A “surprise proposal” seems a bit redundant, after all most people don’t expect to be proposed to when it happens, and that’s the idea after all. But the kind of surprise proposals I get most excited about are the ones that take it a step further, and hire me as a photographer to stake out the proposal location and secretly capture the big ask.
There’s something covert about the whole operation, it requires some stealth action on my part, and reminds me of my early days as a photojournalist for Greenpeace, working behind the scenes to snap quickly and efficiently without being seen. Life as a proposal photographer on Martha’s Vineyard is a bit more casual of course, and I often find myself crouched down in a patch of beach plums or quietly lying on my stomach in the sand (sometimes with my arch enemy, poison ivy lurking nearby) waiting for the perfect shot.
Recently, I’ve been contacted by more and more couples to photograph secret proposals and I think it’s a brilliant idea. The raw and honest emotion and excitement that follows the big question make for some of the most endearing moments I capture all year!
For the couples we work with it’s a time they’ll never forget, and a story that will be told again and again. Having stunning proposal photos is the perfect way to relive the special occasion, plus they provide a meaningful memento to mark the very beginning of the couple’s next chapter together.
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of assisting a client with a surprise proposal to his girlfriend on the beach. It was followed by a thoughtfully executed visit by two alpacas–which he had also secretly organized, given her affection for the friendly farm animals. Not only was I able to capture the initial shock and joy of the proposal, but the second surprise made for even more emotional photos–it’s not everyday you see an alpaca on the beach.
I’ve photographed secret proposals at some of my favorite portrait locations, including South Beach in Edgartown and further up-Island at a private beach in Chilmark, and each one has been a truly touching affair. Many have been followed by a second reveal, like an unexpected after party of friends and family to join in the celebration, making it that much more meaningful.
If you’re planning a secret wedding proposal ask yourself what types of environments and landscapes are important to your partner? Is there a place on Martha’s Vineyard that holds a significant meaning? Or maybe there’s a personal spot that’s totally out of the ordinary–we’ve even seen couples get engaged at the famous Jaws bridge! Wherever and however you’re thinking about proposing I can help you pull off a surprise proposal that you and your partner will be talking about for years.
Need some more inspiration? Check out some of the featured proposal stories onhowheasked.comby The Knot.
Spring has officially arrived, and I couldn’t be happier–there’s actually a spring in my step. The weather hasn’t quite caught up yet but I’m patiently waiting for the temperatures to rise and the flowers to start blooming. The solitude of winter on Martha’s Vineyard has begun to dissipate, and a noticeable shift in the tempo of the Island is upon us. Spring brings new life and new opportunities, and as far as I’m concerned this is the most wonderful time of the year. Here’s what I’m looking forward to this season:
1. Planting my garden – While the temperatures are still too cold to be planting outside, I’ve been getting things going indoors. Fortunately I have access to an unheated greenhouse, or tunnel, that allows me to begin planting seeds in preparation for moving them outdoors once the weather turns. The tunnel is available to our entire neighborhood and I take full advantage of it, especially during the winter months, by eating kale, mache, chard and arugula.
At the beginning of the month I began by planting spinach, leeks and lettuce–vegetables that can withstand the cooler temperatures. If you’re looking to get your own seeds started I’m a big fan of Johnny Seeds and Fruition Seeds, online retailers of organic, non-GMO seeds that yield beautiful, healthy plants. On Martha’s Vineyard you can also pick up seed packs at our local nurseries including Donaroma’s, SBS, Middletown, and Vineyard Gardens.
Get your own seeds started by referencing Johnny Seeds helpful seed-starting date calculator, which figures out when it’s safe to plant early crops outside based on your area’s last frost date. I’d also recommend picking up a copy of Simple Green Suppers, my cookbook with author Susie Middleton, to get inspired by all of the delicious, veggie based meals she shares. Before you know it the plants will be thriving and I’ll be enjoying a fresh, colorful summer salad with my bounty.
2. Flowers in bloom – I just love when I’m out walking or driving around and bursts of daffodils start to appear, and the purple climbing vines of wisteria, or the arching branches and bright yellow buds of forsythia pop up around town. And the lilac, oh the lilac. It grows like weeds on Martha’s Vineyard and the fragrant, sweet smell is intoxicating.
There’s just something so peaceful and comforting about spring flowers, especially after a harsh New England winter–these natural pops of color simply spread a smile across my face. When I want a real flower fix I head to Polly Hill Arboretum in West Tisbury, one of my favorite places to visit and shoot in the spring. I could spend a whole day just walking the grounds snapping photos of their diverse collection, like their famous North Tisbury azaleas, crabapples, rhododendrons, and magnolias. It’s a great place to breathe deeply, connect with nature, and go to recharge. While the season is still in flux I get my indoor flower fix at Morrice Florist in Vineyard Haven, during their Tulip Tuesday events. Every Tuesday through April they offer fresh bunches of tulips for only $10, a simple pleasure and the price is right!
3. Shedding some layers – Sure, I love the cozy comforts of winter fashion, but I’ll happily shed my warm sweaters and scarves for lighter, more colorful layers. I’m especially looking forward to the new spring fashion designs from my friend Stina Sayre, a talented, Swedish designer who’s known for the form, function and quality of her versatile pieces. Stina’s spring collections often focus on bright colors and vivid patterns, and after a season of drab, dark colors a few new pieces will be a refreshing addition to my wardrobe.
Another spring fashion treat calls for a scenic drive up to Menemsha to Pandora’s Box, an eclectic boutique of fabulous finds, where beachy meets Vineyard chic and my inner shopaholic let’s loose. Pandora’s Box doesn’t reopen until May but I’m already counting down.
4. Longer days and more light – We can all appreciate the longer days, but as a photographer prolonged, natural light is critical to me and my work. I’m in constant pursuit of the best quality light for my subjects. I love the light in the mornings and late afternoons, as the sun is still rising up and then making its way back down. The added daylight just makes me happier in general, not to mention the warmer temperatures of spring make for tolerable, frequent outdoor shoots.
5. Wedding season – The Island continues to be a sought-after destination for weddings and our popular wedding seasons are typically spring and fall, known as the “shoulder seasons.” As Martha’s Vineyard wedding photographers, our spring wedding season typically gears up in April and this year we’re looking forward to seeing what’s the latest in wedding trends and meeting new couples that are lucky in love. The rebirth of spring corresponds nicely to the new beginnings of the many couples who marry this time of year. Spring is life and life is love!
Over the last thirty years we’ve photographed hundreds of weddings both on and off Martha’s Vineyard. Each one is different and uniquely personal and we’re always impressed with the thoughtful, creative details our brides and grooms incorporate into their special day.
We’ve seen a lot of wedding trends come and go (remember disposable cameras at each table, and the introduction of the cupcake tree?) and 2018 weddings will no doubt be marked by their own styles and traits. We’ve been following along with our favorite wedding blogs–The Knot, Martha Stewart Weddings, WeddingWire, Junebug Weddings–and have highlighted five trends and predictions we keep seeing pop up for 2018.
Even more personalization. As the traditional wedding has evolved it seems now more than ever couples are embracing personalization and customization over the conventional. Nowadays the wedding planning process begins with the couple determining the overall vibe they want to set and the experience they want to curate for their guests. The Knot offers a helpful Style Quiz we recommend to those in the early planning stages, and if you’re planning a wedding on Martha’s Vineyard get in touch with our friends at KG Events & Design to determine the best theme for you.
2. Taking it inside. It looks like more people might be opting for indoor venues as a way to safeguard against the unpredictable weather, while embracing architectural details that speak to them. Historic homes, libraries, museums, and industrial lofts will top the list, offering eclectic, romantic touches. On Martha’s Vineyard we love the Old Whaling Church and the Daniel Fisher House in downtown Edgartown. Both can be reserved through the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust for a (relatively) reasonable tax deductible fee.
3. Flowers, flowers everywhere. Look forward to seeing more flowers in unexpected places, from lush arrangements to living botanical bars, to vertical hanging plants above the tables, potted plants along the aisle and large bohemian statement wreaths. Dogwoods and baby breath are expected to make a comeback, along with a lot of greenery. As far as color goes the trend seems to be dark and moody, and all signs point to purple being the color of the year. Think dramatic hues like wine, lilac, lavender, and mauve. When it comes to wedding flowers on Martha’s Vineyard we trust the thoughtful and creative work of Morrice Florist and Tea Lane Farm to provide the perfect floral designs for any affair.
4. Covering up. Sleeves and capes are likely to adorn a lot of wedding dresses this year. Brides are taking cues from the runway and this year they’re saying that bell sleeves, sheer capes, lace capelets, and kimonos will appear at the altar too. On Martha’s Vineyard the extra fabric will be especially useful to combat the chilly ocean breeze and cooler temperatures of the spring and fall.
5. Embracing the local culture. As the trend of destination weddings continues (and Martha’s Vineyard popularity too) couples are more and more invested in connecting with the local culture and sharing it with their guests. We recommend sourcing locally made wedding favors, like small jars of honey from Island Bee Company of Martha’s Vineyard, or the delectable confectionaries of Chilmark Chocolates. Another great way to embrace the local scene is to plan a pre or post wedding activities that is specific to the wedding destination. On Martha’s Vineyard try hosting a clambake in Menemsha, a bonfire on the beach, or a fishing charter for a rehearsal dinner or special event.
Spring will be here before you know it and our weekends will soon be packed with weddings of all kinds–romantic and whimsical, woodsy but chic, intimate and extravagant–and we can’t wait to see all that’s in store! In the meantime we’ll keep you informed of wedding trends and our favorite ideas for planning the perfect occasion. If you missed our last wedding post be sure to have a read for helpful planning tips and our recommendations for local vendors on Martha’s Vineyard.
We know choosing a photographer for your special occasion can be overwhelming, and we appreciate the opportunity to not only have your business but to have your trust. On Martha’s Vineyard there are dozens of other photographers offering similar services at comparable prices. Our discerning eye, our creativity and our technical knowledge are critical to our business, but what really sets us apart is the time and energy we invest in our subjects.
From the initial point of contact with our clients we take a genuine, personal approach, and strive to build a meaningful relationship before the camera comes out of the bag. We want to know what brings our subjects together, and use that information to not only make them feel more comfortable once we meet, but to help us determine the best setting for the shoot.
For our family portrait clients we want to know where they call home, what they enjoy doing together and how old the kids are. For our engagement shoot clients we want to know how they met, how the proposal went down and what’s planned for the wedding and honeymoon. We also offer suggestions and recommendations on wardrobe, and hair and makeup preparation to help ensure our clients arrive with the utmost confidence. This type of communication and information sharing allows us to better connect with our clients and prepare for our time together.
Once we arrive to a shoot we already have an established relationship and can expand on that with the camera. Photography is a personal business and we love making new friends! We enjoy conversing and engaging with our clients, we’ll talk constantly and ask questions to help distract them from the lens. We encourage natural interaction between our subjects, and use these candid exchanges to make our clients feel more comfortable, while we capture the best shots.
One of our favorite techniques is to incite laughter and joy among our subjects. It is so important for people to feel at ease and forget that they are having their picture taken! We don’t force fake smiles or demand people look directly at the camera.The best photos happen when people let their guard down, be themselves and live in the moment–this is how we enable our clients to help us tell their story most authentically.
For some of our more comfortable clients we’ll even suggest some really silly poses. We’ve photographed kids upside down, dad’s making funny faces and parents being climbed on by their kids. Their courage and self-assurance often yield some of the best photos of the entire shoot, and most honestly capture their personality and spirit. Basically however our subjects typically and most genuinely interact is how we want to shoot them.
We honestly love what we do and truly enjoy being able to capture life’s most cherished moments for our clients. Whether it’s a secret proposal, an intimate wedding, or a lively family reunion we have the tools to capture the perfect photos of your affair.
Have something planned? Contact us and we’ll get started planning the ultimate shoot for you and your family. In the meantime take a read through some helpful posing tips so you can build your camera confidence and ensure the most flattering shots.
Twist Your Body and Position Your Arms.
We know you’ve heard this red carpet trick before, a.k.a. ‘the skinny arm.’ By twisting your body and placing your camera-facing arm on your hip your upper arm will look smaller. If you find the pose to be a bit forced, try holding your bent elbows out from your sides ever so slightly or put your finger tips into your front pant pockets.
You usually want to avoid direct head-on shots. Why? Because there’ll be an absence of shadows, which could make your face look wider, larger, or slightly discolored. Instead, stand slightly sideways and tilt your chin a little bit downward.
Cross Your Legs.
In general don’t position your body straight on towards the camera, it’s not interesting and appears flat and broad. We recommend creating angles with your body, such as crossing your legs, starting at the calf. For ladies we also recommend putting your right foot forward, knee bent and place your weight on your back leg. These poses will make your hips look narrower and your legs look longer, plus it looks a bit more casual. During the shoot we work with our clients to direct and suggest different angles and shapes that can flatter the whole family.
Tis the season for engagements! We all know that the holidays are filled with joy and laughter, and that the holiday spirit is a very real thing. With family and friends gathered, and love in the air, this time of year also yields a lot of heartfelt proposals. In many cases once the ring is received the wedding planning process begins quickly thereafter.
Planning a wedding is an exciting, intimidating, time consuming and often emotional task. Choosing the perfect location and curating the ideal atmosphere that reflects you and your partner is no small feat, and getting ahead of the event is important. Fortunately, we have over twenty years of wedding photography experience on Martha’s Vineyard and have assembled some helpful tips to ease the selection process.
Some will also pick another location (in addition to where the ceremony and reception is being held) to have extra photos taken, allowing you to make the most of several picturesque Island settings.
The rehearsal dinner location is another important consideration, and there are plenty of restaurants from fine dining to casual to beach cantinas that can accomodate a large group. State Road in West Tisbury is a warm and inviting contemporary tavern that serves modern American cuisine. The Winnetu Oceanside Resort in Katama offers an expansive dining room with attached deck, cozy fire pits and a stunning view of South Beach, while Atria in downtown Edgartown boasts a formal dining room set in a charming nineteenth century Captain’s house, a brick cellar bar, a tented patio and an expansive lawn.
Food Your guests are ultimately coming to celebrate you, but they’ve likely made the trip to Martha’s Vineyard and deserve a great meal too. Martha’s Vineyard is home to fresh seafood, locally grown produce and outstanding caterers who have made it their job to provide the perfect culinary compliment to your big day. Some of our favorites include Kitchen Porch, Jamie Hamlin, Buckley’s, and Tea Lane.
The Island also offers two great local breweries Offshore Ale and Bad Martha, that can bring some local flavor to your bar. If you’re looking for a professional, customized bar experience enlist the help of Island Cocktail Co. who can set up a gorgeous, well stocked bar that your guests will swoon over.
Cake On your wedding day you actually can have your cake and eat it too! We’re so impressed with some of our local bakeries and cake artisans including Cakes by Liz, Val Cakes (offering cake pops and macaroons too), Pie Chicks and Martha’s Vineyard Gourmet Cafe and Bakery (also home to Back Door Donuts–you may have heard about their famous apple fritters which make a great late night snack).
Flowers There’s thousands of varieties, endless color schemes and all sorts of considerations like season, texture, and fragrance. We’re constantly amazed by the stunning arrangements from Tea Lane Farm (a gorgeous flower farm in Chilmark), North Tabor Farm, Morning Glory Farm, Donaroma’s and Morrice Florist (they’ve got a wonderfully curated retail space in Vineyard Haven with great gift ideas as well).
Hair While you’re figuring out how to make everything else look good don’t forget about yourself. The glam squads at Sea Spa Salon, Divine (formerly Enhance MV), Revive by Sarka and Treat Yourself can help you look great and feel even better. As for the groomsmen send them down to Benito’s for haircuts, shaves and pampering.
If it all sounds like too much to tackle on your own we highly recommend enlisting the help of trained professionals, like KG Events and With Grace, our rockstar Martha’s Vineyard wedding planners who have made it their job to make sure your Island wedding is the ultimate affair. Even if you can’t employ a planner for the entire process we urge you to consider a day-of coordinator to help ease the pressure and make the day go more smoothly.
And last but certainly not least–there’s the engagement photo shoot to schedule. This gives you a chance to really celebrate your engagement together, while getting comfortable with our team and the camera, and securing some great photos to use for the save-the-dates, or reception decor to make it more personal. Over the years we’ve seen some couples display their engagement photos alongside framed wedding photos of their parents and grandparents for an extra sentimental touch. We also offer a photo book of your engagement photos that can double as a guest book at your wedding, it’s a great place to show off your engagement photos and encourage personal wishes and sentiments from your guests.
We look forward to working with you throughout your engagement and wedding planning process and we wish you all the best along the way! Please feel free to contact us with any questions regarding your engagement or wedding photography options, or any other general planning questions–we’re happy to help.