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  • Writer's pictureElena Gera

Surprise Proposal Photography on Top of the Mountain | James+Anna

Updated: Feb 19

In honor of National Proposal Day today, March 20th, 2023, let's dive into the story of James and Anna's surprise proposal photography on top of the mountain in the midst of COVID restrictions. Anna had no idea this was supposed to happen! She thought it was just one of their usual hikes!

Surprise Proposal Photography on top of a mountain

James was a man on a mission: he was dead set on proposing to his girlfriend, Anna, on top of Elk Knob, their favorite hiking trail in North Carolina. And he found a photographer (me) to capture his surprise proposal. And he wanted all of this in the middle of COVID! Exactly when the most severe COVID restrictions hit in the spring of 2020, even the hiking trails were shut down. But that didn't stop James. He and I exchanged countless emails and texts, monitoring CDC guidelines to find the perfect date. The original plan was for April 18, 2020, but we had to push it back to May 14 when the restrictions eased up slightly.

The planning was no walk in the park, and we were nervous about travel times and the possibility of rain. Surprise Proposal Photography requires meticulous planning! But it all came together perfectly! I hiked up the 1.9-mile trail to the breathtaking view and was ready, hiding in plain sight as a bird watcher with a camera and a very long lens :-), just as James and Anna reached the summit in their hiking gear. Anna thought it was just another one of their typical hikes, but little did she know what James had in store! James saw me and gave me a slight nod, and I discreetly signaled that I was ready to snap some pics.

Guy kneeling to surprise his girlfriend with a ring

As Anna stepped up to take in the incredible view, James got down on one knee behind her. He was visibly jittery and, of course, forgot how we had planned on FaceTime the exact spot where he should stand. He ended up standing directly behind her instead of to the left, as I had instructed. But I quickly adjusted my position and was ready when Anna turned around to see James on one knee, arms extended with a ring.

Surprise Proposal Photography on Top of Elk Knob Mountain

She was utterly stunned, and for a good three seconds, she could barely say a word! Then she burst into laughter and said, "Are you serious?!!! Oh, my God. YES! YES! Of course, it's a yes!" James got up, hugged, and kissed her, and I kept snapping away until I finally approached the couple. Anna didn't even notice me until that moment!

I was so proud of James for organizing such an elaborate proposal and even joked with Anna that if he was capable of planning something so intricate for their love, then she should definitely marry him! Of course, Anna didn't need any convincing!

The couple finally tied the knot 1.5 years later in October 2021 and now live happily ever after in Raleigh, NC. I'm sure James and Anna are still exploring new trails and experiencing many more exciting surprises together. May their love continue to bloom with each step they take, and may their journey together be filled with adventure and joy.


"Elena was exceptional with my surprise proposal photo shoot. I planned to surprise my then-girlfriend at the summit of a trail in the NC mountains. Elena was responsive, helpful, and flexible throughout all of the planning processes. She set up a FaceTime with me when I was initially planning the idea to set up the photo shoot, which was very beneficial. Throughout the entire process, she was always willing to help and very flexible. Not only did she hike up a tough trail to the site of the photo shoot, but she was also in the right place(undercover) to successfully capture the moment. There was a chance of rain the night before, and I was able to contact Elena late in the evening and change the time by an hour. She provided me with updates throughout the day of the engagement and which gave me great comfort. If you are planning any surprises, you can especially count on Elena to be in the right place at the right time. She is extremely professional and charges a great price as well. The quality of the photos was excellent, and we received them fully edited a couple of days after. I 110% recommend Elena for your photography needs!"




I am Elena, a documentary-style wedding, engagement, and surprise proposal photographer in East Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina!

My style is relaxed, playful, and evocative. I value connection, joy, authenticity, and true colors.


I help couples who want candid shots and cherish raw emotions!

Please get in touch with me if you have any questions or to check availability. 

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