Why you shouldn’t disguise your proposal as a photo session


I specialize in proposal photography, and I’ve helped plan many types of proposals. I’ve heard many made-up backstories; fake galas, fake birthday parties, and fake casual strolls around the lake.

If you want to surprise your partner with a proposal, you may need to lie to them a bit. It’s kind of weird, but it’s true.

I’ve also photographed proposals that were disguised as regular photo sessions. I’m here to tell you that 100% of the time, everyone involved guessed exactly what was happening. Your partner is smart, so give them some credit.

I mean no disrespect to the couples I know who have done this, but I don’t recommend it. I feel pretty strongly about this, so let’s get into it! 👇

Why some assume a fake photo session is a good idea

You may need to get creative finding a way to convince your partner to look and dress nicely when you propose. If you’re too insistent on them looking nice or wearing a certain outfit though, that will look suspicious.

If it’s more important to surprise your partner than it is to look nice, than I don’t recommend telling them that you booked a photo session. In my experience, it’s a great way to convince them to dress nicely, but it may let them know that a proposal is coming. If planning a photo session would seem out of character for you, than don’t do it. It’s very possible that they’ve heard of this tactic being used before.

Why other photographers might suggest it

As a proposal photographer, I know how hard it can be. I’ve photographed about 300 proposals, and I’m super comfortable with it. I was definitely nervous the first few times though. If you’re working with another photographer and they suggest disguising your proposal as a photo session, it may be because they’re not confident they can capture your proposal unless it’s set up that way.

The whole benefit of hiring a specialized proposal photographer is that you can count on them to capture your proposal seemingly out of nowhere.

Every photo on this blog post was taken as a surprise. Not one of these well dressed girls was told that a photo session was happening. There are lots of other ways to have your partner dress nicely.

Now here’s why I don’t recommend this tactic…

We’ll have to skip a lot of the prep that goes into a real photo session

Normally, when a couple books a photo session, I do a lot to prepare both of them for the session. I show them past photo galleries so they know what to expect. I send an email with tips and information about my style. I ask them to fill out a questionnaire that helps me get to know them and personalize the session.

All of this helps both of you feel more confident and comfortable going into the session.

If you book a photo session and just tell your partner to show up, we have to skip most of this. They enter an already uncomfortable and high pressure situation (a photo session), with no preparation. They don’t even know who their photographer will be.

On top of that, I guarantee they know that you’re about to propose. These two things combined creates one of the most intense and stressful experiences they could have.

I’m not just being dramatic about this either. These are two nerve-racking situations, and this isn’t how either of you should feel going into your proposal.

We’re not actors, and we shouldn’t spend the moments before you propose awkwardly faking something

From my perspective, we show up to the “photo session”, and all three of us know what is happening. I introduce myself to your partner for the first time, give them a few tips, and then we get started.

While we’re taking photos for the first few minutes, WE ALL KNOW what we’re building up to. 😂 We all know what role we’re playing. The more time that passes, maybe a little doubt enters your partner’s mind, but right when they start to think this may actually be a regular photo session, you propose.

This doesn’t include the hours you’ll spent getting ready, choosing outfits, and struggling to explain to your partner why you can’t give them more information or tell them who your photographer is.

Kind of awkward, right?

You’ll take engagement photos later on

Remember that you can always take more engagement photos later. There’s no need to rush things and try to combine two types of photo sessions into one event.

Your proposal is super important, but it’s also only step 1 of many. After you get engaged, you’ll do lots of fun things to plan your wedding; maybe an engagement party, engagement photos, touring venues, choosing vendors, etc.

The best part is that you’ll get to make these decisions together!

Your proposal is more important than photos

I want you to have a smooth and fun experience! I’ll be there taking photos. I’ll help plan your proposal in a way that naturally makes your photos look great. The location and lighting will be ideal for that. But really, this is not about the photos.

Your proposal and your marriage is more important than having the perfect photos to show your friends.

I’ve spent years mastering this really specific type of photography. My main goal is to balance your great experience and your beautiful photos. You can have both! 🥳

If you have any questions about this topic, just let me know! Contact me to start planning your proposal in Austin, Texas!

Photographers – Want to learn how to photograph proposals? Join me for weekly education!

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