Posted on
July 21, 2012
Written by
Maurice Ramirez

(Captain Ryan Corey circles the newly-engaged couple.)


Popping the question is beautiful, nerve-wracking thing. Pulling it off creatively takes vision plus a bit of cloak-and-dagger work. While it’s challenging to photograph while imitating a sniper, the event’s gravity and emotion begs to be captured for posterity.

Months ago, Brian collected Jenna’s fave designs from her Etsy profile and had Wexford Jewelers mold a thusly inspired custom engagement ring with salvaged diamonds and meteorite. Different enough, right?

Apparently not quite. Brian planned a hike for Jenna at the Carmel Valley Ranch and arranged with Specialized Heli to land a helicopter at the end of the trail to take them on a tour of Big Sur.

With the meteorite ring, venue and surprise helicopter in place, he needed a photographer to document it all without ruining the surprise. That’s when I got the call. (Its an honor to have been referred by my talented colleague and friend Tony Hoffer).

Days before the proposal, I coordinated with Will of Carmel Valley Ranch and Captain Ryan Corey of Specialized Heli on approach vectors, flight times, and shot angles. All that went out the window thanks to unpredictable Bay Area weather.

On P-Day Captain Ryan called me saying the fog was coming in too quickly so the helicopter couldn’t happen. This had to happen. We told Brian to move everything up an hour, and then we ran up the hill and breathlessly dove into any hiding spots that would give us a clear view without being seen through the branches. (One week later I’m still itching from poison oak and bathing in Tecnu with no regrets).

The Huff n’ Puff trail at the Carmel Valley Ranch has stunning views, so lots of distractions. Jenna and Brian get to the clearing, Brian drops to one knee and proposes, and Jenna accepts. Emotions flowing as he breaks out her favorite champagne to celebrate and watch the fog roll in. I crawl out from under the bushes to introduce myself and let Ryan know that Jenna said yes, and to come get us. I’ve always wanted to call in the chopper. I’m about to realize that seeing the magnificent Big Sur coast from a helicopter should be on anyone’s life list as well.

As we buzz past mountaintops and deserted beaches toward the ocean, I photograph them both just taking it all in. Everyone’s grinning. I hear giggling between headset squawks.

Brian dreams big, and Jenna’s radiant smile says it all.

My faves:



Jenna’s meteorite and diamond engagement ring by Wexford Jewelers

Special thanks to Specialized Helicopter in Monterey and especially Capt. Ryan Corey for beating odds on that fogbank.
Hiking and helicopter landing area courtesy of Carmel Valley Ranch, with site scouting by Will Schaeffler.

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