I'm fortunate to have a job that allows me to witness and capture some pretty important moments in people's lives - I get to do it a lot, it doesn't get old, nor does the significance fade. But this shoot reminded me of just what an amazing job this really is. Chad, a close friend and fellow wedding photographer asked me to shoot his actual proposal. He planned on proposing at a spot that had his favorite view of the Chicago skyline (being a wedding photographer he knew a thing or two about good locations for photos). The evening before we went out to scout the actual spot, test my hiding place, and go over the final details. Bitter cold, horizontal rain, and massive waves crashing over the spot forced us to turn back before verifying the actual place. We decided on a contingency plan in case the weather was the following evening - I would have to make the call at the last minute when I got out there.
I bundled up, put my gear in its rain covers and headed out. When I got there I met up with a Mehran, a flamenco guitar player that would be playing for them. The weather was a little calmer than the night before, nonetheless there was the occasional wave that crashed over the long pier we had to wait on, and they would have to walk out on. It was time to send the final text message announcing if we were going for the main or alternate location. On one hand the original location was more dramatic, offered better concealment, and most importantly was the spot he had originally envisioned. On the other hand they would have to walk much further into the wind and cold, and the huge waves from the night before didn't seem entirely out of place. What if one crashed at the worst possible time and drenched us all? What it if it washed the ring out of his hand? What if it washed one of us into the lake? (Years of dealing with irreplaceable images have left me the ability to easily imagine the worst possible scenarios.)
The wind seemed to die down ever so slightly, and the tumultuous water seemed to stay mostly below the pier so I sent the coded text message indicating we were going to the original location. As if on cue to make me doubt my decision a giant wave crashed over the pier and soaked Mehran and me, but it was too late they were all ready on their way out. I'll let photos tell the rest of the story:
No waves crashed, a ring was exchanged, and though I couldn't hear them talking I assumed there was a "yes" said before they hurried back to the warmth of his car and continued his carefully planned evening.
Right before leaving I also snapped this photo of Mehran walking back along the lakeshore. He played long after his fingers were numb. Though I know he probably doesn't normally sit out in storms playing his guitar as waves crash over him, he is to me, nonetheless, an icon of a dedicated artist. The sounds of his guitar on that windy evening is the other beautiful memory I hold dear from that night.