The Portable Portrait workshop has always been about learning how to use your camera and affordable lighting gear to help improve your photography. It's about learning to use flash and not be scared of it. It's about learning to use your camera manually and to start taking control of your images rather than letting your camera do them for you.
And, during the June 21st 2014 workshop, it became about marriage proposals, and love, and tears and happiness.
I've worked and photographed Sinehan many times over the years. I originally met her when she came in for some head shot style images back in 2010
Since then, she has been modeling for me during various workshops over the years, always bringing a smile, good attitude and humor with her.
Exposure examples that led us to one of my most used workshop images. (2010)
A few years ago, she started dating Ryan, who is an on-air host for NHPR
Sinehan and Ryan • 2012
(various images taken during the workshop. Attendees learning how to use off-camera flash and how to adjust their camera settings manually)
June 21st Workshop, 2014
So, cut to a few months before the June 21st workshop, and I get a call from Ryan. He is crazy in love, and he is ready to ask for Sinehan's hand in marriage. But he needs my help. He wants to surprise her by asking her during the June workshop. Surprise! How cool is that? Very. Needless to say, I'm estatic at the idea and we start plotting and scheming away!
Here is how we planned it: around dinner time we would break for supper at a local nearby restaurant. Previously, I gave Ryan the key to my building so that he could let himself in where he will be hiding inside the loading dock area along with his family and some of Sinhan's family. He sends me a text message to let me know he is in place and ready, and I start leading the workshop back towards the building.
There is an alleyway in between the Picker Building (where my studio is) and the the building next to ours. I lead the group into the alley down towards the end. As I'm setting up at the far end of the alley, Ryan has lifted up the loading dock door and waits in hiding.
As I'm setting up this shot, I keep mumbling about how the composition isn't right yet, and I keep backing up, pretending to recompose the shot. I'd stop, look through the camera, pretend like the shot isn't working and I'd keep backing up. As I'm backing up, I'm saying that there just isn't something correct with my composition. As I'm saying this, the workshop students start to position themselves at various places around Sinehan, for multiple coverage points for when the moment happens.
I back myself up all the way down the alleyway to the front of the Picker Building.
Ryan is standing just off to my side. We are separated by the loading dock. Because he is around the corner inside the loading dock, Sinehan can't see him. She can only see me.
Then I exclaim that ideally, the composition I have in mind would be perfect if I had two people in the portrait, at which point I grab Ryan and we begin walking towards Sinehan.
Only Sinehan isn't wearing her glasses. She doesn't recognize Ryan at first.
Finally, when he gets very close, she laughs and realizes it is him. She still doesn't understand what is going on.
Ryan hands her a box with a bow on it.
He gets down on one knee, takes the box and opens it.
As Ryan proposes, we all start taking pictures. Ryan and Sinehan's family start taking pictures. Lots of people are crying. Lots of cameras are going off. It was a little bit crazy.
(The view from the other side. Note all the people taking pictures at this point. Engagement paparazzi!)
There are hugs and handshakes and tissues being handed around and crying and laughter and happiness and celebration. And pictures being taken. And magic taking place. And suddenly Sinehan has a fiance. And it's amazing.
The future Mr. and Mrs. Lessard.
I want to thank Ryan for including me in his plan. I want to wish nothing but love and happiness to them both. I'm so happy I could be part of this little plan and magical moment.
Love, people. Love as much as you can as often as you can. Nothing is more important.