Sigh. So just as we start to open New York City, the rest of the country falls prey to Covid-19. I’ve been a bit wistful for my old life this week, so I am sharing my final photo shoot before the ‘great unpleasantness’ began. These are photos from Zdravko’s proposal on top of the Empire State Building to Leila in February of this year. Enjoy the happy memories.
Meet Zdravko and Leila
Let me start off by introducing you to Zdravko and Leila. These two met two years ago at a bar in Scottsdale, Arizona. They locked eyes on the dance floor, and have been together ever since. With such an epic introduction, Zdravko of course wanted to ask Leila to marry him with an iconic proposal. Where else to go than the Empire State Building? We planned ahead and had a whole strategy in place for when Leila and Zdravko arrived on the 86th floor. So without further ado, here are photos from when Leila said ‘yes!’ to Zdravko.
Tips for a Proposal on Top of the Empire State Building
If you are looking to plan your own proposal on top of the Empire State Building, I have three quick recommendations:
- Strategize ahead of time with your photographer and know where and when you will meet. Make sure you know what each other looks like.
- Always buy the ‘Express Pass’ ahead of time for you and your photographer. Otherwise you may be waiting in line up to two hours.
- Know approximately where you want to go after the proposal. Nearby photo shoot location options include Herald Square, Madison Square Park, Times Square, and Bryant Park.
More tips from this trip to the Empire State Building:
The express pass will get you speedily through the line, but there’s one part of the Empire State Building where you should take your time — the museum. The museum has some really interesting artifacts from the history of the Empire State Building, including movie posters and things that were at one time sold in the gift shop. Unfortunately, you can’t go through the museum on the way down, so you need to take the time it takes to go through the museum into consideration when giving your photographer a time to meet.
If you need a place to change outfits, the nearest spot is the restrooms in Macy’s on the second floor.
There are lots of great photo opportunities next door to the Empire State Building. The storefront windows at Macy’s in Herald Square during the holidays are (usually) beautiful to behold and always an interesting background for photos. The only significant greenery around the Empire State Building is Madison Square Park. But if you don’t have time to get all the way there, you can make do with the little park at the corner of Macy’s and Sixth Avenue. The park is usually really crowded around lunchtime, but you can look out and get enough of a green background for some solid portraits. (The photos of Zdravko and Leila were all taken at the park directly in front of Macy’s.) Finally, don’t forget that during the holiday season Broadway along 35th Street has trees wrapped in fairy lights, and these can make for great photos.
My other recommended portrait location is to always make use of the subway. One of the most photogenic subway stops in New York City is Times Square, but taking portraits in any subway station is always a good option no matter which way you’re headed.
Choose shade over bright sun. The Empire State Building has an all-or-nothing lighting situation. You will find one side of the building has bright bright sun, while the other is in deep, dark shade. If you have a choice, opt for the shady side of the building to make your proposal. The bright side is too bright and it’s far worse in digital photography to have blown out highlights than to have your subject be too dark. Zdravko chose the correct side of the building, and the photos turned out great — even without a flash.
For more in-depth details, check out my extensive article aptly titled ‘How to Propose on Top of the Empire State Building.’
Enjoy your quarantine, New Yorkers, and let’s hope we get back to normal soon.
- Leila’s Dress – Macy’s
- Leila’s Shoes – Evangeline heels by Sophia Webster
- Engagement Ring – Yadav, San Francisco
Interested in a few of my other surprise proposals? Well then take a look at Mark’s surprise proposal to Elena at Brooklyn Bridge Park in this link. And don’t miss Matthew’s surprise proposal to Anna on the Central Park Lake in this link.
If you would like to see more images from my engagement portfolio, then please visit my website — KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com.