Proposal Night Photography
We LOVE Night Photography But What About for Proposals?
How Capture a Proposal at Night
If you have stumbled upon this post and want to propose at night as it would be more romantic we love the idea. You might be thinking of something like the image above with you down on one knee. If you want to hire a photographer to shoot the proposal we would recommend you read on to make an informed decision. If you want a night proposal with photography you are essentially asking for getting high quality photos of a emotional sporadic candid moment without the photographer interfering in the key moment that will forever change you life. This is likely no fault to you as you are not a professional photographer but the thing missing from that expectation is the most important thing for photography . . . Light.
Ideas on How to get Light
- String Lights. We hear this the most often and normally the guy is thinking of using a strand of 100 lights that are powered on a couple AA batteries. We are not faulting the idea cause string lights can be a decent supplement to make for a really cool romantic look but we are thinking you will need about 1500 string lights in a condensed space powered by standard receptacle outlets to pull this off. If it were the bigger bulbs you could get away with less but the key idea is you will need more than you think and still you would not have enough. With proposals this means an elaborate setup and increased cost with power limitations. For those reasons we would recommend avoiding the string light route unless you live in a place where the sun does not shine.
- Street Lights. We hear this one less often as we think people have tried to take photos on their phone and have failed. These lights are normally for safety, creating a mood and giving you just enough light to be able to see in the dark. These lights are normally above or beside you so they create harsh shadows. As every street is different we will only say that they are almost always not enough. Either way you still would need to fill light in to get sharp images and fill in the shadows.
- Fire. Campfires would likely be a most popular idea in the flame category and can certainly add a warm glow to you. As the theme goes you would need to have something big enough that you fear for your life and burn down most of Colorado. Fireworks are likely the most romantic of a feel yet unless the photographer is laying at your feet lighting you from the front you cannot capture the look. Burning sparklers can be cool but are not enough light and there is then the short duration of them and the open issue of how do you light them all at the same time.
- Special Events / Concerts. This is likely the first idea with some possibility. The problem with this is that if the event has enough light to propose in at night that means it has enough people to warrant having the lighting. Proposing in larger groups or more populated areas is normally not the best idea as it might make her feel uncomfortable, pressured to say yes, or distract her from the significance of the moment. Light could also be sporadic in these scenarios so we would want to use some supplemental flash lighting or spotlight style which could work depending on the nature of the event. The difference here is what could work and what we would recommend based on our experience.
- Flash or Constant Lighting. There are a lot of different sources but the idea is the photographer lights you up. The perk is you get the images you would want but the cost is being distracting from the moment. If you see a flash of light at random at night your eye is drawn to it. Picture yourself outdoors and then the sky lights up with lighting out of no where. You by default look and if there is a lot of lightning you eventually can tune it out. If not that imagine getting a blinding light shining on you that does not go away. LEDs or Halogen – it is all the same kind of distracting thing. We believe it is distracting enough that it undermines the whole purpose of why someone would hire a photographer to capture the proposal – to get the real emotion of the moment making it more special. We would estimate that the emotion is cut in half when she knows photos are being taken of her. If it is were a photoshoot with a proposal in it then this route could certainly work. Really for night photography a planned night photoshoot is really in our take the only option to get you the quality you would want. The downside is the photographer in that case is known and not hidden. If you need to use this kind of lighting though and were hidden in a dark corner know that you would no longer be hidden.
What Proposals are like Without Light
So you found a photographer who says they can do it at night with one of the options above being enough? We would recommend you ask for the full resolution photos of what they have gotten in the past. Our belief is that they either do not have it or that the photo would not be acceptable in quality due to blur, noise, or the limited number of low emotion images. If you read the options 1 through 4 above our hope is that you might gather that something could work if taken to the extreme but that there is a lot of risk introduced. From a photographers perspective unless we are providing the light source for the photo through something like a flash there is no control or predictability. It is essentially shooting with no light.
Examples of Night Photography with no Light
Most photographers are not using the latest and best professional cameras. The market is full of people who are ‘photographers’ who do not understand lighting and use consumer grade equipment with off brand lenses. If you like these examples below know that they were taken on the just released Nikon D850 at 25600 ISO using a Nikon 105mm at F/1.4 with a 1/100th of a second shutter speed under the supplemental lighting you would get in most night scenarios. Our enthusiastic dog Bokeh did not move for the photo but any movement would cause focus issues and blur. We took the photos on this setup to show the best case scenario if you proposed to a girl in complete shock she did not move. If you are a Nikon hater know that in Canon the current best case scenario would be using a 85mm at F/1.2 on the Mark IV. Lots of tech stuff but just know you would not get this in a photo as the one thing we know about proposals is that if it is a YES she will have a lot of movements. Hands to the face, bended knees, step back, step forward, fall down to the ground, jumping around . . . You get the idea.
Cropped in Example
If the image above looks awesome to you know that this is the best you could ever get in a night photo with no light. Technology will advance but the principle remains that you cannot make light out of darkness and photography is all about lighting. To give you a comprehensive look into the image quality we cropped in so you can see the grain and noise from shooting at a high ISO. This allowed us to get down to 1/100th of a second to take the photo. In photography there are trade offs but in low light the best case scenario is a lens that opens up as much as possible (low f stop or f/#.#) and a higher ISO (light sensitivity) to get your shutter speed to be faster.
Night Photography Options Summary
As you are reading this there is good news – you have options! Fixing the above kind of photos in editing really is not one of the options. The nature of digital art is that you could always fabricate something in photoshop but you have to have a starting place. The other non option that could be tossed out there is to redo the photo with the proper lighting. While that is always an option to fake it we believe that defeats the whole purpose of having a photographer to catch the raw natural you emotion. Outside of that we recently saw a photography team (plural) do this because they somehow messed up 10 feet away from the couple. This made the proposal lose a lot of class and emotion but unfortunately we think it is how a lot of those proposals are done when everything looks so perfect. So assuming you want the real candid emotion so you can relive the amazing moments when your life forever changed here are what we see as the options:
- Get unusable photography from someone who tells you they can make light out of darkness. We will comically call this the God complex. While we believe in being confident there are rules of nature. If you shoot pictures in the dark with no useable light they will look dark and like junk.
- Do a planned photoshoot with a proposal in the middle of it with someone who can shoot night photos. This is a good option if you are wanting it in the dark for whatever reason. If you are doing it in Colorado know that the best place would be something like downtown Denver as you have the natural ambient background light.
- Propose during the day when you can get photos like you see on our website. This is overall what we would recommend as we love to do highly predictable low risk proposal photography that captures the real emotion.