Talk about serendipity! I had been wanting to fly over Charleston in a helicopter for well over a year. This random wish was a result of reading about award-winning combat photographer Stacy Pearsall offering a course to do just this. Throw in my fondness for Gray Malin’s colorful aerial shots of seascapes around the world, my preference for window seats and my love of the Lowcountry’s green marsh mazes, and I knew I had to make it happen. I asked some friends if they wanted to come along and share the fun and expense, but no one would bite. I even suggested a tour to my hubby as a nifty birthday gift idea, but he was worried about my safety. (This, from a man who welds in our garage.) So when Forrest at Lowcountry Helicopters contacted me about shooting two surprise proposals with him a couple of weeks ago, I was giddy. When he filled me in on the details of the highly orchestrated second ride, I was even more fired up!
Get this: Andrew was returning to Charleston on leave from being stationed in Arizona. He wanted to propose to Ashley on a helicopter and colluded with his family to put a bug in her ear that he’d always wanted to ride on a helicopter. Per his plan, she arranged a tour over Charleston as a surprise to her returning soldier. Keep reading below for the full story.
A quick wave through the glass to Ashley’s office, California Dreaming.
As we were flying around taking in the scenery, we approached Folly Beach. Assembled on the sand below were a group of Ashley’s friends with a banner announcing Andrew’s intentions. She was gobsmacked and tearful and so happy! After some weeping and wondering how he managed to surprise her instead, we landed at the airport and she was getting her thoughts together. As the couple exited the aircraft, they were surprised (again!) by family approaching them to share in the celebration. How awesome is that? Sure cuts down all those phone calls you need to make to share the great news. And it definitely made for a special homecoming.
One last surprise: some of their family members were waiting at the airport to celebrate with them!
None of this spectacular scheming would have come together without our stealthy, skilled and personable pilot, Forrest. And selfishly, my only concern about the possibility of feeling ill was a non-issue. It was a smooth ride even without a door on my side (the open air prevented me from having to deal with glare from shooting through it). I happily cruised about under the guise of snapping scenic shots until I turned to capture the proposal. It was such a privilege to witness Andrew’s proposal, Ashley’s tears and the diamond that belonged to a grandmother being gifted to a happy girl. Enjoy the ride, y’all!
I can’t wait to fly around some more. It’s such a great way to see the textures and colors of watery Charleston. I’ll be going back — next time with lots of puffy clouds, cotton candy skies at dusk and when the marsh grass turns a fresh lime green as summer approaches. Marshes make me smile. I hope you’ll share this post and recommend Carolina Photosmith if you or your friends need engagement or wedding photography in 2015. Cheers!