You might think of Eiffel Tower as the dream location to propose to your loved one but I have a Frenchman who flew to NYC for his marriage proposal on Times Square, in the rain!
We all dream of the far exotic places, posh or wild. Some save those for significant events and milestones like weddings, honeymoons, adventurous road trips, destination family portraits, vacations, romantic shoots, or special fine art photo sessions. A marriage proposal on Times Square would be equally thrilling for someone across the US or the ocean, and such was a young man Axel from Lyon, France.
His story is a miracle of life. At age 16 he was diagnosed with a brain tumor with a small chance of surviving. Yet he did. He couldn’t walk after the surgery, lost memory, and had double vision but he recovered, bringing several passions into his life to bring him strength: car racing, photography, writing (he is publishing a book), entrepreneurship, social projects (a camp for diabetes prevention in India), etc. (Source) He also did a TED Talk. “Life is too precious, it is too fragile, so it must be made of encounters, emotions, travels, projects, desires, dreams…”
I was introduced to him via Laura, also from France, who knows me through Juliet Events. She wrote: “My friend Axel is coming to nyc in may and he is planning to propose his girlfriend there. I know you are the best photographer in town, so i told him about you.” Shortly after, Axel and I started a series of Hangout video chats to plan his marriage proposal on Times Square during their visit to NYC. Turns out, he is also an avid amaterur photographer! We planned out the whole scenario: timing, location, angles, communication, etc. The d-day, as Axel puts it, came. Four days ago she said “Yes!”
Times Square is one huge vibrant prop to use. It is fairly easy to use for professional photography in terms of permits although I prefer to use it at night, like the recent all-day session for a young Bollywood actor which we started there at 3 AM. It is expectedly crowded during the day, introducing some challenges for a photo shoot but similar to one of my Sweet 16 clients, it rained past Tuesday so there were less people in the way. I just had to put my camera into a plastic sleeve. It wouldn’t allow to mount the speedlight, though, so no dramatic flash photography this time…
It’s easy to blend in with a big camera on Times Square. With fewer people this time, and my big white 70-200mm zoom lens with a hood for the cover from raindrops, I stroke a conversation with a lonely tourist. I told him all about this marriage proposal on Times Square thing and asked for his help in making me less isolated and suspicious. We chatted, then I saw Axel and Cindy and jumped into the action.
Once the emotions (healthy, touching, and sooo cute) passed, Axel uncovered me. In the planning stage, we wanted to extend his marriage proposal on Times Square to an engagement session in the area and on Brooklyn Bridge. I was eager to go but then I sensed that Cindy wasn’t quite ready. Perhaps it was the overwhelming emotions, or the cold rain, or being camera-shy, or all of it—she kind of wanted to hide with Axel in a cozy hotel room. So understandable! I talked them into doing some portraits on Times Square, than into taking a cab to Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge was almost empty. What a mid day miracle! Loved the chance to create a powerful dramatic shot of them dancing. Alas, that was it and we didn’t make it to the towers. I brought them to the subway and accompanied them for a bit, capturing the final beautiful shots.
Mes voeux d’amour et encore plus de miracles dans ta vie, mes amis!
P. S. I got up at 4:30 AM to write this story, hope it’s not too abrupt or clumsy. No time to polish it. I have a 3-day streak of all-day shootings, starting with a 4-hour drive to a South NJ wedding in a few hours… Au revoir!
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I don’t have behind-the-scenes but here’s one before-and-after to demo some enhancements: