Emmalaine and I had been following each other on Instagram after being inspired by each other’s photography work (LOVE THE INTERNET!)  I was looking for someone to photograph my family while we were vacationing in Hawaii and was overjoyed to find out that Emmalaine and her girlfriend Maddy were going to be on The Big Island during the same dates! We arranged to trade sessions and a few weeks before our trip, she messaged me to ask how comfortable I would be if she turned her session into a surprise proposal (um… NO BRAINER, let’s DO this!)

They were staying at an Air B&B close to a beach that might as well have been a private one because the entrance was tucked between two houses on a busy road and I wouldn’t have noticed it was there if I didn’t know about it ahead of time. There was no one on the white sand and lava rock beach the entire time we were shooting there, which was incredible.

Emmalaine and I had talked on the phone a few days before and hashed out our plan for how we could pull this off. After I arrived at their Air B&B, we walked to the beach together chatting about life, their traveling and photography. Emmalaine was carrying her camera backpack which she said wouldn’t be weird to Maddy since she brought it with her everywhere. In her bag was THE RING (eep!).

I had to think quick in order to get the ring from the bag. I told them to walk out to a far point on the lava rocks and that I would carry the backpack. While the walked ahead, I quickly grabbed the ring box and stuffed it into my camera bag without them noticing (talk about stressful moment!) We shot for awhile on the rocks and then walked along to the sand. Emmalaine dropped the hint (that we discussed on the phone previously) that she wanted to recreate a pose she had seen another photographer do. I explained how the pose was going to work and asked Maddy to turn around while Emmalaine ran up behind her to pick her up and shower her with kisses. I positioned myself with my camera and waited.

Instead of running, Emmalaine walked up slowly, got down on one knee and tapped Maddy’s back. When Maddy turned around, she Saw Emmalaine gazing hopefully at her while holding out her dream ring and Maddy knew she had be duped in the best way possible. There were hugs, and laughs, and tears shed (both theirs and mine) as Emmalaine read the most touching letter to Maddy recapping their history as a couple and all the reasons why she loved Maddy and how she knew that what they have was the forever kind of real deal. After more hugs and photos, the sun started to go down and we got some more intimate photos while the tide crept in, ending the evening soaked in salt water and sweet love.

From the photographer, Sydney Pearce

Equality-minded wedding vendor

Photographer: Cast + Forge Photography