have to stop as soon as you've revealed your engagement photographer. If you've listened to tip number four and decided to make an entire day out of your proposal, then you may have some activities or further celebrations planned for after the big moment. You could even double up the proposal with an impromptu engagement photo shoot!

Olly adds, "After the surprise proposal, I often spend an hour with the couple having a wander around and capturing some moments. Think about what you could do together- explore a nearby landmark, go for a coffee or something else."

READ MORE: Gorgeous Outfits for Your Engagement Photo Shoot

Should I Have Someone Take Pictures of My Proposal?

Couple walk hand in hand through Covent Garden market

As this is a very special intimate moment between you and your partner, some people may feel sceptical about inviting a third person in to record this. However, bear in mind that this is a once-in-a-lifetime moment - you have one chance to capture these pictures and you don't want to regret missing it. 

It also gives you an opportunity to get used to being in front of a camera lens ahead of your wedding which is especially useful if you know you're likely to feel camera shy. 

Olly adds, "Your proposal is a once in a lifetime moment so to have photos as memories of this event is so precious. I'd highly recommend getting someone in who is experienced in photographing proposals. They are such quick events to capture so you want someone with quick reactions, someone who can read moments and work out how to get the best composition.

"If the photographer works discreetly then your partner won't even know they are there until afterwards. I'd definitely recommend hiring someone."

How to Get Pictures of Your Proposal?

The first step is to choose your engagement photographer. It's important to do your research, as different photographers can have very different styles. Have a browse of wedding photographers here on Hitched, many of whom are available for proposal photography too. 

Olly also advises, "You can search online for local photographers to where you're planning on proposing and even better, searching for proposal photographers. Choose someone with the style that you like.

"If you want everything to be set up and posed choose someone with more of a posed traditional style. If you like natural and candid then choose someone who goes for more of a documentary style of photography. Also - ask friends who've had weddings or had their own proposal photographed. There's nothing like a personal recommendation."

Finding it difficult to choose how to propose? Check out these 61 proposal ideas that'll get you a yes.