Professional photographers help record wedding proposals
Dan Speicher arrived at Girasole in Shadyside early, carrying a black bag.
He chose a table so he would have the perfect view.
Then, he sat and waited.
A young man, Andrew Rossi, arrived next, nodded at Speicher, and sat at a table across the way.
They waited a bit longer, with Rossi checking his smartphone several times.
Then a young woman walked in, and Rossi smiled, got down on one knee and asked her to marry him with a violinist serenading the couple.
Meanwhile, Speicher pulled a camera from his bag and shot photos to capture the moment.
Many hopeful young men are hiring professional photographers to shoot their marriage proposals.
Having a professional photographer to shoot a proposal is a trend that’s kind of cool, says Speicher, owner of Dan Speicher Photography in of Oakmont (danspeicherphoto.com), because it’s a special moment in their relationship.
Rossi wanted to do something different when he asked Shannon Hadaway to be his wife.
“I think Shannon might have thought something once she saw the violinist,” Speicher says. “And then here is this guy shooting pictures. Andrew got down on one knee and where I was located it was difficult because he blocked me a little bit, but I made an adjustment and, even though it didn’t go exactly as planned, I got the photos.
“She started crying … and then people in the restaurant started noticing. It was a nice moment.”
Shannon says she was “shocked and caught off-guard” by the proposal. The couple married on Oct. 18, 2014, and live in Lawrenceville.
“When he asked me the question and then I saw someone shooting pictures, I was like, ‘What is going on?’ ” she says. “It means so much to have that moment in photos. When I saw the photos he sent, they were beautiful, except I realized I have an ugly crying face. But when I look through the photos, I see how happy we are, and I appreciate seeing our smiles.”
She says she would definitely recommend this to other couples to have the moment captured.
“It is pretty awesome, because it’s something that we will have forever,” she says. “Every engagement is special, and I am thankful Andrew planned out such a memorable night for us.”
Being a part of this once-in-a-lifetime moment is “awesome,” says photographer Joe Appel (joeappelphotography.com), based in Crafton. “The guy is really nervous and there is a lot of planning that’s involved. And she has no idea this is coming, which is the cool thing.”
Some proposal sites, such the Mt. Washington overlook, he doesn’t look out of place with a camera.
“When it’s time, there are tears, and then she looks around and realizes someone is taking her picture,” Appel says. “ ‘Who is this, she often asks? Do you know him?’ It’s fun.”
On one shoot, Appel says the groom-to-be had his family distract the girlfriend. When her back was turned, the man knelt on one knee and then she turned around, looked at him and smiled.
“That is ‘the’ moment,” Appel says. “My job is about making sure I have a good angle to get both of them and that no one blocks me from getting the shot.”
Appel tells the men who hire him that he is going to keep taking their photos whether she says yes or no. A basic package starts at $300. Often couples want a few portraits right after the proposal or will set something up for a future date.
Married couple Brian and Lisa Leavell Ritchey of Leavell Photography of Bridgeville (leavell-photography.com) captured these special moments for three years while working for Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.
“It is an honor to be asked to be part of a proposal, engagement photos and weddings,” Lisa Leavell Ritchey says. “We get to capture moments that will outlive us and that this couple’s children and grandchildren can look at one day. They have entrusted us to capture the moment. Each one is like our baby because each one is different.”
She and her husband usually shoot together so they can cover all angles. They often take photos from far away with a long lens, so the couple doesn’t know they are being photographed.
“It is fun being incognito, because that is their moment,” she says. “There is some adrenaline, but you can’t think about yourself. You have to think about getting the shot, because you can’t re-do that moment or the reaction. You definitely have to think on your feet and be ready for anything, because, sometimes, unexpected things happen.”
It is so much fun being in on the secret, says photographer Leeann Marie Golish of the Leeann Marie Photography, based in Cecil (leeannmarie.com), whether it requires hiding in bushes or mysteriously perched on a balcony to shoot from above. She says the trend is going to become even more popular because photographers and couples are posting more of these photos on social media.
“This is the guy’s moment to shine,” Golish says.
She recalls a shoot at the Hyeholde Restaurant in Moon. The couple had dinner and then went outside for drinks. She carried her camera in a large, plain bag. One of the biggest challenges was making sure they went outside while the natural light was still good because she didn’t want to use a flash.
“The guys are always nervous and sometimes forget what you just told them, but that is part of it,” Golish says. “I remember when my husband proposed to me. You get caught up in this weird vacuum, and you don’t notice much around you. You are just so focused on the moment. But it is so nice for the guys and their fiancées to look back and see they did a good job planning the proposal.”
It is so much better to hire a professional than to just ask a someone standing nearby to take the photo — they might miss the moment, says Jamie Miles, editor of theknot.com. A professional will dress the part and be discreet, whether they have to hide or be in a specific spot far enough away, so they don’t interfere with what’s going on, she says.
It is worthwhile to have a photo of the actual proposal, Miles says. “It’s a huge moment, and to have a candid reaction captures a piece of history for that couple, one that can be lived over and over. It’s worth the money to have a professional capture it.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7889.