There’s nothing better than a surprise engagement shoot which manages to capture a couple’s loving relationship, and here I was, privileged to be part of a moment that will forever be engrained in two people’s lives.
Hailing from Busselton in WA’s South-West, Maddy and Kyle are known to be quite an eccentric pair; she’s been crowned Miss Ink Australia 2018, and he is a Kiwi who met Maddy while backpacking across the state. An instant connection saw them settle down in Busselton to spend the rest of their days with one another, and when Kyle contacted me to arrange a surprise engagement on the day of their shoot, there was no way I was going to refuse the opportunity.
Maddy had initially been in touch with me for a couple’s shoot, and the three of us had organised to meet at Dunsborough on November 30 (2018) for a day of spontaneous photography just two weeks after her message. Little did she know, however, that Kyle was secretly contacting me in that time to ‘organise a little something special’ – and the last location would be planned.
Our first location, true to form of spontaneity, was bushland while driving around Yallingup, just 12kms south-west of Dunsborough. Hopping out of the car, we spotted a beautiful gravel trail where the couple could link hands and use nature’s beauty to engulf them in their radiance.
The two of them were the epitome of cool in their casual wear, and truly rocked the shoot; Maddy, incidentally, has a modelling career and I found her to be a photographer’s dream subject – she was extremely confident in front of the lens, and after asking where she got the initial interest from, I soon found out it was her sister who had forced her to watch episodes of America’s Next Top Model when she was younger.
As we discovered some quaint off-trail sites, like a stunningly large fallen tree trunk and a showering of bushes that formed an arch, we used them to our advantage and got a barrage of images. With Maddy and Kyle in front of the camera, it was enchanting to capture the unadulterated love and happiness of the couple, and it was a shoot where I aimed not only to grasp the light of the bushlands, but also Maddy and Kyle’s chemistry to perfection.
As we wrapped up and found location two at a random farm, it was a vast contrast from the enclosed rapture of green foliage and trails, to wide open spaces and blue skies coming from all directions. But it was the third and final site, planned by Kyle and myself, at Sugarloaf Rock where the magic really happened.
Known as one of the most photographed coastal landforms in the region, Maddy and Kyle have an abundance of sweet memories at Sugarloaf Rock, and us ‘schemers’ were ready for the moment Kyle would propose to the love of his life (a special note here too, that he and I had quickly met before the day’s shoot without Maddy’s knowledge, so that I would hold on to the ring until the final moment).
As the couple looked out to the iconic Sugarloaf Rock taking in the breeze, the waves, and the scent of the ocean, I captured their closeness and began to feel the anticipation. I was waiting for the right time to ask Maddy to look out at the ocean in a different direction, and as she did so, Kyle and I exchanged the ring in a moment of silence.
I tapped her on the shoulder, and as Maddy turned around, he was down on one knee. The rest, as they say, is history. Her reaction of pure bliss and joy was simply flawless, and to be a part of that memory where two people will look back on for the rest of their lives is a complete honour and privilege.
They were certainly one of the most enjoyable and pleasant couples to have photographed, and as they embark on a working holiday in Canada for the new year, I wish them every success and