I've heard about other photographers who've done this sort of thing and I've been a bit envious. My favorite thing about photographing people is capturing genuine emotion. One of my least favorite things is awkward posing and stoic setups. So ultimately, though I do engage in creating art at my shoots and propelling ideas, I am at my core a photojournalist. This was the perfect scenerio. Eric called me up the day before the shoot. It was the most spontaneous shoot I've ever done. It happened that I had an appointment nearby and would be able to meet him exactly when he needed me. He was driving up form Myrtle Beach to visit his Grandparents with his girlfriend. He had a date with Jacqui scheduled for the Wolf Creek Winery. He also had a surprise in mind. We texted throughout the day everytime he stopped for gas, setting up the situation in a way my presence would not be made known. This might be as close to a 007 secret mission as I get, so I was pretty excited. I polished up my 70-200 and prepared for ultimate test of my ninja photographic skills.
Since it was so spontaneous, I didn't have much time to think about the fact the I'd never done this before. I've shot so many couples and weddings that I rarely get nervous or lack confidence in those situations, but this was a bit different. I really liked it. If there was niche market for proposal photographers I think I would throw my hat in. One of the most special memories I have is the moment I proposed to Nelli nearly 13 years ago. I was a poor college student. I literally had about $650 to my name and I spent all but $3.50 on a ring because I knew it was the time and that is was right. I led her down a path into the woods right beside the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Montana and on one knee totally shocked her. It was the best decision of my life. I would give a lot to have images of that moment right now. I wonder why more people don't celebrate this event with photographs. Eric is a very thoughtful person.
When I arrived, it was pretty easy to spot them:)
I tried to blend in with a group of ladies up on the balcony, but pretty soon they started getting a bit excited about what I was doing and drawing some attention so I moved into covert operation.
I was a little uncertain of exactly when he was going to make the move. Eric intermittently would text me (she thought is was his cousin) "Where u want us?" ....me - "HIll above tree?" My main concern was staying hidden because the last thing I wanted was for Jacque to see this secret agent snapping away and tell Eric there was someone taking their pictures. My internal agent was saying "Don't blow your cover Jesse." And that's when this happened...
Jacqui looked right at me! Did she see me? Phew. The answer is no. With suprise intact the plan progessed.
And then after a few moments of nervousness and suspense I scurried up behind a rock just in time for...
With Jacqui's hair blowing in the wind at a beautiful winery in Northeast Ohio her decision would alter the course of her and Eric's lives. Can you guess what she said?
We decided to head down by the vines to take a few more once we were formally introduced. It felt like a success and I don't think Jacque quit smiling for one second.
Thanks to you Eric for inviting me in on this. It was a homerun and the beginning of a special time in your lives. Grateful I could be a part of it.