This was one of the first proposals I've ever been a part of. I met Jade and Gabe in high school when they became best friends with my cousin, Jesrelle. During this time, I was still kickstarting my photography and videography business. I was dabbling a lot within the fashion realm but didn't have a portfolio to show to agencies or fashion designers. So, I decided that the only way I was going to build my portfolio was to find a couple of friends who'd be willing to model for me and Jade and Jesrelle were kind enough to let me use them for many of my fashion photography concepts. As soon as I started getting a hang of photography, I began to ask students if they wanted their senior portraits done. This is about the time I met Gabe and he hired me to shoot his senior portraits. After they both graduated high school, Gabe went off to pursue his career in the US Navy as a Sailor, which meant that he would be gone for a very long time and wouldn't be able to communicate very much or at all. And despite his long absence from Jade, I admired how they were still able to maintain a strong relationship despite the distance and lack of communication. They are living examples of what true love looks like because they proved to me that none of those things matter when what you have with your significant other is real.
A few years later, Gabe came to me and Jesrelle with an idea of putting together a surprise proposal for Jade. He decided that he was going to come home a little earlier than he had previously told her but didn't know how to arrange one especially when he's several thousand miles away. So, Jesrelle and I came up with the idea of putting together a fake photoshoot session for Jade and convince her that the photos were going to be used for Urban Outfitters Hawaii. Thankfully, she bought into it!
The day of the proposal was so hectic. I had this grandiose idea of putting up a teepee and mocking a bohemian beach photoshoot but it was EXTREMELY WINDY and it kept falling apart. On top of that, we were so afraid that Jade would find out (we suck at acting cool and keeping secrets) or that Gabe would accidentally cross paths with her as we attempted to transport them to Waimanalo Beachpark separately. So, Jesrelle and I coordinated with our S/O's to hide Gabe in the bushes as we dressed Jade into a "designer" outfit. There was A LOT of back and forth texting between us and the boys, ensuring that everything was timed perfectly. As soon as everything settled down and everyone was in their hiding spots, Jesrelle and I pretended to photograph Jade.
After about 10-15 minutes, Jesrelle turned Jade around and pretended to fix her necklace. I signaled to the boys through text to run Gabe over as quietly and quickly as possible. After what felt like a century of terrible coordination skills, Gabe got down on one knee behind Jade as she continued to fumble with her necklace. I asked Jade to turn around for a photo and as soon as she turned around, she screamed and saw Gabe. She hadn't seen Gabe in almost a year and she was so overwhelmed with emotion that the first thing she said was "Oh my god no get out!"
We were all laughing and screaming in the background as we cheered them on. It was such a beautiful and heartfelt moment shared between the two of them.
A year later, I was given the honor of capturing their fun-filled wedding!
It truly amazes me how my career has given me the opportunity to follow people's lives and journeys as they achieved different milestones. To be a part of such an intimate part of their lives is truly an honor. I've made so many close friends just simply by photographing or filming their senior portraits, graduation, birthday parties and many more events. To witness and watch these families grow and to be there by their side all throughout the years is truly a special kind of relationship I want to be able to build with many more people.