My Unique Proposal Through a Lens

My Unique Proposal Through a Lens

After dating for more then 2 years and having some of the best years of my life the time came to propose to my girlfriend. I knew I wanted something intimate, original / unique and true to who we are. I had the idea to use a vintage camera and tripod as part of the proposal. Then the experimenting began to find the best way to incorporate this.

My first idea was to use a macro lens and extension tubes to allow me to write a message in front of the lens. After trying several lenses and different length extension tubes I ended up with a hideous Frankenstein monster. I could not use this setup; it was so ugly she would definitely know something was up.

I still hadn't figured out the best way to use the camera, and the date I had set was around 3 weeks away. I needed to find the closest distance at which the camera could focus on the writing. But why did I have to do this through the lens? I quickly wrote some words on a small piece of white paper and placed it inside the camera on the bottom of the viewfinder prism. Bingo, it worked!

I scoured through my junk drawer and found a pack of iphone screen protectors. I wrote "Marry Me" on the transparent film then carefully cut out a square smaller than the prism in the camera. I peeled the backing off, placed the sticky side to the bottom of the prism inside the camera, I held it up to the light and was amazed.

photo (1)


Last Sunday I packed up the car and headed east out to the vineyards in Long Island. We had fallen in love with Duck Walk Vineyards a couple years ago, and I knew this would be a great place to pop the question. We walked out through the field of vines while I drank my wine as fast as possible. I set up the old tripod and camera to face down one of the rows. The sky was amazing and the overcast lighting was going to make this perfect.

Duck Walk Vineyard Proposal

After setting everything up I pocketed the ring and went in front of the camera. I asked Cara to focus the camera on me so we could take a photo together. I dropped to one knee and pulled the ring out as she looked through the camera. After many "Oh my God"s and "is this for real?"s, she accepted. She was more excited than I had imagined.


A picture of the viewfinder Cara looked through as I dropped to one knee. {A picture of the viewfinder Cara looked through as I dropped to one knee.} {1920's single diamond filigree engagement ring. Purchased in Cara's college town of Ann Arbor, MI.}


I had decided weeks before I did not want any photos taken of the moment. We were both a mess and wanted it to be something we would only share together, forever. Trust me I will not forget the moment. We are going to have the camera engraved with the date and location, and it will always be a decor piece in our home.

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Nicholas gonzalez's picture

Congratulations to you both! What a wonderful story! Absolutely beautiful!

Tim Kauger's picture

Very creative! Congrats to you both.

Richard B Flores's picture

Congrats Jerrit!!

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

thank you, and the same to you as well!

Kyle Sanders's picture

Congratulations! I imagine you guys know a few good wedding photographers, eh? Camera bags make a great place to stash a ring and a presentation box, and dropping down to one knee to "get a different lens" is pretty unsuspicious!

Noam Galai's picture

Congrats. Great set up and location!

Tam Nguyen's picture

Nice writeup man. Congratz to you and whatsherface :)

Jaron Schneider's picture

This is so awesome. All the good marriage proposal ideas are going to be taken before I ever get a chance to use one!

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

I will rent you the camera, however I know you are a canon shooter.

Jaron Schneider's picture

Believe it or not, I learned on a Nikon FTN. So my blood isn't entirely tainted ;)

Tam Nguyen's picture

No one will marry you.

Mārtiņš Eglītis's picture

Congrats! I'm very happy for you both, great idea ;)

Douglas Sonders's picture


... i mean congrats

Christopher Sztybel's picture

Admiral Sonders?

Christopher Mims's picture

Its nice that you will have the camera and tripod to remember it, till the 17 kids you will have knock it over and break it. haha ha

Taylor Mathis's picture

Congrats Jerrit!

Zach Sutton's picture

Very clever. Congrats Jerrit.

Jon Woodbury's picture

What a wonderful proposal! It had all the important elements. Congratulations!

Bob Bell's picture

Top marks! All the best to you both :)

Jason Parks's picture

That's awesome, congrats!!!

Mike Nelson's picture

Congratulations! Such an awesome way to propose

On a side note, I just picked up an FTN with a 50mm f/1.4 lens at a garage sale in perfect condition for $10. Definitely one of the best purchases I've made

JP Zajackowski's picture

Congrats! Very awesome idea! Brings together your two loves in life, and there's a very nice memento afterwards that'll remind the two of you of the day.

John James's picture

Tears in the corner of my eyes.... so romantic

Sissy Stough's picture

Sweet, Great find on the ring!!! I'm sure she adores it !!!!

Mark Zimmerman's picture

Very cool! My wife developed her "proposal" print in a tray of developer!

simon munch's picture

Good Choise using a Nikon, build your maried on that foundation. build like a tank, never lets you down, you can put all your trust to it, it can get scrates but it wont break, and even in bad weather..... it will still let you use it.... Nikon = Love.. Love = Nikon.
gratz to you both

John White's picture

being a photographer and proposing just keeps getting more and more challenging -__- *hides from girlfriend

sikdave's picture

Congratulations!!! Very unique, what a brilliant way to do it! Well done sir.

Shela Betty Luján Ramírez's picture

A great idea..!! :) congra..!!

lexpaul's picture

congratulations... very creative way to proposal...

Vikki Geary's picture

Amazing idea and stunning pictures! Congratulations :)

Stephan's picture

With best wishes sent from my log cabin up north in Quebec, Canada. Nice story :-)

MattZink's picture

This is brilliant. It really is. Not only is it simple, it is creative. It is a small gesture with a massive impact. So well done. And I can't overemphasize this enough - props to you both for not snapping any pictures/videos during this. Props to you for being in the moment. So important to be in the here and now for these big moments.

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

Thanks Matt, I really wanted this moment for us, we were overwhelmed with emotion and the idea of having someone capture this just seemed wrong. But before and after is free game! :p

MattZink's picture

Legit - before and after IS fair game, but I'm relieved to hear that some folks realize that some moments CAN'T be captured - esp. cool wisdom from a photographer.

Christopher Mims's picture
Tony Pérez Martínez's picture

Congratulations! That was a very nice, authentic and original wy of proposing.

Ray King's picture

congrats! Great story

Adrian Spencer's picture


Random question, what Pinterest plugin do you use to get that pop up on your images?

Jens Marklund's picture

My first thought was that you wrote it on the focus screen.

Marty's picture

How romantic.Congratulations!