Thistle Lodge Sanibel Florida Candid Engagement Photography

Pat proposes to Beth at the Thistle Lodge on Sanibel Island, Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 1/200th ISO 1000 

It is thought that Craigslist does not have much legitimate content with regards to work.  Yet, I still give a check almost every day just in case there is a legit photo need posted by someone.  Such was the case with Pat who put up an interesting post looking for help with making a surprise proposal to his girlfriend on Sanibel Island at the Thistle Lodge.

Candid engagement photography on Sanibel Island at the Thistle Lodge - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 1/200th ISO 1000

This is how I came to learn of Pat's rather elaborate plans for proposing to his girlfriend.  My part was simple, yet tricky--attempt as much as possible to go unnoticed to make candid photos of him proposing.  Using a combination of my street photography skills and my acting ability, despite being out in the open on a beach, I think I did a good job of maintaining the illusion of just coincidentally being there, at least for the first few minutes.  

Pat had an elaborate setup with a message in a bottle, a poster reveal and a signed baseball for his engagement surprise! - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 1/200th ISO 320

I arrived while other people Pat had hired were setting up the props and the heart with candles traced into the sand.  I noticed just a little ways down the beach there was a wedding taking place, so I thought I could kind of pass it off by looking toward the wedding at first that I was there to shoot that, not what Pat was about to do.

All smiles after proposing at the Thistle Lodge on Sanibel, Florida - Nikon D90 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/6.3 1/60th ISO 200 - Strobist: SB800 & SB600 off camera 

The other challenge was shooting in very low light, but possibly moving subjects without flash in order to maintain the air of me not actually shooting the proposal.  So I had to crank the ISO up higher than I normally would while shooting on the beach making portraits.  

The moment of the big question on Sanibel Island Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 1/200th ISO 1000

After the formal marriage proposal, there was no point on my end in pretending I was not there to photograph them and I got in closer while Beth read a message in a bottle Pat had written her and she signed a baseball promising forever.

Looking to the future after getting engaged at Thistle Lodge Sanibel Florida - Nikon D90 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/6.3 1/30th ISO 200th - Strobist: SB800 & SB-600 side lighting

It was one of my more enjoyable shoots.  It was great to be in on such a surprise and to see a genuine moment like that firsthand.  Pat was a great client, especially for one from Craigslist!  Now if they decide to have a destination wedding, I may see them again!