Recently my friend, who lives in Philly, told me she referred my photography services to one of her friends.
Marcel, who also lives in Philly, was planing a trip to Hershey Gardens, in Hershey Pa., just 10 minutes from where I live. He planned to propose to his girlfriend, Silvia, and wanted the moment photographed.
The tricky part was Silvia didn’t know about me.
Marcel and I talked and planned the event, meeting a few weeks before to do a demo trial and so he could find the perfect place to ask the big question.
We both felt confident that I could manage to stay hidden and photograph the couple as they toured the gardens and then capture the proposal.
Things didn’t go quite as planned.
I arrived early last Saturday to Hershey Gardens, planning on walking around to get some test shots for lighting purposes, and see what the gardens were like since the past few weeks had been full of rain.
Marcel texted me around 12:30 p.m. to let me know that they were a few minutes away, so I headed to the front entrance to the gardens and pretended to be photographing flowers.
Silvia noticed me not even five minutes after they entered and began looking at the gardens. She and Marcel asked me to take their photograph with their camera. So I did, while pretending that I had never met Marcel before.
My plan fell flat at that point, she was already aware of me, no chance in blending in to the other visitors now, but I waited until the couple had a short distance in front of me and I began pointing my lens in their direction.
I followed, attempting to stay away, but close enough to get some decent shots of the couple, this was difficult.
At one point Silva actually noticed I was photographing in her direction, and moved out of the way, so she thought.
I was able to capture the kiss they shared amid roses, my personal favorite from the day.
Feeling good that I captured one shot, I lingered back, and waited for another chance to capture them from the front. At this point I had stayed behind the couple, but I wanted to get in front of them, without bringing too much attention to myself.
Marcel and I had talked about a location where he would walk and sit with Silvia and then I would pass them, to be able to be in front of them. I followed, but the couple went to a location Marcel and I hadn’t noticed during our practice tour, and so I wasn’t sure what to do. I followed, passed them, and attempted to photograph them looking over a small pond, from a bridge.
I felt very close to them, so I really tried to distance myself, and waited for them to get ahead, but then realized I almost lost them.
I was able to locate them a few moments later, and really needed to focus on getting some shots, so I just started photographing them from behind.
I was able to capture this image, of the couple holding hands while walking through the gardens, which I was also happy with the results.
Finally we were at the location where Marcel was planning on proposing to Silvia.
I first got really close, walked back and fourth, trying to find the right place to be, so I could get my shot, while providing Marcel and Silva with some privacy for this special moment.
After the proposal, and what I assumed was a response of “YES” from Silvia, I wanted to get reaction shots, but really struggled with aiming my camera in their direction without Silvia noticing.
Finally I was about to leave, and Marcel and Silvia once again called me over.
Silvia told me she just got engaged and I said “congratulations” in my cheerful voice, pretending like I didn’t know it was all going to happen that day.
I photographed the couple once again with her point-and-shoot camera, commented on her lovely dress, and asked their names, to try and keep up the charade a bit longer.
Finally I asked if I could take a photograph with my camera, since I was standing right there, and I thought it would be nice to add to the collection. Glad that they agreed, I once again left the couple to pretend to photograph yet more flowers before heading out, I had much editing to do.
Marcel shared the photographs and told Silva about hiring me as a photographer to document the day. He said she was overwhelmed. Both Marcel and Silva were happy with the images I was able to provide them with so they can remember their special day.
The assignment was fun. I am glad I had the experience, by honestly, I am a better photographer than a spy, and that’s alright with me.
View more photographs from Marcel & Silva’s proposal at Hershey Gardens.