It was the afternoon and I was hiding behind some bushes at a local winery waiting for my cue. Many people walked by me with questioning looks on their faces. I had my long lens on and I was in full ninja photography mode. What was I doing? Who was my target? Why was I there? I placed one finger over my lips with a quiet shhhhhhh, as I turned around and continued on my mission. I am focused and in my element. I was going to make sure this moment was perfect.
One week before my secret mission I got a phone call from a mother and her son Clayton. It was his girlfriend Amanda's birthday. He was treating her to a day of wine tasting, but at the last winery, he had an extra birthday surprise. One that sparkled in the sunlight and required him to get down on one knee. I was all in on Mission Cabana Surprise. We then came up with the perfect plan. He was going to make the reservations at the winery for a private cabana with Amanda. I was then going to activate Mission Cabana Surprise.
I got to the winery early and checked in with the staff to see which cabana would be the birthday's girls. I checked out all the perfect locations around the cabana. Phase one of my mission was to secretly catch moments of them before the proposal. They got to the cabana and settled in while I excitedly waited in the bushes. As soon as I saw Clayton pour the light gold Chardonnay into two glasses and hand one to Amanda, phase two of my mission was activated.
I made my way to the closest cabana. Explaining to the wonderful wine enthusiasts inside that I was part of a big surprise. They were all very excited for the happy couple. I snapped a few random photos of them and then moved on to the next cabana. I did this to blend in. We wanted to keep the moment of the proposal a complete surprise. She would know something was up if I walked over to them first. If Amanda saw me taking photos of every cabana then she wouldn't even think twice when I approached their cabana and asked for a photo.
"Hey, guys I am here with the winery taking a few pictures today would you like one of the two of you?" Amanda looked at Clayton not sure if they should get a photo. I asked, "Are you two celebrating or here for fun?" This question got her talking about her birthday and how fun it's been. I suggested a birthday photo to remember the moment. Amanda agreed a birthday photo would be a great idea saying "Why not" as they stood up and walked over to me.
I did a little posing. I wanted to make sure they were in the cabana doorway. I wanted to make sure Clayton would have enough room and that the photos would be perfectly lit in the afternoon light. I snapped a few pictures of them smiling and that was Clayton's queue to drop down onto one knee and you know the rest. That moment was filled with all the good feelings and all the cabanas there were feeling it.
Phase three of my mission was to capture the surprised looks, the happy tears, the waiting face, and the joyful YES! We then did a few photos with the two of them and the new ring, which fit and was gorgeous. Good job Clayton! That was the queue for their family to come flooding over from behind the same bushes I was originally hiding in. They had been there the whole time patiently waiting and watching. The final phase of my mission was to wrap up this beautiful story with family hugs and congratulatory pats on the back
With Mission Cabana Surprise over, I gave them both a big hug and a heart-filled congratulations. Thank you Clayton and Amanda for allowing me to be a part of your special moment. I will forever look back on that day and get a warm fuzzy feeling. This is why I do what I do and wonderful people like you two are why I love every minute of it.
I am always eager to take on new missions so keep your eyes and ears open you might be encountering my next ninja photography assignment.