Eclipse engagement

Local photographer captures marriage proposal during totality

Jacob Platt gets on one knee — ring in hand — and proposes marriage to Sophia Castro during the solar eclipse’s totality Monday, April 8 at the Lake Colby beach in Saranac Lake. She said yes. They live in Vorhees, New Jersey. (Provided photo — Jordan Craig)

SARANAC LAKE — Photographer Jordan Craig — widely known for his drone shots — was grounded Monday, April 8 here at the Lake Colby village beach taking photos of his client, Jacob Platt, who planned on proposing marriage to his girlfriend during the solar eclipse.

Platt’s idea was not original, but it was memorable.

“There was actually about half a dozen people who reached out, but the first who put money in my pocket got me,” Craig said about people wanting to hire him to take photos during an eclipse marriage proposal on Monday.

Craig is considered a Lake Placid photographer. Although he now lives in Saranac Lake, he maintains a business address in the Olympic village. He didn’t seem out of place at the Lake Colby beach, as many others were photographing the eclipse there; it was listed as an eclipse watch destination. And he didn’t photograph Platt and his now fiancee, Sophia Castro, until after totality began around 3:25 p.m. He took photos of the Vorhees, New Jersey, couple wearing eclipse glasses only after totality.

“I kind of staged the (glasses) shot because I didn’t want to give away his secret beforehand,” Craig said.

Photographer Jordan Craig, left, shows Jacob Platt and Sophia Castro images he took of the New Jersey couple after they got engaged Monday, April 8 during the solar eclipse at the Lake Colby village beach in Saranac Lake. (Provided photo — Jordan Craig)

As totality began, Jordan caught himself between two different mindsets — as a professional photographer hired to capture the moment for his client and as a human being sharing this once-in-a-lifetime event with the rest of humanity.

“I just gasped when it happened,” Craig said. “It was this rapturous, out-of-body experience … and in that moment, all of my years of experience and habit forming as a photographer just kind of kicked into my rhythm. My habits just kind of took over, instinct took over, and I performed the assignment while my brain and my spirit were experiencing what was happening.”

With only 3 minutes and 33 seconds of totality in Saranac Lake, Craig knew that time would be a big factor — photographing the moon-covered sun in the background while Platt was on one knee, engagement ring in hand, in front of Castro.

“I knew it was going to be short, so I said, ‘OK. I need to get this shot with the eclipse behind them,'” he said.

Craig spoke with Platt about 30 seconds into totality, when he planned to get on one knee.

Jacob Platt and Sophia Castro hug after they got engaged Monday, April 8 during the solar eclipse at the Lake Colby village beach in Saranac Lake. (Provided photo — Jordan Craig)

“So that gave me enough time to approach and set up my composition, and then he did it,” Craig said. “We captured the moment of the two of them on the beach with the totality in the background. And then I said, ‘You know, the real story is their faces.’ So as quick as I could, I wheeled around to the other side of them and got Jacob looking at the totality while Sophia was hugging — they were hugging together and embracing. Her eyes were closed, and you could tell she was just so happy.”

That was the real story for Craig while the couple was surrounded by onlookers watching totality.

“And then I touched Jacob on the shoulder. I said, ‘Jacob, could you get down on one knee one more time. I want to get a few more angles. We’re not going to have this light again for 20 years, so we’ve got to work fast.'”

Platt agreed.

“So he got down on one knee,” Craig said. “I got a few more angles to help fill in the story for the gallery that I presented to them. … As he was down on one knee for that last little re-creation setup, the light changed. We got the shot and 2 seconds later … totality was over.”

Sophia Castro's engagement ring (Provided photo — Jordan Craig)

Knowing that he may want to produce a behind-the-scenes video of the marriage proposal later, Craig wore a microphone had a video camera rolling during the event.

“That was important to me to just capture the event happening for myself,” he said.

Craig admitted that he wasn’t 100% mentally prepared for totality.

“We can do the math, we can do the reading and watching of other people’s experiences, but then to actually be in the moment, it was just a heart-pounding, serene experience. It was serene and loud all at the same time,” he said.

Platt and Castro told Craig that they were in Saranac Lake to watch the solar eclipse with their friends.

Jacob Platt and Sophia Castro, far left, look at the sky at the Lake Colby village beach in Saranac Lake Monday, April 8 after the solar eclipse’s totality. (Provided photo — Jordan Craig)

“It was just a beautiful town,” Platt said. “I just took a look at the photos and tried to get good scenery.”

“Good view,” Castro added. “We like water.”

“Yeah, and this was really the perfect spot,” Platt said. “There’s a beach, there’s a lake, it was beautiful.”

Craig said Sophia was starting to put together the idea that Platt would propose during the eclipse.

“When did it hit you? Obviously, the eclipse was happening,” Craig asked Sophia.

“Yeah, I knew,” she said. “I knew a long time before that.”

Craig asked Sophia what it felt like during totality.

“Exciting,” she said. “I was a little nervous, though. I knew.”

Then Craig asked Platt how he felt during the event.

“It was great,” he said. “I mean, I was a little nervous, but I just didn’t want any clouds to be there and it was gorgeous and clear, just for it.”

“Yeah, great view, great view,” Castro added.

“We were able to see everything phenomenally,” Platt said. “Take our time doing that, and we took our time with the proposal as well, so it was best of both worlds.”

Platt and Castro both saw the total solar eclipse in South Carolina on Aug. 21, 2017, and Craig wanted to know how the eclipse in the Adirondack Park compared.

“It was very cool, but something about it, it was larger,” Platt said. “We were able to see the (Baily’s) beads of it very clearly.”

“More clearly, for sure,” Castro added.

“It was larger, it lasted longer, it was awesome, it was cool,” Platt said.

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