Photographing a surprise proposal at Tavern on the Green in NYC during the holidays is a truly special and romantic occasion. I always pass by Tavern on the Green when I’m at Central Park but never went inside. The holiday decorations there are such a cozy vibe!
As a photographer, it’s always a privilege to be invited by clients to capture such an intimate and meaningful moment in a couple’s life. However, with that romantic vibe comes the challenge of shooting in low-light conditions that are common during the holiday season.
One of the most important things to consider when photographing a surprise proposal is to be discreet. This means finding a good vantage point that allows you to capture the moment without being too obvious or interrupting the proposal. This is why I always recommend doing a walkthrough with the proposer so they know where they are coming from, and I know where to be watching. At Tavern on the Green’s terrace where my client was proposing, it’s wide open, and the iconic Christmas tree made for a beautiful backdrop.
One of the biggest challenges of photographing a surprise proposal in low light is getting the exposure right. It is important to use a fast lens with a wide aperture to allow as much light in as possible, as well as a high ISO to ensure that the image is not too dark. In situations like these I’m really pumping the ISO since being wide open at f/2.8 is not enough. Having a lens wider than 2.8 would be ideal. Making the shutterspeed under 1/200 is not necessarily advisable since motion blur will be pretty evident. Proposals literally only take 30 seconds so every second counts! However, in order to get more light into the scene, shutterspeed should be considered down to 1/100.
Many times I will ask my couple to re-stage the pose with flash to ensure we get “the shot.” This can be achieved by using an off-camera flash or by finding a location that has good ambient light. At Tavern on the Green, the Christmas lights and decorations provide a festive backdrop and add some extra sparkle to the images, but were not strong enough light-wise.
Capturing a surprise proposal is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most couples, and it’s important to be prepared and ready to capture the moment as it unfolds. By considering the low light conditions and finding the right location and lighting setup, it is possible to create romantic images that the couple will treasure for years to come!
Pin this post!