Photo Picking the Best Surprise Proposal Photographer

Picking the Best Surprise Proposal Photographer

Paparazzi Proposals founder James Ambler weighs in on what to look for when picking your perfect surprise proposal photographer

Photography is a tricky area to search for an expert.

There’s no governing body in terms of what makes someone a photographer and what doesn’t.  Any hobbyist can pick up their smartphone, take some pretty pictures, create a website and suddenly claim to be a photographer.

Which is why choosing the right photographer to capture your proposal should be done with care.  As America’s leading proposal photography company, Paparazzi Proposals has planned and captured hundreds of proposals across over twenty major cities nationwide.  Planning picture perfect proposal moments and capturing your partner’s reaction, paparazzi-style, is what we do!  Get more information on professional proposal photography by calling 888-287-5120 or filling out the form below.

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This moment only happens once, and you want to make sure it is captured flawlessly, so keep these 12 tips in mind while you search!

Do They Do This Full-Time?

You want a professional to guarantee the quality of your photos.

There are a lot of people who are hobbyist photographers, who have done courses and know how to take pretty pictures, but it may not be their main line of work.

A great way to weed out professionals from amateurs is to give them a call.  If they pick up the phone, you’re golden.  If not, alarm bells should be going off!  Professional photographers are glued to their phones, because that’s how they get news about potential jobs.  Someone who’s serious about what they do will either take your call immediately, or call you back with lightning speed.

Use Google to Your Advantage

Any professional will have a strong online presence, because it is their full-time business.

Searching “best wedding photographer” or “best proposal photographer” in your area actually goes a long way.  It’s going to give you really good gage on who the best and most popular.  Keep an eye out for good reviews on Yelp, Facebook, etc.

Local Knowledge

Your photographer should be giving you advice based on local insight.

Surprise Proposal Photography Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is tourist central. Consulting with a proposal photographer means that you’re more likely to avoid the crowds and get that incredible reaction photo. From Stephen’s surprise proposal.

Meaning: if where you want to propose is close to a school, and you want to do it at 3:00, they should be able to let you know that it will be crowded.  You want a photographer that knows your while your proposal location might be really busy at 3:00, it’s going to be nice and empty an hour earlier. They should have all of the little details that will help you to eliminate any problems.

With our photographers, we recommend meeting the client at the same location, day of the week and time as the scheduled proposal to see what the area looks like.  Not only does this make for better pictures, these extra efforts show that this person is thinking about your proposal, and is not just trying to turn out cookie-cutter work.

Do They Do Their Research?

They should know what’s going on in the city the day that you want to propose.

For example, I’m currently thinking about this Sunday, when there’s going to be about 200,000 people slugging around Central Park after running 26.2 miles.  How would that impact a Central Park marriage proposal?

These are things that you shouldn’t ever have to stress about.  You’re paying top dollar for a photographer.  Make sure its worth the investment by going with someone who is prepared to work out all the logistics.


It’s your engagement, and you want your proposal photographer to work with you, not just tell you what to do! 

Your photographer should be able to give you helpful suggestions, like tips about lighting and the best way to stand. But if you want to do it in a set spot, they’ve got to be able to work around that and they’ve got to be professional enough to make it work no matter what the circumstances.

Body of Work

They may be a great all-around photographer, but are they a specialist in what you’re looking for?

What we’re seeing more and more of is photographers becoming jacks-of-all-trades, but really not becoming professors of one. For example, you wouldn’t hire a product photographer to shoot your wedding, you’d hire a wedding photographer. So when seeking someone to capture your proposal, you should be looking for someone who specializes in proposal photography.

You want a high volume of proposals in their portfolio, with a variety of different locations, poses and photo compositions!

Discreet Style

Do you really want some random guy or girl standing three feet away from you furiously firing off the shutter while you’re trying to drop down to one knee?

The concept of surprise proposal photography is capturing the proposal and the reaction without intruding in on that moment.  Your client’s partner should have absolutely no idea that the photographer is there taking pictures. 

And of course, that reaction has to be reflected in the work. Making sure the moment is uninterrupted is going to create that reaction shot that your partner will want to remember forever.

Highline Proposal Photography

It was awesome to work with George to help him capture his creative Chelsea Highline proposal, which included serenading Chrissy with all of their favorite songs!


 Your photographer may have photographed hundreds of proposals, but are they interested in yours? 

This to me is almost as important as body of work and skill!While they may have done this before,  it’s your first and only time and you want them to convey confidence and enthusiasm.

They have to be excited about exploring your ideas on where to pop the question and why you want that location, so that they can help you get the best outcome!

Number of Photos

What we’ve noticed is people offering proposal photography, but only giving clients about 25 pictures.

If you’ve never met your photographer before, how are they to choose your 25 images?  You should be getting a professionally edited gallery that is reflective of the whole event, which means at least 125 edited photos. We’re not talking crazy, Vogue-cover photoshop, but we are talking basic color correction and making them all look pretty.  You should have some in black and white, some in color for a good variety.

High Quality Images

This means high resolution photos.

You need your photos to be high resolution for good prints.  A lot of photographers may send you photos that aren’t high-res, and then offer high-res photos for an extra cost.  That is daylight robbery, and if they even suggest that, you should walk on to the next photographer.

Quick Turnaround

You don’t want your photographer to spend 15 hours photoshopping  25 images, because that means you’re only getting a small gallery that takes 3-4 weeks to create.

You want to announce your engagement!  You don’t want to sacrifice quality, but you want to make sure you’re getting them 4-5 days after to share with family and friends.  Make sure the turnaround time is in the contract, and that you agree on it.

Back up plans

The best surprise proposal photographer will be able to control just about everything, except the weather.

But they should have a plan for a rainy day. If the weather is looking dodgy on the day, don’t be afraid to ask the photographer to move it around. They want to capture the best possible pictures, so they should be flexible.

If you’re set on the date, your photographer should have enough local knowledge to provide you with back up plans so that you won’t be standing like a drowned rat on the sidewalk getting sprayed by the X39 bus that’s whizzing past.

You Get What You Pay For

For the same reason you don’t go for a cheap wedding photographer, you shouldn’t scrimp and save when it comes to your proposal. 

This is your foot in the door for a mother-in-law on your side, so go with the best quality over the cheapest price!

Pay half price and you’re going to get half the quality.  That’s a general rule of thumb, and though there are some exceptions, going with the cheapest option is often a risk!

If you’re ready to pop the question, contact us today for a free consultation!  Looking for a few marriage proposal ideas before you book your photographer? Check us out on Pinterest and Facebook.  And remember, we’re here to take the stress out of planning and capturing your picture-perfect proposal.