Proposal Hunting: The New Photography Trend
In many North American forests, your chances of getting the perfect nature shot are just as high as finding a couple getting engaged.
Due to the rising romantic appeal of the great outdoors, thousands of photographers have begun flocking to the woods, not to capture flora and fauna in their natural habitat, but to practice their engagement photo chops. While in the past, photographers have relied on requests from friends and family for engagement shoot opportunities, many have shifted their methods to the game hunters who share similar spaces.
The result is the absolutely horrible term “love stakeout”, referring to when a photographer sets up their equipment in a strategically-chosen spot, and waits for a couple to come along on their cute hiking date. With any luck, one of the poor, romantic saps will take a knee, unwittingly signaling the photographer to take the shot. After capturing the beautiful moment, the photographer will then emerge from the bush, and offer the candid shots of their momentous occasion for a reasonable fee. This, known as “the negotiation phase”, is regarded by many professionals as the most difficult part of the endeavor. Once services have been either exchanged for payment or refused on the grounds of “that’s super creepy, we were just about to bone,” the photographer will move to a new, hopefully equally-advantageous location, and repeat the process until sundown.
We asked Joshua Bluntson, who recently transitioned his photography career into proposal hunting, how this new method benefits working photographers. “The hard part about the old method is that you only know so many people in relationships, and you know that only a handful of those people will actually get engaged. But in the forest, there’s a staggering selection of random strangers who had the bright, unique idea to pop the question in the woods. The best days are when you can set up on one side of a lake or a nicely-hidden cliff next to another cliff, and they just come one after the other. Obviously, there are new challenges. Not everyone wants to buy the pictures, some people call for the park ranger, and some don’t even accept the proposal. Honestly, those are some of the best photos I’ve ever taken.”
Proposal hunting has not gone without criticism, of course. Photographers and hikers alike have called the trend “A tedious waste of time”, “ethically questionable at best”, and “reverse blackmail”. Only time will tell, however, whether this trend will have any effect on the frequency of forest proposals, or if proposal hunting is truly the future of engagement photography.