I got this engagement shoot after photographing Hayleys Mom and Dads wedding last year. Do you remember the wedding vow renewal I shot about a year ago, with Simone and Mark? This is her daughter and future son in law. When I shot Simone and Marks vow renewal Simone told me that I should prepare to photograph Hayley’s engagement soon. But I genuinely thought she was just joking – as you can see, she was not.
Wade had told Hayley that they would just be going away for the weekend. Meanwhile he had planned the most incredible engagement! He planned everything! Creative sneaky ways to ask Hayleys parents for permission to marry her. Organising the most stunning venue, Moledi Gorge. A game drive. To a gorgeous lookout spot where they could have some celebratory champaign. And of course me, for the engagement shoot.
Since Hayley had no clue that this wasn’t just a romantic getaway, she could not see me around. She knows who I am and that I’m a photographer. So Wade had arranged with me to make sure I get there early. I was to be driven out to the lookout spot before they arrived at the lodge. One of the venues staff stayed with me at the location (apparently to look after the food, but I think they were more nervous I would get attacked by baboons), while they went back to fetch Hayley and Wade.
From our spot we could sort of see a part of the road where Hayley and Wade would come up from. As soon as I saw the game truck approach I ran and hid behind a thicket to one side of the look out. I least expected anyone to try use this spot as a lookout point. But it also had a clear view of where I hoped the engagement would happen.
However as soon as Hayley got off the truck she looked straight into the ticket that I was hiding behind. And then started walking straight towards me! By now my heart was thumping so loudly I was sure she was going to hear it! I knew there was no way she would see me as long as she didn’t try do some bunda-bashing and get behind the thicket to try see the view. She must have only been about 2 meters away from me when she came to a stop and stood looking out at the view.
Oh I forgot to mention what a hot day this was. So here I was behind this thicket, crouched over so I could use the one gap I could find so I could keep an eye on things. I was sweating like a pig – half from the heat and half from thinking I’m about to blow this whole mission. And there is Hayley standing right in front of me! While this is all going on I can see Wade in the background (nervous as anything) looking around to see if he can try spot me!
Hayley eventually moved on and I nearly let out a little “whoop”! Wade started to gently lead her to the spot I had predicted he would pop the question.
While he was busy chatting to her and getting down on one knee I was busy doing some acrobatics to get out of the thicket. So while I had been waiting I had been practicing how I was going to get out of the thicket. I had to do this without making a noise and without her seeing or diverting her attention.
There were two rather large thorn bushes and real stick like plants that I had to get over to get out into the open and get my clear shot. The poor guy staying with me to ‘protect the food’ must have thought I was a really loony woman. It must have taken me at least 8 tries before I perfected my soundless leaping – a few of them I half landed in the one thorn bush! Oh and have you ever tried to jump really high while holding two heavy cameras in your hands – it was quite a work out – and loads of fun!
Anyway. Back to the important details. Wade was visibly shaking and looked truly terrified! But, Hayley was surprised as ever, and didn’t hesitate to say yes. She loved the ring and loved the surprise and effort he went to for the proposal.
Even more so after phoning her parents to let them know the good news, and found out they were in on it all along!
So these next few pics are the reason I LOVE my clients so much! Wade and Hayley were a bit confused when I got so super excited about the light and the clouds and since it was pretty dark by this time. I think they really thought there was no way I would get a decent pic, but they trusted me and just went along with things. And after I showed them the odd pic on the back of my camera they were super happy to go along with the madness!