3 Tips for Perfect Proposal Photos

Featuring Rachel Stelter Photography


You’ve got the ring and you’ve found the perfect spot to propose. The plans are all in motion, the only thing left to do? Hire a proposal photographer to capture your fiance’s reaction perfectly. You know, for when she posts “WE’RE ENGAGED!”

Beyond making a great social media announcement, hiring a professional proposal photographer allows you to have frame-worthy memories from this major milestone in your relationship. Plus, it’s an extra surprise that your fianceé will love!

Here are 3 tips for perfect proposal photos

1. Communication is Key

The key to making sure your proposal photos come together without a hitch? Very clear communication and coordination between you and your photographer.

Key Things to Communicate On:

  • What you look like! Your photographer will need to be able to spot you, sometimes from afar

  • The exact spot. Coordinate with your photographer on where you’ll be getting down on one knee, and which direction to face to insure that both you and your soon-to-be fiancé’s faces are visible in your photos.

  • Lighting: This one is your photographer’s responsibility. Your photographer should confirm that the time of day / lighting at your chosen proposal location will work favorably for photos, and can recommend minor adjustments if needed.

I always highly recommend to my clients that we meet up the week of the proposal and do a quick walkthrough of the area together at the same time of day that the proposal will be taking place.

This eliminates any potential confusion as to where the proposal is happening, especially for areas that may not have a major landmark to go off of, such as the beach or on a trail. Plus, knowing exactly where to kneel takes one more thing off your mind, so you can focus on what to say, and not where to be.

If your schedule doesn’t allow you to do a walkthrough, make sure your photographer is able to scout out the area in advance. By closely coordinating pre-proposal, you’ll be able to rest assured that your proposal photos will go according to plan, with no surprises!


  • Send your photographer a photo of both you and your partner, as well as a photo of what you’ll be wearing on the day of the proposal. If you’re going to be meeting for the first time on the day of the proposal, your photographer will need to be able to identify you easily.

2.  Allow time for a short portrait session after the proposal

  • There is no recreating the raw emotions that are flying high both during and after a proposal.

  • Talk with your photographer about leaving 15-20 minutes after the proposal for a short portrait session.

  • If getting beautiful surprise proposal photos is a priority, then my recommendation is to pop the question 1 hour before sunset. This way, you’ll have lots of light for the proposal, AND can still take advantage of golden hour for post-proposal portraits.


  • Include a small prop in your proposal and it can later be incorporated into your portraits. Whether it’s flowers, a sign, or my favorite...champagne, it will add a personal touch to your photos.

3. Don’t Let Your Location Rule Out Proposal Photography

In many cases, proposals take place in public areas where there are some other people around, making it easy for your photographer to blend in without being noticed. Then, sneakily from afar, your proposal gets capture as it unfolds.

However, just because you are planning to propose at a more intimate location doesn’t mean you can’t still have the surprise captured.


If you’re planning a proposal for a more intimate area, here’s two ways you can still pull off perfect proposal photos.

  1. The Surprise Photo Shoot: Surprise your girl with a photo shoot for her birthday or an anniversary. She’ll love the VIP treatment of getting her hair and makeup done, and will have no clue as to the real reason for having a photographer there. Then, mid-way through the photo session, throw in the ultimate surprise...the proposal!

  • Just make sure you’ve coordinated with your photographer on when and where the proposal is happening during your session. You can even establish a subtle cue that will let your photographer know it’s coming.

2. Own the Proposal: Sometimes, there really isn’t anywhere your photographer can blend in, and that can be OK too. For this proposal in the private room of a restaurant, there was nowhere for me to stand where I wouldn’t be seen.


Lauren came to the restaurant with her friend, thinking they were having a girl’s-night dinner. But, when the door opened and Alex was standing on the other side, in the middle of a private candle-lit room, it was immediately clear that a proposal was about to unfold. I was able to stand far enough away that the couple still had plenty of space to be wrapped up in a world of their own while capturing Alex getting down on one knee. After the proposal and a short portrait session, they still got to enjoy an intimate dinner all to themselves!


When hiring a professional proposal photographer to capture the moment, you’ll be able to relax knowing that they’ve got you covered. By clearly communicating on the logistics of the covert mission (AKA: proposal) ahead of time, you’ll have a well-oiled game plan in place for the big moment. So relax, YOU GOT THIS!

Want to learn more about Rachel and her photography?