Though it’s beyond understanding and equally beautiful, life can also be quite surprising. That afternoon when Paul called me, because he was looking for a photographer to capture his surprise proposal to Nicole in Quebec City, my mind was coincidently being reminded of the magic behind the past surprise proposals we have photographed during the year. I find photographing surprise proposal just as stressful (a positive stress that is) and exciting as documenting a wedding. I love everything about it, from the planning process all the way to the execution. Maybe that’s because it strikes a chord with the inner-engineer in me.
So here we are. Here they are.
Beautiful Quebec City. More precisely, Old Québec. Or Le Vieux-Québec as we say it here in La belle province. And it gets better. It’s winter and the snow is covering the feet of the Château Frontenac and the old village ever so beautifully.
Paul and I have already planned how it will all go down. We practiced together at the exact spot he wants to propose, just a few hours before Nicole’s plane touches ground at the airport.
A few hours later, it’s show time. We’re ready and this time we’re trying something new. Video. As much as I love still photographs to tell stories, there are some scenarios that are better told in a motion picture. Take a surprise proposal as an example. Let’s show the entire story. My thinking is that their kids might want to see it sometime in the future. That’s a good enough reason to try it out. And if it doesn’t work out, at least we have tried. So my wife and I arrive at the spot about 15 minutes before Paul and Nicole do, and we set up a little camera underneath a pine tree facing the spot. My wife is pretending to talk on the phone, looking inside the window of some of the local stores of the street. She presses the recording button and waits.
And here they come. Together, holding hands. He knows exactly what’s going to happen. I wonder what she’s thinking at the moment. Now this is the part where it doesn’t matter how much planning goes into an operation, sometimes something else that was totally unplanned occurs which makes the outcome even better. As Paul is getting down on his knee to propose, Nicole instantly figures out what happens and she instantly hugs him with so much joy. You see, the initial plan was for Nicole to see her engagement ring (which her dad and Paul secretly worked together on it, just like James Bond and Q would in one of the 007’s film) and then say ‘yes’. Ring first, Paul second. But that’s not quite what happened. She looked at him first! And that’s when I realized that love goes beyond anything, beyond jewelry or precious things. The look on his face was enough for her heart to touch his. Only after they hugged, that she then realized what Paul was holding in his hand. A beautiful symbol for a new beginning. Do I need to say that she hugged him again? Well, she did. And that’s when I knew we could come out of our hiding place and introduce ourselves to Nicole. The next day, we took some time to walk around the village and continue making some beautiful photographs.
We love photography. We love Quebec City. We love Paul and Nicole so much. It was a wonderful thing to have spent an afternoon with them that day. We wish them nothing but the best in life. Congratulations on this new adventure you two!
Oh, and about that video. It worked. In fact, it worked so well, that we were surprised ourselves about the emotional impact it generated when we watched it. We loved the process so much, that we’re thinking of starting to offer it to clients in the future.
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