Santa Monica Pier Engagement Photos | Matt’s Surprise Proposal to Liza

 Pulling off a surprise wedding proposal can be a challenge. Proposing at a wildly popular engagement spot and getting gorgeous photos of it? That’s a whole new level of game. But we did it!

It’s no secret that the Santa Monica Pier is one of the most photographed spots in California.

The seaside location is iconic, charming, and magical at night when the big ol’ Ferris Wheel

is all lit up. During the daytime, the mountains are also quite a spectacle from the pier.

I also knew that I would have to ask people to move. One of the unglamorous parts of being a photographer is asking small groups of people to move so you can take a photo of your clients at the spot that they want. 

Honestly, I don’t have a problem doing this but of course, it’s not my favorite part of the job. And I don’t think a lot of my clients are very comfortable with it either. A lot of times, they are embarrassed to ask people to move for them, even when I do the asking. 

Luckily, 9/10, people don’t mind moving at all. Unless they are resting, eating, or taking their own photographs. In which case, you have to wait for them to move. When asking people if they could move, just remember to be sweet, be polite, and don’t hog the space for longer than necessary. 

Another challenge about taking photos in a popular place like the Santa Monica Pier is making it look unique. There are hundreds of engagement photos taken on the pier that look almost identical. So how do you make yours different?

As Robert Frost so wisely said, take the road less travelled. 

Avoid the spots where others usually take their photos, spaces where people hang out, walkways, etc. The spot Matt picked had fewer people hanging out so crowd control (so to speak) was almost not needed. 

The background here was also gorgeous. Before the shoot, Matt sent me the kind of shots he wanted. Specifically, he wanted the beautiful mountains in the frame. This made my job so much easier because when I got on the pier, I knew exactly what I was looking for! I was able to set up properly and plan my shots as I waited for the couple to arrive.

After Matt popped the question and got down on one knee, their friends opened a bottle of champagne for everyone to share. The bubbly was a great way to set the mood for the rest of the shoot. Here are my favorite photos from the day:


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