How I Photographed My Own Proposal


Hey everyone! I’m really excited to share a personal story with you all. This past weekend I asked my partner to marry me. After weeks of planning, the time had come to decide how I was going to capture the moment.

Unfortunately some of my colleague photographers were unavailable and so the thought of doing it myself crossed my mind. I felt ready for the challenge: photographing my own proposal! (As if it wasn’t enough to plan for the actual proposal, I now had to plan on how to capture it.)

A Vello IR-C1 Infrared Remote Control

A Vello IR-C1 Infrared Remote Control

To start, I needed to find something that’ll trigger my camera wirelessly and that was reliable and fast. Fortunately one of my buddies let me borrow his Vello IR-C1 Infrared Remote Control which he raved about. I picked it up and tested it by enabling the wireless option on the 5D Mark III. It worked perfectly and shot as fast as you can press the shutter button on the remote.

Next, I decided to use a tripod to get my camera ready for the big moment. It isn’t rare for me to carry a tripod and camera with me whenever I go into the city so she wouldn’t have any suspicions.

Finally, choosing a lens was very important. I wanted something that would allow me to capture as much light as possible since it would probably be night out and I didn’t want to sacrifice shutter speed or depth of field.

The Canon 35mm f/1.4

The Canon 35mm f/1.4

I also wanted something that wasn’t going to be huge and something that was wide enough for safety. So I decided to use a 35mm f/1.4.

The most important factors of this all were: (1) using a DSLR of course, and (2) using a remote to trigger the camera. So I tested the remote quite a few times before the day of the proposal. I tested it indoors, outdoors, and at variable distances and it never failed.

The day finally arrived, and I carried my camera and tripod with me. We had a lovely dinner and I was originally planning to pop the question outside the restaurant. However, as we left, there were a ton of people outside for some reason, as well as an ambulance parked right in front flashing its lights.

So we walked a bit more. It was already night out, so all I could think about was finding decent lighting. I stopped and snapped a few pictures up the block from the restaurant, but the street looked kind of sketchy.

So I moved on to a nearby park. Using the excuse that I wanted to test this “cool little remote my friend had given me,” I suggested we take a walk through the park. We walked in and I was looking for a nice little quiet spot that had some sort of lighting.

There were a few light posts so it wasn’t pitch black but still a little dark. I found the perfect walkway and stopped there and got my camera all set up:


After taking a few photos of the walkway itself and showing her “how cool it looked”, I told her to stand in the photo. This is when I got my camera settings all ready. I had a f/1.4 lens and I wanted a shallow depth of field so it would look at least a bit interesting.

I set my aperture to f/2.0, which was safe enough for me just in case she moved. I bumped my ISO to 5000, which helped out a lot since it was dark — thankfully the 5D Mark III can handle high ISOs. Finally, my shutter was set to 1/40s. This was so that my shot would have the least amount of motion blur. I pre-focused on the camera and then everything was set.

Once my camera was ready, I walked into the shot a few times to get some “test” shots and waited for some people to pass us by to steal a moment alone. Once everything aligned perfectly, I got down on one knee — all while aiming the remote at the camera — to ask the her to marry me:


At that moment I wasn’t even thinking about the camera taking photos and just trusted that it was working. Thankfully, after all was said and done, the moment was captured perfectly and I couldn’t have asked for anything better:









If you are a photographer like myself and are planning to propose soon, you may want to give this a shot. If you’re not a photographer, you can still do it yourself, or you can hire a professional to capture this special moment for you without you having to worry about the important factors that made this possible.

I had thought of capturing a video instead, but I’m glad we took the photos. Now instead of showing off some video and moving on, we can show one or two photographs and tell the story ourselves. Remember: “A picture is worth a thousand words!”

All in all, my main point is, this was such a special moment for us and for most people. I highly recommend you find someway or someone to document this moment in your life.

About the author: Richard B Flores is a photographer based in Bayonne, New Jersey. Visit his website here and his blog here. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter. This article originally appeared here.

  • Scott Wyden Kivowitz

    I did something similar, but the photos weren’t “impressive” in any way. Still fun though and memories for a lifetime!

  • O’s

    congrats buddy.

  • Scott Simpson

    I hired a photographer through Craigslist when I was planning to head to New York City to do a surprise proposal in 2008. We had it captured on video and photos in front of the marquee at the Hershey store in Times Square. A lot of coordinating but it went perfectly.

  • frank mckenna

    awesome Richard. You captured something really special here and you did it yourself which is awesome.

  • Peter

    Congrats! Well, I presume she said “Yes” :)

    Quite agree about photos over video for a moment like this. Photos you can gaze at ponder the moment. Wonderful story – pleased you posted.

  • Adam Cross

    this is really great ^_^ also – I’m was thinking this remote might be something special but it’s cheaper than Canon’s cheap and cheerful RC-6! which I use regularly, never really thought about other IR remotes. shall note this one.

  • Rob @

    That is awesome.

    As a tip to anybody else trying this. I am often in the position of model and photographer. I use a similar RF remote. One trick I use is the Bulb function on the remote, with the camera set to auto bracket or rapid fire. That leaves me only having to deal with stop and start of a sequence.

    Things to think about: Auto focus can slow the hole thing down if the camera starts hunting mid sequence, use manual when you can. Also, make sure you know the limits of your camera’s buffer and card writing speed, helps to avoid missing the shot.

  • Richard B Flores

    Thanks Frank

  • Mansgame

    Facebooks is leaking on here again.

  • Richard B Flores

    I think it’s under $10!!

  • Observer

    You’re all over your remote. And she’s not all over you. Almost like you did all this to take the photo. As distant as the camera and the remote.

  • Henri

    You’re a lonely loser.

  • Richard B Flores

    Someone had lent me the remote actually. And it worked better than expected so kudos to that little handy device.

  • Sabronidas

    I think the day of your proposal is better to forget about being a Photographer and just enjoy the moment. Same with weddings and other events.

  • Bill

    Good Job and Congratulations to the both of you.

    If looking for an option, some remote flash triggers like the Yongnuo RF-603’s, have a feature that you can use them as a remote shutter. I use these and they work pretty good for what they are.

    I don’t own a remote, never thought I would need one [for my purposes anyway] but since these triggers have this, no need to get one.

    Great job.

  • Jamil Abbasy

    Great post and great photos! I would recommend using the Canon timer remote where you can set it to take a photo at set intervals. I have done this in the past where I set it to take a pic every second. I velcro the remote to the tripod leg so it stays put too.