One of the best things about life as a photographer is being invited to share in a special moment between two people, and to be able to genuinely capture that lifelong memory for them. Earlier this year I had the opportunity of shooting a proposal between Hilary and Lindsay, a couple brought together by their love of Martha’s Vineyard, and whose family I have come to know in recent years.
In early August I received a brief email from Hilary’s mom Jill, asking if I was available on a particular date, with little details provided. I had previously worked with the family on a spectacular birthday celebration for Jill, and I was happy to take on any additional projects. I was later informed that my new assignment would be helping Hilary stage the perfect proposal for her girlfriend Lindsay, at a private Chilmark beach on the north shore overlooking Vineyard Sound. I was sworn to secrecy and delighted to play a part!
Soon I was with Jill and Hilary’s father, Alan, scouting the perfect beach location – a stretch of sand the couple had both, separately frequented as kids – the day before the big ask. Jill and Alan staged the proposal themselves, with Alan even getting down on one knee to mock the exact setting for Hilary – it was a true family affair. The following day I returned for the real thing. While Hilary’s parents hid a celebratory picnic of oysters and champagne behind the big rock, I hid out of sight to photograph the proposal. The plan was for Hilary and Lindsay to arrive at 4pm, to ensure we captured a beautiful fall sunset after she popped the question.
I positioned myself far off in the dunes overlooking the rock where Hilary was planning to ask Lindsay. As I laid on my stomach, silently waiting for the perfect shot, I was reminded of my time as a Greenpeace photographer, aboard the Rainbow Warrior, covertly capturing a moment in time that told a much bigger story. There I was, sneaking in the sand, set to record an event that was so rich, and had so much meaning for these two women and their families.
Eventually Hilary and Lindsay emerged from the stairs leading to the beach and walked to the rock. Soon Hilary was confessing her love to Lindsay, down on one knee and presenting a ring, while I discreetly captured the whole thing from above. The happy couple savored the moment together and then summoned me to the shore, for some more shots of them basking in their newly engaged bliss. The day finished with a congratulatory dinner at State Road restaurant, where Lindsay was surprised yet again with her family and Hilary’s, and I was yet again there to capture it all. It was a magical day for us all, and an experience I too was grateful for.
Creative proposals have become a very big trend (I shot six others just this year). More than that they mark the beginning of a new chapter in a couple’s life together and the forging of their families – not to mention a great story for the grandkids. Thank you to Hilary and Lindsay, as well as their families, for allowing me to share in their special memory.
You can read Hilary’s version of the events at howheasked.com.
RANDI BAIRD PHOTOGRAPHY | 508.696.5335 | firstname.lastname@example.org