2021 | Best Surprise Engagement Photoshoot Guide & Prices
How to plan a beautiful surprise engagement photoshoot for your proposal.
So, you have been browsing the internet late at night to avoid suspicion from your future fiancé, looking for a way to do a surprise engagement photoshoot along with your secret proposal on that special day. Look no further, you found the holy grail! I am the ultimate surprise engagement photographer ninja and am here to offer some expert advice. In this article, I will cover how to find your photographer and everything that you need to help you plan your secret engagement photoshoot and, capture the moment when your one true love says “yes!”.
As a professional engagement photographer based in Benoni with more than 10 years’ experience in the wedding and engagement photography industry in and around East Rand, Johannesburg, and a long list of satisfied clients, you can rest assured that your story is in good hands.
It’s always so much fun being part of the behind-the-scenes for a surprise engagement photoshoot and here are a few pictures and video from Tatenda and Nkateko’s shoot to inspire you!
How do you do a surprise engagement photoshoot?
First things first, find your photography partner.
An experienced photographer will be the best source of advice and give you an insider view of what you can expect when photographing a surprise engagement photoshoot proposal. You need to know that your photographer will be happy to be in the bushes, disguised as an unsuspecting tourist, or pretending to be an event photographer at the vent. Ready and armed with the correct camera and lens to do the proposal photoshoot when you pull out the engagement ring.
There are no second chances to catch that breath-taking joy and excitement, it will be over in a heartbeat, so you want to make sure your photographer is not surprised and that you planned the details before the surprise engagement photoshoot happens. I always make sure that my client knows what to expect on the day and help them get through any hiccups or nerves that happen on the day.
Below I listed some helpful tips to help you choose your photographer.
How to choose your photographer.
- Check which engagement photographers are available in your area or will be willing to travel with you to the proposal location. I have done a lot of destination surprise engagement photoshoots outside of my local area, like Pretoria or Zimbabwe at an additional charge so if you really like the photos check if the photographer will travel with you.
- Look for someone in your price range but keep in mind that this will be a special occasion that you want to treasure for the rest of your life so make sure their work is up to scratch and what you want.
- Check reviews and ratings on their website, Google my business, and Facebook.
- Set up a meet and greet and ask for a full portfolio to see an example of the result. This is important as website images are compressed to load faster and this will give you an opportunity to see the photographer’s work in all its glory.
- If possible, use the same photographer that you will use for your wedding day.
- If you are happy to work with them, then discuss the finer details like terms and conditions, payment, and start outlining an action plan for the day.
P.S – If you are looking for a photographer in Benoni or in and around East Rand Johannesburg, get in touch, and let’s get the ball rolling. Contact Renphotos ≫
How do you take secret engagement photos and keep it a surprise to your future fiancé?
Here you can meet with your future fiancé’s friends or family and ask them to suggest a fake family photoshoot or friend photoshoot to avoid spoiling the actual surprise. If you want a more personal experience where you are alone and you let the family and friends in on it later, you can suggest a couple photoshoot for a holiday card or special occasion and turn it into a surprise engagement photoshoot. Or have your photographer hide in plain sight at the venue, in the crowd ready to freeze time as soon as you give the green light.
What to do to make sure your photographer has enough time to take the shot?
Stretch the proposal question when you are down on your knee, hug for longer, and kiss a bit longer if you are that brave soul who does not mind public passion. 15 – 20 seconds will do the trick and allow for enough time to take that perfect picture. Agree on a word or secret sign to give a green light to the photographer before you will pop the question.
What happens after the big moment is over?
Your engagement photographer will come over to introduce themselves and take a few more photos to make sure that everything has been caught on camera.
After that, you and your now fiancé will be left alone for a few minutes to revel in the joy of the moment and the photographer will then come back to take some photos of you both at the venue.
The finer details to discuss with your surprise engagement photographer.
Picking the location for the surprise engagement photoshoot.
Here you can make a list of your favorite locations and ideas and ask the photographer to help you choose the best venue.
What to keep in mind to make sure your photographer can take the shot.
- Try to choose a venue that is not too crowded as the last thing you want is people walking in front of the camera when you pop the question. If you do choose a location that is crowded, try organizing with the venue to keep people away 15 minutes before or use a fake photoshoot to give the photographer a reason to be close by.
- Go to the venue with your photographer so that you can do a walkthrough and plan shots and practice getting down on your knee to help you get rid of preproposal jitters.
- Lighting is important and discussing what time of the day the surprise engagement proposal will happen will give both you and your photographer peace of mind to know that the lighting will work no matter what spot you pick and make the surprise engagement photoshoot perfect.
Here are a few of my favorite engagement photoshoot venues:
What do I wear for engagement photos?
You can wear anything that you want and makes you feel most comfortable, if you feel confident with your outfit then you will have that extra bit of gusto when popping the question!
- Usually, engagement photoshoots are less formal, but some people prefer to suit up. Just make sure you have an excuse for suiting up and make sure your future fiancé also dresses up if that is your plan so that she/ he does not feel undressed for the occasion.
- Avoid wearing shoes that are not appropriate for the terrain at the venue, for instance, heels will not work so well on soft grass or the beach. If you are planning to jump out of an airplane, like the couple in the picture above then wear clothes to match the proposal idea’s purpose.
- Bolder and brighter colors give a more celebratory feel as where dark colors like black and white give it a more sophisticated look. Pastels are good for just about any occasion
- Dress to match the weather, if it is cold make sure you are dressed warmly, after all, you cannot have your future fiancé freezing through it all. And the same applies to hot weather, sundresses, shorts, jeans to keep cool and avoid sweating through your photo session. Flowy sundresses make for some great photography aesthetics in the wind! It is always a winner if you love that flowy model look.
- Keep it simple, avoid overly big brand marks, neon colors, and just over the top outfits that blind the eye, unless you have a Circus theme in mind, and you have discussed it with your photographer to ensure that the lighting at the time you do your proposal will enhance the picture instead of taking the focus away from you and her/him.
Although at the end of the day, this day is about you and who you love most, so it is important that you are both comfortable and enjoying the moment when it happens. Always give each other compliments on what you wear, this creates an opportunity to snap a few beautiful reaction photos!
What time of day is best for engagement photos?
Lighting plays a big role in catching the perfect shot to give you a specific look and feel for the proposal photoshoot.
- Bright early morning lighting will give you a softer look for your pictures this is usually at around 6.00 am to 7.00 am. At around 9:00 am you will get a sharper light, which gives harsh unflattering shadows and will not make great photos.
- Early afternoon That harsh light gets worse towards the middle of the day. Between 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM, you will notice that things are warmer and in summer this can be a bit of a doozy as we all know South African summers can get quite heated. Photos here can become very harsh and sharp. This is without a doubt the worst time of day to have photos taken, but if it cannot be avoided opt for an indoor location or a venue with a lot of shade so you can avoid that harsh direct sunlight.
- Late afternoon or early evening lighting. From 4 pm onwards depending on the time of year is one of my favorite times of the day to do photo sessions. Why? Well, the lighting at this time of the day creates the best golden glow shots, that cast a bit of a halo around the subject and truly just makes a soft, warm, golden, and magical photo.
- Lastly, night photography can be tricky but if done right you can get some stunning pictures. Here you would use extra lighting props to light up the darkness around the subjects and create a glow or use the surroundings to create different shades of color in the darkness.
Still feel a bit confused about what time of the day you should choose. Do not fret, a professional photographer will have the necessary knowledge and experience to help you pick the correct time to give you the look and feel that you are after for your secret proposal photoshoot.
What should I bring for engagement photos?
List of Props that you can add to the proposal photoshoot.
- Chalkboards are always a great prop where you can write a message or names on.
- Balloons can add some flare or color to the shoot
- If you or your fiancé have any specific hobbies that involve movable objects you can bring that along to add a personal touch to the photoshoot.
- Big Initial letter made of wood, metal, or glass.
- Fairy lights or candles can be a great prop for nighttime photos.
- Champagne, glasses, and picnic gear.
- Your pets are also a great personal touch. I love meeting new furry critters but check with your photographer if this is okay as they might be allergic.
- An umbrella if the weather decides not to play along.
Above all else, remember to bring the most important prop… The engagement ring!
What if you want to be extra sneaky and record your secret proposal so that you have a video reminder of the day?
Luckily for you, videographers are typically easy enough to source and can be that extra gift to your future fiancé that you wanted to add to the surprise. I, myself have worked with my videographer partner for years and I have always found that he is just as well versed in disguise as I am. And you get the added benefit of discounted pricing when you add a videography package to your surprise engagement photoshoot!
When choosing a videographer for your surprise engagement photoshoot always make sure that you choose a professional that will work well with your photographer. This helps to avoid conflicts and getting in each other’s way on the day. No one wants to mediate disagreements on a secret proposal photoshoot.
Most asked surprise engagement photoshoot questions answered!
How much does a photographer cost for a proposal?
Most photographers work on a per hour basis. This can range from as low as R 500.00 an hour up to over R 3000.00 an hour. The price is usually based on the photographer’s work experience, quality of work and includes things like equipment cost, travel, editing, and delivering the product.
Always keep in mind to view the photographer’s work to ensure that the price comes with the quality that you expect to get out of it.
I personally charge R 1 200 an hour and then include different packages with perks and extras. I have added our most popular package for a surprise engagement photoshoot, and you can check out our videography packages by clicking here ≫. Packages can be customized to suit your needs with Renphotos. Feel free to have a look at our other packages ≫ on offer and contact us ≫ should something spark your interest.
Couple | Engagement
Couple | Engagement Photoshoot
Per Hour Rate
Includes > one-hour photoshoot in studio or on location. (excludes venue and travel charges) 80-100 edited high-resolution photos sent digitally via we-transfer.
How many engagement photos do you get?
Most photographers will include 40 – 100 images that are edited and other photographers might charge additional for editing. I usually include 80 – 100 edited High-Resolution photos that are sent digitally with WeTransfer. Editing and selecting photos can take quite some time. Generally, for an hour of photography in my case, basic editing and selection will then be about 5 hours. This is all included in the initial hourly rate.
How long do engagement photos take?
Photo session can take between an hour or two depending on what happens and how well planned your photo session is. But with proper planning and a timeline, the photoshoot should last for an hour as this is enough time to take photos on the day.
A surprise engagement Photoshoot session can take between an hour or two depending on what happens and how well planned your photo session is. But with proper planning and a timeline, the photoshoot should last for an hour as this is enough time to take photos on the day.
If you think about it your proposal will only last a few minutes and then, of course, you will do a few posed photos and the photographer will take some time to take unsuspecting photos to encompass the event and the venue and some details to get the whole story.
If you would like to see other engagement and proposal photoshoots please visit the engagement photography blog ≫
Here are two great articles on proposal ideas to help you out a bit more.
You can also check out our website to get some inspiration by following the links below.
On the last note, feel free to contact me≫ and we can have a cup of coffee if you would like to find out more about what Renphotos can do for you!