This was such a fun idea for a surprise marriage proposal in Myrtle Beach. Geoff contacted me a few weeks before his proposal. He wanted to surprise his girlfriend but he wanted to do it during a horseback ride down the beach. He got in touch with Inlet Point Plantation stables that is up in the North Myrtle Beach / Little River area. They actually have a special sunset horseback riding package that was perfect for what he wanted to do.
While I’ve never been to Inlet Point Plantation stables before, I was familiar with the general area. It’s close to the Tilghman Boyce cottage where I’ve shot weddings in the past. When you arrive at the location on Google Maps, you just have to keep driving for a few miles down a dirt road until you see signs to the stables. I was a little worried, because Inlet Point Plantation offers their own basic photography packages, during the horseback rides. I don’t want any uncomfortable issues with conflicting with another photographer. However, it wasn’t like that at all. They were super helpful and great through the whole process.
When I arrived at the stables, I actually took the signs off my car to not mess up the surprise. We were going out with another couple on the sunset ride. I talked to them while we waited for the soon to be engaged couple to arrive. So everyone knew what I was there for, except for Geoff’s girlfriend. I was able to hop right in the van with everyone, even with all my equipment. She was just told I was the photographer, going to get some normal shots, of the sunset horseback ride. She really had no idea I was actually there for just the two of them.
It’s a beautiful location where they do the beach horseback rides. Just past the very tip of the Ocean Isle beach area, there is a completely undeveloped stretch of beach, that can only be accessed with a private dirt road. If you have ever seen Hog Island up in Cherry Grove, it’s just north of the island and marshy area. Geoff and his girlfriend went out on their slightly abbreviated sunset horseback ride down the beach while I waited. On their way back, I began to take some shots of them riding down the beach. Also some of them sitting on the horses together holding hands and even petting them.
After they got off the horses, they began to walk down the beach together, where Geoff got down on one knee and proposed. After she said yes and they had some hugs and kisses together, I went over to introduce myself and get the real pictures started. I also switched from my zoom lens to my 85mm prime at this time. I asked if she had any idea he was about to propose and she said she really didn’t. She was just wondering if they had to pay extra for all the pictures I was taking!
This was my first engagement session using the new Nikon Z6 II and Z mount 85mm f1.8 prime lens. You can check out this recent post for some of my thoughts on this new camera. You will notice how crisp and sharp the eyes always are in the pictures. Also the lack of any kind of chromatic aberration or purple fringing in strong backlighting. I used to get a lot of this with my older F mount 85mm f1.4 lens. We started out with some really cute pictures with the two of them standing between the horses. Then we went up around the dunes for pictures. The only problem by the dunes, being such a natural undeveloped area, we were swarmed by gnats. So we couldn’t last long in this area. I actually had to photoshop some out for the pictures.
Next, we did some shots of them sitting by the beautiful natural dunes. It’s so nice to get in an area where Myrtle Beach’s development hasn’t ruined the dunes. Huntington Beach State Park is about the only other area you can get natural dunes like this. The sand was very wet and with such a large beach area, I got some really cool silhouette shots of the couple standing in front of the sunset, with the light reflecting on the wet sand. We also got some beautiful sunset pictures by the ocean. The warm light from the sunset was making the water look really blue and the sky almost purple in contrast.
I hope you enjoy the pictures below. I like to think I specialize in surprise engagement proposals. I’m going to add Inlet Point Plantation stables as one of my main suggestions for clients wanting to do this. The staff was very helpful and made everyone go extremely smoothly. Thanks to their help, we are able to keep the surprise as well. If you want to plan something like this let me know, I would be happy to help.