Whether inspired by tenderhearted sentiment, the desire to record history in the making or something more narcissistic, some marriage-minded men are remaking one of humanityâ€™s most private moments into one that can be instantly shared with family, friends and even, thanks to the Internet, virtual strangers. They are conspiring with photographers who, with all the stealth of covert operatives, lurk in crowds, behind bushes and in the darkened recesses of restaurants to capture the delighted, unposed reaction of the fiancÃ©e-in-the-making.
Over the last four years, Terry deRoy Gruber, a New York photographerÂ and his team of photographers, who charge $500 and up for these sessions, have clandestinely snapped proposals on the Lincoln Center Plaza after the opera; masqueraded as tourists in public places; and hidden in the wings of a cavernous and empty (save two) restaurant rented for the occasion by a prospective bridegroom, cameras concealed behind black cloth, the sounds of the shutters obscured by the clatter of dishes.
Still, the idea of being secretly photographed at a traditionally private moment can be unnerving to some women.
â€œI thought it was a little stalkerish to know that this person was following you to get these great pictures,â€ said Briana King, of the secret photo session in December 2004 that Christopher Joralemon, now her husband, arranged with Gruber Photographers. A crew armed with telephoto lenses and dressed like tourists trailed the couple, who were on a stroll through Central Park â€” ostensibly to attend a holiday brunch â€” where theyâ€™d met at a dog run seven months earlier. â€œBut the end product was good,â€ Ms. King said. â€œIt was a little weird but definitely worth it.â€