FROM READERS: A covert mission to capture the engagement through photos

Monday, March 26, 2012 | 12:00 p.m. CDT; updated 12:11 p.m. CDT, Monday, March 26, 2012
Josh Benson proposed to his girlfriend, Ashleigh Beltz, on the Quad at MU on Thursday, March 15. Photographer Rhiannon Trask captured the moment by posing as a journalism school photography student.

Rhiannon Trask is the woman behind the camera of Lollipop Photography in Columbia.

To say I was excited about this photo shoot is an understatement.

You know that SNL excited lady skit with the girl who just heard a super cool secret but can’t keep a straight face or contain her excitement?

That was SO me one afternoon last week!

I was very thrilled to have been contacted on Tuesday, March 13, by Josh Benson who was about to propose to his girlfriend, Ashleigh Beltz. He wanted to plan a covert mission to capture the moment through pictures.

Ummm, romantic much? I think I literally swooned over the idea.

The setting was gorgeous. He chose the Mizzou Columns because of the beautiful, dramatic backdrop. Our spring-like weather this March has given way to beautiful green grass and flowering trees around the quad! The weather on March 15 was so lovely and the slight chance of rain held off for us.

Everything was simply perfect.

He and I had worked out a carefully orchestrated plan. I was to pose as a J-school photo student who was just casually taking pictures around the Quad. When I got there before they arrived, I dropped a tennis ball so he knew where to stand and then I went and hung out under a tree “practicing” with my camera.

I’m pretty sure I looked like a crazy person because I kept looking around, scanning the crowd like I was stalking someone (’cause I was). After this experience, I learned that I could never be a stakeout cop … I’m much too obvious about it!

It was a gorgeous day and there were a TON of students around the quad when I arrived a few minutes early. Thankfully, the crowd died down a bit when the time came and I was able to spot them right away walking toward the columns.

Ashleigh asked me later how I knew it was them. Josh had texted me photos of them ahead of time, but what really tipped me off was that they were pretty much the only couple on campus that was dressed up and not wearing backpacks.

As soon as I saw him break toward the mark on the grass, I knew it was on like Donkey Kong. I got into full-on J-school photography student mode and started fumbling with my camera, then pretending to take a photo of the columns with Jesse Hall in the background.

I was taking photos of the proposal instead.

I was glad I had a big camera in front of my face to hide my huge grin.

After he proposed and she said yes, a few groups around the quad started cheering and hooting and hollering. It was awesome. I figured they were friends of theirs, but it turned out to be random students. Someone even got a video (if that’s you, please contact me)!

She spotted me and I gave a big, goofy wave then came over to introduce myself.

We all got some laughs in and after a bunch of congratulations, we spent a few minutes getting some portraits of the newly engaged couple around the Quad.

Besides being a super romantic with the proposal, he did an incredible job picking out the ring, don’t you think?

My heart is still brimming with joy for this couple. Congratulations, Joshua & Ashleigh! Thank you for choosing me to capture your beautiful moment!

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how.

After Josh Benson proposed to his girlfriend, Ashleigh Belt the newly engaged couple smiled for portraits around the quad.
Josh Benson and Ashleigh Beltz share a kiss after he proposed to her on the Quad at MU. After he proposed and she said yes, a few groups around the quad started cheering and hooting and hollering.
Josh Benson kisses his new fiance Ashleigh Beltz by the columns at MU.

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