8 Easy Ways to Capture Proposal Pictures for a Lasting Memory

Because blurry proposal pics are not an option.
lindsay tigar the knot
Lindsay Tigar
lindsay tigar the knot
Lindsay Tigar
Wedding Planning Contributor
  • Lindsay contributes articles to The Knot Worldwide, with a specialty in honeymoon travel and creating wedding planning.
  • Lindsay owns a content agency, Tigar Types, to help businesses of all sizes grow their digital footprints.
  • Lindsay freelances for a plethora of publications, covering many topics, ranging from wedding advice and planning to travel, health and more.
Updated Apr 27, 2023

After searching high and low on every dating app and any singles mixer you could find, you finally met your person. And now, you're ready to take your relationship to the next level by proposing. This exciting, life-changing decision is a special one—and it calls for documentation.

Many couples seek meaningful ways to capture their proposals through keepsake photos that create lasting memories. When thinking about this once-in-a-lifetime moment, you may ask a family member or friend to hide nearby and snap pictures. Or, for a more professional experience, set aside a budget for a photographer. Here, we share how to make the most out of either option:

How to Source a Proposal Photographer and/or Videographer

The easiest way to ensure excellent proposal photos is leaving it to the professionals. Turns out that an increasing number of proposers are hiring a professional photographer and/or videographer to capture the moment (head to The Knot Marketplace to find a photo pro near you). As you start working together, these tips will ensure you get the very best proposal pics.

Interview and share ideas.

Since you can anticipate spending several hundred (and perhaps, a thousand) on a proposal photographer, you want to ensure you hire the right match for your vision. Like any other hire, start by interviewing locally-recommended photographers in your area. During this time, don't be afraid to ask many questions and share your proposal plan, says Jen Sulak, the lead wedding photographer at Weirdo Weddings. Listen to their feedback and make sure you feel comfortable with them. After all: they're capturing a very intimate moment in your life. "Go with the energy you feel connected to the best and notice how seamless everything can go for you," she adds.

See if they're familiar with the location.

While it's not a must-have, if you are planning a proposal in a nearby park, bar or area in town, see if you can source a photographer who has already shot a proposal in this exact spot, recommends Sarah Olson, the owner of CityLux Studios. "After years of experience doing them, we have learned a lot, especially for our city. We know what spots will present a challenge and what will work best for you," she says. "They should be familiar with the location and be able to tell you how they will arrive, let you know the exact spot to go and what they will do if something happens or needs to change at the last minute. If they don't have that level of professionalism and experience, talk to some others."

Ask about their equipment.

You don't need to know your way around a professional, expensive camera to interview a photographer. But you should feel free to ask them about their equipment and if they can shoot in any condition, weather or lighting, says Mary Angelini, the owner of Key Moment Films.

"Ensure they have a lens to capture images in low light without a flash," she continues. "Most proposals occur during sunset or under candlelight and are typically in a darker space. You will want to ensure they will not use flash, which will interrupt the proposal's intimate feel."

Request past proposal examples.

Shooting a proposal requires a certain level of expertise—and it's worth going with a photographer with specific experience in this type of project. In addition to capturing the moment with a camera, they must be schooled in hiding, anticipating surprises or mishaps, being flexible and of course, quiet. "Experience is necessary because hiring a professional videographer or photographer with experience shooting proposals is essential," Angelini says. "Experience helps a professional handle unexpected situations, such as equipment failure or changing weather conditions. They will know how to adjust their equipment or approach to capture the shot flawlessly."

How to Give Friends and Family Helpful Pointers

If you're entrusting loved ones to take your proposal pictures, you'll want to do some prep ahead of time to ensure success.

Rent a telephoto lens.

If you don't have the budget to hire a professional photographer—don't sweat it. Instead, make your proposal photos legendary by enlisting a trusted friend or family member willing to go undercover to capture the moment. And if you can, go ahead and rent a professional telephoto lens for a DSLR camera, Angelini suggests. "Selecting a telephoto lens to rent with the best low-light capabilities is ideal so that the camera can be far away and discrete while still capturing the moment intimately," she says.

Choose the best lighting opportunity.

If you are unable to grab a professional for your big event, Sulak urges couples to consider lighting sources when they ask a friend or family member to do it. "These days, we all use our phones, but that doesn't mean perfect lighting," she continues. "If possible, have all sun or all diffused light if you're proposing outdoors. If you are indoors at night, please consider a well-lit area inside to see the details, faces and expressions."

Use a tripod.

Have a friend but not a high-grade camera? Using a smartphone probably won't produce a printable, framable photo—but it will at least record the memory. However, rather than asking your friend to stand perfectly still, take off some of the pressure by using a tripod, suggests Megan Breukelman, a photographer with Megan and Kenneth. "This will help to prevent shaky footage and ensure that the proposal is captured clearly," she says.

Scout out the position.

Before the proposal, Angelini suggests working with your friend to plan the positions and shots that you want them to capture. "You can ask them to be discreet and not interfere with the proposal but rather stay hidden and capture the moment from a distance," she says. "You can also ask them to capture shots of the ring, the reactions of friends and family and any other details that will help make the final product even more special." Don't shy away from example images and specific instructions to get the final result you seek.

Why a Professional Is Worth the Investment

Yes, hiring a professional photographer and/or videographer costs money, but it's well worth it so you won't have to worry about getting amazing pics. Need more proof? Read on.

They guide the process beyond photos.

It's your proposal—and hopefully, it's the only one you'll ever have or plan. Hiring a professional may make all the difference and be worth the investment. As Angelini says, they have experience working with different types of locations and know how to capture the best angles and lighting. And they can help you select a visually stunning location that works well for your surprise proposal. "Additionally, they can advise on the best time of day and weather conditions that will help create the most favorable lighting for the proposal," she adds.

They are coordination experts.

Popping the question in a specific venue, public park or area, you're unfamiliar with? There may be restrictions or requirements for filming or photography that you're unaware of—but a professional will be. "They can also help you plan the proposal's logistics, such as where to position yourself and your partner for the perfect shot. They will also be able to communicate with the venue regarding any necessary permits or permissions needed for filming or photography," she says.

They catch the little details.

If you want the best and you want the most extraordinary experience, a professional videographer or photographer will have experience capturing unexpected moments that can happen during a proposal. "They can anticipate reactions and emotions and ensure that they are captured in the footage or photographs," Angelini says. "They will also have the skills to adjust the camera settings or lighting to capture the best possible shots, even in challenging lighting conditions."

They provide peace of mind.

Perhaps the most convincing reason to hire a professional is for peace of mind. Planning a proposal can be anxiety-inducing and stressful and when you delegate the job to a professional, you take some of the pressure away. "There is a freedom to that kind of delegation to a pro; you can think less and really engage into the moment and let yourself completely go free into it," Sulak adds.

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