New York City-based photographer Vlad Leto has an interesting job. The Russian native makes his living sneaking around parks, hiding in bushes, and secretly photographing people’s most intimate moments. And they love him for it.
Leto is an “engagement photographer,” as he calls it. He is hired by future husbands or wives to photograph, from a distance, their marriage proposal. The photographs he takes capture the surprise and delight of the couples in their special moment for years to come.
Since he began, Leto has photographed couples all over New York City and the surrounding area, from parks and bridge to boats and hotels. “I can do it with my eyes closed,” he recently told The New York Times.
Leto shared a few of his favourite shots with us.
Leto came to the US in 2010 and worked odd jobs before following his passion for photography and becoming a wedding photographer. Four years ago, he was approached by a man wanting Leto to photograph him when he proposed to his girlfriend on Governors Island.
Since then the idea -- and the business -- have taken off. Most people find Leto via his ad on Craigslist for 'Secret Proposal Photography.' Leto says he charges $250 to $400, depending on how complicated the proposal or location is.
Leto has to be discreet so as not to be seen by the couple before the proposal. This involves sneaking around and hiding and waiting for the moment. When people around him see him skulking, they assume he's a member of the paparazzi and spying on a celebrity, Leto says.
Before the shoot, Leto is sure to have a plan with the proposer. He surveys the area, taking notes and pictures and creating maps. He wants to make sure every aspect is covered.
One of Leto's favourite proposal memories include the time he photographed a couple on a sailboat in the middle of the Hudson River during Fourth of July fireworks.
Another memorable moment came when a man proposed to his boyfriend during a performance of 'Cinderella' on Broadway, complete with full cast on stage.
One of the craziest proposal photoshoots Leto ever had was when a man wanted to propose to his girlfriend in a hotel room, so he asked Leto to wait in the bathroom. Leto decided to wait in the hallway instead.
Leto says that the Bow Bridge in Central Park is one of the most popular places in New York City to propose. He has a book in the works, which he calls a 'proposal guide to New York.'
Leto says that the number of proposals he photographs depends greatly on the season and the proximity to a holiday. 'It varies month to month,' he says. 'For example, in December I shot 51 proposals, and in February, only 11.'
Leto says that he loves shooting proposals because of the sense of joy he is able to capture. 'I reflect their emotions at that moment. I feel almost as happy as the couple,' he says.
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