Couple on Hastings beach

Rob called me from Pennsylvania with an idea – would I be able to photograph his actual marriage proposal to his partner Holly – of course I jumped at the chance…

I often get calls from companies trying to sell me stuff and Rob’s number came up as a code from the US so I waited to hear if there was a message. After several missed calls I thought “go on then”, answered and to my surprise Rob’s accent sounded local.

He hadn’t left a message as he didn’t want me to have to call back and incur the international charges and he said this was his last try – I was so glad I picked up. Rob and Holly would be in the UK for a week and his idea was to propose to Holly on the beach in Hastings and have me photograph the moment, which he himself thought was a little crazy. I thought is was a great idea, especially as Rob’s elderly mum lives in Hastings and taking the pictures would give her a set of unique memories. He also wanted Holly to be unaware of what we were up to until the pictures were ready. We talked about the dates he would be here and arranged for him to come over to the studio for a chat about ideas, times and best possible locations.

I love being part of a plan and together we decided on an area of the beach with the Pier as a backdrop; we were able to pin down an evening when the tide would be low and the forecast was promising. I also had to work out how to be on the beach with them and not be spotted by Holly or at least not draw her attention.

On the evening of the shoot Rob let me know where they would cross the road to the beach so I could be waiting. It felt like something out of a spy movie as they walked past within a couple of feet of where I was sitting before I casually followed them onto the beach from a safe distance.

To get the pictures I had to balance being far enough away to avoid raising suspicion whilst being close enough to capture the moment from the best available angles. All went well and it felt a more than a little strange to finish the shoot and just walk away! Rob came round the next day to choose the images he liked best and a couple of days later, after editing and processing, brought Holly round too – she was really pleased and we’d pulled it off!

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