Can I make a confession? When I was starting out as a portrait photographer, the thought of shooting in the dark was about on the same level as a dentist visit in terms of comfort. As a portrait photographer, you can schedule your sessions to be in the optimal light, and re-schedule if something changes. One of the biggest differences when you make the leap to weddings is there isn't a re-schedule option. You have to be ready to shoot any time, in any condition (including low/no light or rain). This means using artificial light, and folks, I wasn't a fan in the beginning. You can honest to goodness ask my husband how many hours I spent wailing about having to learn flash, and off-camera flash, and how I hated it. But, it was necessary to shoot weddings (which I love) and so reader, I conquered the flash.
Why is this relevant? Years later, on December 2nd, 2018 to be exact, I found myself ready to shoot a Century Tree proposal on a Sunday afternoon. I've shot many, and they feel fairly routine. Routine went out the window when poor Ben texted me and let me know their car had broken down as they were driving from San Antonio. At that moment, I was VERY glad to be able to tell Ben "No problem. I'm ready to shoot in the dark when you get here!". What's even better is that I actually meant it.
After a mad dash to charge up flash batteries (I don't normally charge them except for wedding days), I headed to campus with a bit more equipment than usual. The equipment list included a battery-powered Christmas garland, because there isn't anything that can't be made better with twinkle lights.
Ben had told Casey he wanted to stop on campus to grab some acorns from the Century Tree, in order to grow his own. I had given him this idea because I'm a fan of the Century Tree Project, which grows saplings from the acorns and funds scholarships with the profits. Armed with this excuse, he was able to get her to the Century Tree without suspicion. I was hiding in the leaves and waiting for the right moment to jump out with my lights (since I thought that might give it away just a little).
The rest is routine. He said sweet things. She said yes. A diamond was exchanged. But then, we even took some portraits in the dark!
Ben and Casey, I love your story. Thank you for letting me be a part of it! And I hope you are able to grow a little sapling with your acorns.