I have been holding on to these surprise engagement photos with Air Maui Helicopters for a while now, as I wanted to give the couple a chance to make their own announcements. Time passed, I got busy with other things and forgot to ever share them. When I came across this gallery today, I knew I had to finally share. Seth had a grand plan for his surprise proposal. He had booked a tour with Air Maui Helicopters for he and his girlfriend, Noelle. He also bought me a ticket on the tour, which would stop on a beautiful remote cliff, where he would pop the question. I was to play photo enthusiast tourist, while secretly capturing the whole thing. I jumped at the opportunity. While this isn’t my focus with photography, I have done many surprise engagements on Maui and was up to the challenge and welcomed something new and exciting. After all, who says no to a helicopter tour. I arrived early and noted some of the details of the location.
Before long, Seth and Noelle showed up. They looked happy in love and I could tell she had no idea. Luckily, Air Maui was in on the whole scheme and made sure to get them loaded first so I could get these shots. While in flight, Air Maui was smart enough to position me behind them, to the right, so it just appeared as if I was shooting the views. I was actually shooting the views, partly for the story line of the photos, partly to not look suspicious, and partly because the views were just awesome.
After an amazing tour of waterfalls I have never seen in 12 years on Maui, we landed on a remote cliff with breathtaking views. The moment was coming. I quickly switched to my zoom lens and played photo enthusiast along with the other members of the flight who were taking photos. Seth and Noelle walked away, as planned and I snapped shots randomly at different angles as to not blow my cover.
Then it happened. He got down on one knee and everyone held their breath. The other tour participants took notice of this as well and while they saw me shooting, they still had no idea that I was hired to be there. She said yes, and everyone let out their breath. A giant smile was glued to my face as I kept snapping away.
By this time, I thought my cover was blown, but it wasn’t until Seth pointed me out that Noelle ever had any idea of the elaborate scheme.
As the other attendants and pilot cheered, shook hands, and congratulated Seth, I geared up for a few photos back inside the helicopter.
Once we landed, Air Maui had champagne waiting for the newly engaged couple. Just when Noelle thought it was over, Seth had more surprises up his sleeve. He had also hired me to come back in the evening to beautiful beach to capture some more controlled engagement photos.
We met at one of my favorite locations in Wailea, Maui (Mokapu Beach) later that evening, after the couple had a chance to celebrate and reflect on the exciting happenings of the day.
A beautiful ring now adorned Noelle’s finger for the beach photo session.
The two were so photogenic and natural together. It was easy. The hard part was over.
It was wonderful of Seth to give Noelle a chance to prepare for photos in addition to the surprise shots. A girl loves to prepare for these things- not to mention the wind on the cliff was a bit intense.
I thank you, Seth for trusting me with such a special day. I definitely felt the pressure as I knew a lot had gone into the planning of this surprise engagement. Fortunately, I perform extremely well under pressure and almost look forward to it- it makes me feel really alive, if that makes any sense. While this won’t become my specialty anytime soon (A fellow photographer acquaintance is already focusing on these), I absolutely loved changing it up and getting to participate in this experience of a lifetime, for both my clients and myself.
Mahalo for reading! – Maui Photographer, Jonelle Littleton