Surprise Proposal Photography Planning in Washington, DC

You’ve decided to propose! Congratulations! And you’d like photos to document the awesome occasion, and now you need to both plan the proposal, AND find a proposal photographer in Washington DC.

That’s where I come in (as a surprise proposal photographer!) Since you’ve never done this before, you really have no idea how to plan and coordinate it. Well, read ahead for the complete run-down.

Show Me What You Look Like

The first step is to send me some photos of you and your significant other. Send a bunch – both of you individually and together. I’ll be sure to recognize you if I have some shots of you both in various situations. We wouldn’t want this to happen…

Washington DC National Mall Proposal Photographer

Pick a Date and Time

Next, you’ll need to pick a date and time. That sounds obvious but it does take a bit of planning. If you’d like to propose somewhere on the National Mall, I recommend Sunday evenings because there aren’t too many tourists. The best time is an hour to an hour and a half before sunset. That will give us that awesome golden light. It’s called the “magic hour” for a reason.

Washington DC National Mall Proposal Photographer
Washington DC National Mall Proposal Photographer

Pick a Location

If you’re interested in proposing in a location without too many people (somewhere away from the National Mall), then the day isn’t as important. However, the time of day is. Like said before, an hour before sunset generally provides the best light. We could also do a sunrise proposal, but that would be around 6am…

Washington DC National Mall Proposal Photographer

Pick the Exact Spot

Once you pick a general location (say, the National Mall or Lincoln Memorial), I’ll create a map with some red Xs drawn on it. There might be some arrows and/or stars depending on how creative I’m feeling. Perhaps a poorly proportioned stick-figure. One red X is where you will propose and the other is where I’ll be standing.

I take many things into consideration when choosing a spot, including background, foreground, the probability of other people walking into the frame, and my ability to hide and then emerge in time to get the shot. As such, it’s very important to be at the correct spot before proposing.

Coordinate, Coordinate, Coordinate!

It’ll take close coordination to ensure we’re both in place for the actual proposal and that’s why we need to keep in touch via text leading up to it. I ask whoever is doing the proposing to text me 15 minutes out, 5 minutes out, and upon arrival on-site.

Make Sure We See Each Other

The next step is to look around, find me (I’ll be obvious, but not too obvious), and then make eye contact with me. I’ll be meandering about, pretending to be a tourist (taking photos of monuments and birds), and I’ll let you know what I’m wearing to make it easier to spot me.


Once we make eye contact, you can go ahead and propose! Please do not propose unless we first make eye contact. Not romantic eye contact, but you know, just the ‘hey I see you’ eye contactIf possible, watch out for tourists and time the proposal so they aren’t too close to you or in between us (as seen below.) You can see how alert Dan is, watchful for the incursions…

After the proposal, I’ll emerge from the shadows…

…and then depending on what you want, we’ll either finish up or we’ll go ahead and take some additional portraits for the next little while.

Other Proposal Galleries

You can see some other proposals I’ve photographed here:

Additionally, my proposal portfolio is located here.

Contact Me

I hope this post helped! If you’d like me to document your Washington DC Proposal (or eventual wedding), please reach out to me below. And, now that you’re engaged it’s never too early to start planning your wedding. Remember, photographers are one of the first vendors to be booked!