Exactly one-year to the day that he first traveled to Canada to visit his girlfriend, Christian made sure he and Victoria would spend the rest of their lives together.
He had been planning this moment for months, and after a slight delay waiting for the ring to come, he was ready to pop the question — only thing was, he was hoping someone would be there to capture it.
Looking back on it now I quite often chuckle to myself when I read the text message he sent me. It read, “random question, are you doing anything on Thursday evening?” After further inquiry he stopped texting me and just phoned to explain what he was planning. I was on board (of course!) and couldn’t wait to photograph the event.

The Surprise Proposal

We touched based later that night for a quick coffee to discuss the details and then scouted the location the next afternoon. A quite bay on the backside of the Camrose County fishpond, which has the rather unfortunate name of “Pleasure Island” (you can’t make that stuff up), would be perfect.
When we arrived on seen our first order of business was to find a place for me to hide so that Victoria would have no idea what was going on until he proposed. Tracey spotted an abandoned barn across the bay and we decided it would be perfect. It was far enough away to serve as good cover, but close enough to get a great picture.

This is the view Victoria and Christian would have from where the proposal would happen the next day. My plan was to shoot the picture from the window of this abandoned barn.
This is the view Victoria and Christian would have from where the proposal would happen the next day. My plan was to shoot the picture from the window of this abandoned barn.

The plan was simple. I would show up an hour or so ahead of them and set up my gear, then hunker down in the barn. Christian would set out his picnic in the exact location we had discussed and I would photograph the event silently (as it turns out, this was much more difficult than I’d expected).
So, on May 22, 2014 at 5 p.m. I arrived at Pleasure Island with everything I would need to get the perfect picture. I took two cameras with me, my Canon 7D with a 100-400mm lens and my trusty Canon 1Ds Mk III with a 70-200mm. I also brought a tripod, bug spray, water, two towels and a small piece of carpet to sit on.
My plan was to use both cameras from the cover of the barn, but when I arrived I realized that any movement at all would almost certainly give me away and so I stuck with the 7D on a tripod.
I also realized that my face would be visible from across the pond, so just before the couple arrived I threw a towel over my head and over the camera so that from the other side of the pond all you could see was darkness inside the barn window.
This brought a new problem with it. Since even the slightest movement would likely blow my cover I couldn’t move my face away from the viewfinder to check my focus or exposure on the back screen. I had to shoot the entire experience in Manual mode and do the exposure calculations in my head (terrifying for such an important moment).

Here are a few photographs from the setup. What a blast it was to take these pictures!
Here are a few photographs from the setup. What a blast it was to take these pictures!

Then the moment was upon me. Victoria and Christian appeared in my viewfinder and I started taking pictures.
As I said previously, I hadn’t realized just how difficult it would be to stay silent. I had already been sitting in the barn waiting for just over an hour and their picnic lasted about 30 minutes before he proposed. I was sitting on a small piece of 2×4 lumber that was turned up on it’s edge (thankfully I had that carpet on top to cushion it a bit) and my legs were almost completely numb — they had fallen asleep and I couldn’t move them for fear that the rustling would draw attention to me location.
On more than one occasion I thought I was dead. Victoria looked directly at me at least three times during the date and each time I was sure she would notice the camera. Thankfully, I was able to blend in well enough that she never noticed.
I had to stifle a chuckle while they were enjoying their picnic as Christian looked directly into my camera and took a huge drink! You could see the excitement in his face, but that one moment struck me as one of sheer terror — the fear I’m sure every man goes through right before he drops the knee.
Christian had made a photo album full of photographs from their dating years and that was my cue the big moment was about to happen.
The last page of the photo album was a picture of him with a sign on it that said, “will you marry me?”
In storybook fashion he dropped to one knee, she looked up into his eyes and without hesitation, she said yes!

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The couple sat together for another couple of minutes enjoying the excitement of the moment. Then, Christian put his arm around Victoria and pointed towards me. She had no idea! We had succeeded!

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I took a few more photographs before giving them both a quick hug, complimenting the ring, and leaving them along to celebrate their engagement.
Congratulations Christian and Victoria. We couldn’t be happier for you and we’re so blessed to have been a part of such a special memory.

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