Creeping around the streets with someone else's boyfriend was essentially how my week in Paris began...
I first met Chris in a quiet area in the 3rd Arrondissement. We had video chatted the month before, but with me in Florida and Chris in Jersey there was only so much planning and guessing we could do when it came to finding a "crowdless spot" ... in Paris... SPRINGTIME in Paris.
(Yeah... like when the cherry blossom trees are in bloom, and tourists flock like storks.)
Chris told me that he'd been accused of never being romantic. So this was his shot...
He and his girlfriend Gloria had planned a trip to Paris, and very (VERY) unbeknownst to Gloria... Chris was packing a ring. He booked a photographer (I enter the scene) and he lets me know that he's going to surprise his bride with the photos on their wedding day.
I did some location scouting on the Tuesday, fresh (not fresh) off the plane. With two hours til check in, and the fog of jet lag overpowered by giddy "I'm in Paris" feels. The following day Chris and I took a brisk walk just after sunrise to the spots I had found. We mapped out where I would wait the next morning.
Then armed with some sunglasses, hooded jacket, and a prayer... we hoped that Gloria wouldn't notice this stranger taking photos of them for an hour.
(I documented this on my Instagram highlights.)
I took a real decent amount of decoy pigeon and rusty pipe shots. Just to throw her off. I walked in front of them, and as we arrived at THE spot I heard her say "wow!" Yessss we made the right choice on location.
I was under strict instruction that after he proposed I should only come up to say "oh hey! I saw you got engaged and I took this ONE photo! I'll text it to you."
I see Chris give me our secret 30 second warning signal. I line myself up, framing my shot...still in the guise of a tourist.
The courtyard was empty (bar me, and one applauder in the corner.) Gloria jumped about 8 feet back. Genuine shock. Just witnessing it made my hairs stand on end. I delivered my line, I exited the scene.
5 minutes later...
"I caved, I told her about you. She wants to see you later." A text from Chris lit up my phone.
Relief washed over. I couldn't just witness this and walk away into the belly of Paris with no one to share it with!
From there I was able to hear Gloria's side and share all our planning stories with her, as she continued to recover from the shell shock of the proposal.
We spent the rest of the day perusing the tables of a thrift market chock full of dusty antiquities where Chris (a chef) found a set of spoons. He waved them across the courtyard to another rather rude vendor who tried to rip him off at the beat of 5 euro for a rusty old spoon. With camera in tow I captured the day, without trying to intrude or interrupt their experiences.
From the stops for wine, and the cheese tasting breaks. The atmosphere was so beautifully Parisian. Like how I imagine it in the early 1900's. Emphatic displays of love in the street. Good company. Good cheese.
It was so Paris. Unconventionally. Lacking all the cliché.
I LIVE for these moments, guys. The genuine reactions, the moments that make your gallery uniquely yours. Ask me if a single one of these was posed... I dare you.
Disclaimer: maybe... MAYBE... the pigeon posed.
From back home in Florida,
"That's a pose-y pigeon right there" - my husband
Planning a proposal? Need a photographer? Let's do it!