"Marriage is the greatest adventure of them all. It's filled with pitfalls and setbacks and mistakes, but it's a journey worth taking because you take it together."
Even though, as a DC surprise proposal photographer, I've photographed hundreds of proposals, capturing these once-in-a-lifetime moments is still just as much fun as the first time.
My process for surprise proposal photography is straightforward and thoughtful.
We'll meticulously plan your proposal weeks in advance because the last thing you need to worry about is your photographer. Let's just say I've never missed the shot : )
How much do proposal photos cost?
I don't believe in showing up, taking a few photos of your proposal, and then leaving. As such, I offer proposal photography in Washington DC for $400 for a full 15 minutes and $600 for a half hour package. You'll receive your edited, high-resolution, non-watermarked images in an online gallery so you can download and share however you please.
Watch the Portfolio Video
Common Questions (and Answers!)
Ok, I want to book you for a proposal! What does the process look like?
First and foremost, I'd like you to review this page and then check out a few of the proposal galleries I've linked further down the page. I want you to be sure you really like my style! Otherwise, I'd be happy to provide you recommendations for other proposal photographers.
Booking a session with me is pretty straightforward. Simply fill out the form on my contact page and I'll get in touch with you to discuss the logistics. We'll also be in touch again starting one week before the proposal to go over everything in detail. We'll decide on precise location (I've been known to provide a map and GPS coordinates), discuss which direction you'll walk from, what you'll be wearing, and how you see the proposal happening.
What if it rains?
There are a variety of location to choose from. It’s a bit more limited due to COVID shutdowns, but some great options include inside the monuments, a museum, a cafe, or a nice hotel lobby.
When do we get our photos?
I’ll provide you with a small same-day preview that includes the actual moment of the proposal, a photo of the engagement ring (and ring box if it's cool), and a few portraits of you two. The rest are delivered within one week.
Can you recommend any restaurants?
Yes! Check out this extensive article about local restaurants, along with their proximity to a variety of proposal locations.
How much time is included with a proposal session?
I offer two different options. My first package covers the actual proposal and a 15 minute mini-session immediately after. That time can be used for more portraits of you two, photos with friends, or whatever else you'd like.
The second package is the proposal with a 30 minute session immediately after.
Do you hide or something? How do you make sure my partner doesn't see you?
This depends on the location. For example, If you're proposing on the National Mall (or at any of the monuments), I'lI pretend to be a tourist. If you choose to propose in a park (like Meridian Hill Park) I'll be nearby pretending to be taking photos of nature (or something artsy, of course).
Or, if it's a more secluded location I'll hide in the bushes (sometimes actual bushes just out of sight).
What's a good cover story for the propsoal?
The simplest one is to set up date night and make a dinner reservation near where you'd like to propose and go for a walk before or afterwards. Another option is to "schedule a photo shoot" for the two of you that yout partner knows about. That way, they're expecting a photographer so it's not suspicious when I'm there. What about sunrise or early morning proposals? Easy! Brunch plans, or simply a watching the sunrise from a beautiful spot (the Lincoln Memorial, etc.)
How much are your DC surprise proposal photography sessions?
The 15 minute session is $400 and the 30 minute session is $600.
Do you offer an option for a second photographer?
I do! You can add a second photographer for $200. This would provide an alternate vantage point for your proposal.
I'm convinced. How do I book you?
Reach out to me using my contact form!
Where can I propose in DC?
There are so many places to propose in Washington DC. Here's a list I made about the best places to propose in DC, but you can see more photos from some featured proposals below. The National Mall monuments are always a great choice, but there can be a lot of people there depending the day, time of day, weather, etc. I’ve gotten pretty good at choosing angles to obscure people though.
Are there any reviews I can read from previous clients?
Chris was an absolute dream to work with and made my surprise engagement shoot fun and easy! He was great with directing us on how to stand/position ourselves, which can be uncomfortable if you’re not used to standing in front of a camera. Chris felt like an old friend and he made us feel confident which in turn helped our photos to come out beautifully! We were so pleased with the final product, but I want to emphasize how much we enjoyed the process itself. Chris is professional and kind - hire him, hire him, hire him!!!
Chris and Kirsten
Chris worked with me diligently for more than a month before my big day. He always replied back promptly and answered every single question I had, never let me feeling like I was asking too much! He even suggested ideas and places that I had not thought about too. All the planning went perfectly and the big day was a success. The pictures came out amazing and everyone was pleased.
Ramana and Neha
Totally Worth It. He was quick to respond to emails and was helpful throughout the process of choosing a location. On the day of, he is discrete and pretends to be a touristy photographer. Right before I popped the question, he makes sure that you make eye contact with him so that he knows when to start shooting. His ability to capture the exact moment of the proposal was my favorite part of the whole experience. The photographs could not have come out better.
I hired Chris for my proposal, and he was absolutely exceptional. His attention to detail and artistic vision are top notch. He was very discreet in planning, and made sure to capture the moment perfectly. Chris was also great in editing the photos quickly! 5 stars, I would recommend him to anyone!
Reach out now to book me as your DC surprise proposal photograher, or keep reading for a complete rundown of the process!
Proposal Planning in Washington, DC
Since you've likely never done this before, you may have no idea how to plan and coordinate such a unique day. I can help! Read ahead for the complete run-down.
Show Me What You Look Like
The first step is to help me know what you look like! I'd love to see some photos of you and your significant other. So 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.
Also, check out my post about proposal and engagement outfit ideas!
Pick a Date and Time
Next, you'll need to pick a date and time. That sounds obvious but it can 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 usually an hour to an hour and a half before sunset. That will give us the spectacular golden light they call the "magic hour".
Pick a Location
If you're interested in proposing in a location without too many people (like somewhere away from the National Mall), then the day isn't as important. However, the time of day is. I recommend shooting an hour before sunset for getting the best light. Or if you are early birds, we could do a sunrise proposal!
Want a few more marriage proposal ideas? Here are some of my favorite spots to propose in DC.
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.
Coordinate, Coordinate, Coordinate!
Keeping in touch is key! It'll take close coordination to ensure we're both in place for the actual proposal, so keeping in touch via text leading up to it is crucial. I ask whoever is doing the proposing to text me 15 minutes out, 5 minutes out, and upon arrival on-site. It's also very helpful for you to share your live location (for an hour) using iMessage or Google Maps so I can see exactly where you are.
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! But please don't propose unless we make eye contact first! Not romantic eye contact, but you know, just the "hey I see you" eye contact. If 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 depending on what you want, we'll either finish up or we'll go ahead and take some additional portraits.
I hope this post is helpful! Interested in booking me as your DC proposal photographer? Please reach out below!