Allison + Mike’s Surprise Engagement in Yosemite

I know I never write much in my blog posts, but this one is a story I just have to share. My good friend Laura Grier grew up with Mike in Virginia but would be in Antartica during this trip, so she referred me to help him out with this and of course, I accepted! Yosemite in the fall? Surprise proposal? Yes, please!

Mike was planning on proposing to his girlfriend Allison on a Yosemite trip and wanted to pop the question on or near “the ledge” (infamously dangerous rock cliff looking over the Yosemite Valley at Glacier Point). He was planning on setting up a phone to capture the event but then decided to go the whole 9 and hire a professional photographer to capture it instead. After talking with Mike and meeting up a few times to collect Allison’s clothing and leather jacket, as well as a shopping trip to Target to pick up some makeup (so he didn’t have to risk getting caught after her daily makeup and hair tools go missing), Mike and I planned a very sneaky and organized engagement trip to Yosemite!

The thought, the planning, and work Mike put into this were probably just a tad more impressive than the Glacier Point view itself. Since he’d be getting on bended knee after their 4-hour hike from Yosemite Valley to the top of the world (ok fine, California), he discreetly went to her house when she wasn’t home and packed several outfits and shoes for her, even her favorite leather jacket, as well as went to Target where we went shopping for some makeup and hair brushes and stuff so she could change out of her hiking clothes afterward and do a more “formal” shoot after he pops the question. We even exchanged texts and photos on outfit and makeup options. A lot of planning went into this! I was impressed, needless to say. The plan was for he and I to meet up and carry all of this in my car so we have it on-hand on the big day.

I convinced my fiance to drive up to Yosemite with me and help me shoot it. After our five or so hour drive, we made it to Glacier Point. I had never been there before, so I was a little anxious about finding THAT spot known as “the ledge” which I heard was “off limits” but not inaccessible. I wanted to make sure I could find it, that it was indeed accessible, and relatively safe to be near. There are stories of hikers and tourists actually falling to their deaths due to selfies gone wrong so we had to play it safe.

The whole plan went off without a single hitch! It could not have gone better! We managed to text a little bit so he could let me know when they’ve arrived, what the crowd situation looked like, etc. They arrived at a sweet spot overlooking Half Dome where they had a quick lunch first (how adorable are they with their sandwiches?!). Mike knew the sun was setting behind the trees really fast, faster than we had originally planned for (yikes!), so it was very brief. After that, the plan was to head over to the proposal spot and convince Allison out to the tip for the views. Once they made it out onto the infamous “forbidden” ledge area, Mike and I exchanged a few sneaky smiles and gave a quick thumbs-up. It was ON! Despite Allison seeing me take a photo of them with a zoom, she had no idea this was happening! She just assumed I was another tourist capturing the epic views. Once the timing was perfect, Mike carefully balanced himself enough on this slanted rock several thousands of feet above sea level, got on bended knee, and popped the question! He presented Allison with a custom engagement ring so shiny, I could see it glistening all the way over from the pathway through my zoom lens. It was all perfect! The lighting, the scenery, the moment. Everything. I couldn’t hear anything they were saying, but you could definitely see it and feel it. Once the cat was out of the bag, he pointed over to me and my second shooter and confessed he had hired photographers to capture this as well as bring her wardrobe to her. What a guy! For the rest of the day, we took advantage of the views, used whatever sunlight we had left, and had a great time capturing these two newly engaged individuals.

We planned for the more formal portrait session for the following day where we spent a few hours down in the GORGEOUS Yosemite Valley where every pocket of that place was photo-worthy. The colors, the leaves falling, the glowy sunlight gleaming through the trees, the rock formations, the cliffs….all of it!!! There are simply not enough hours in the day.

Fun fact: After having Adrian be a “leaf wrangler” and recreate all the beautiful leaves naturally falling so gracefully, we took a short break while they did their outfit change. During this time, a very EPIC breeze came through and it was just a BLIZZARD of leaves, more beautiful than what we spent 30 minutes recreating. I was sure it would stick or another gust of wind would come through again and sure enough, the second breeze came through, just snowing yellows leaves everywhere. I shouted at them to come back and the second they came running back to the same spot, the wind and the leaves stopped. I was sure it happen again, so we waited. And waited. And after about 20min we gave up, totally heartbroken. Well, sort of heartbroken, like for a minute. We were too consumed with the overall beauty of Yosemite and carried on happily.

Mike and Allison are amazing. They have such a great sense of humor, they have that #RelationshipGoals type of chemistry, they’re playful with each other, they laugh together – their love is very real! They’re also complete PROS at posing. Half the time, I was just capturing whatever they felt like doing. I’d put them into a basic pose, and then they added flair and took it to a whole new level! Needless to say, that made the entire shoot very very easy! We totally vibed with them too, as Laura said we would. She’s good at pairing people like that. Mike and Allison are talented musicians, and Adrian (my fiance) is also a musician, plus I photograph music and musicians and have basically all musician friends, so there’s that. I think they fit my brand perfectly: “rock ‘n‘ roll zest with soft traditional undertones”. SCORE!

Check out their websites here:

Mike + Allison

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