Tampa couple gets surprise engagement photo session

Image courtesy John Mullenix Photography via Facebook

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Kenneth Tielemans thought he had every detail planned for his proposal to his girlfriend Amy Shoucair. Both attend Santa Fe College in Gainesville now, but the couple started their relationship when Tielemans was a student at the University of Tampa.

They spent a lot of time getting to know each other on campus right by the Hillsborough River. Tielemans wanted to pop the question in the exact spot he was sitting when he first reached out to Shoucair through a message. Even though he figured she’d say yes, he was still extremely nervous.

“Simple tasks got really difficult,” Tielemans said. “Like parking. I couldn’t get it just right. And there were a lot of people around taking prom pictures so it was tough to find a quiet spot. You’re waiting for the perfect moment.”

John Mullenix
John Mullenix
Photo courtesy John Mullenix
Photo courtesy John Mullenix

He didn’t realize just how perfect the moment was. Across the water, on the Riverwalk, professional photographer John Mullenix was waiting for clients. He was looking around when he spotted Tielemans down on one knee.

“I grabbed my camera and started snapping pictures,” Mullenix said. “I had to get a longer lens to really get as close as I could.”

He captured some beautiful, personal moments. Mullenix wanted to run over to the newly engaged couple but didn’t have time before his next session. He knew he couldn’t let the pictures go to waste and posted them on a few Facebook pages in the hope of finding the pair. He also sent a photo to News Channel 8.

“I was kind of taking a risk. I didn’t know if they’d be mad,” Mullenix said. “But I know how I would feel if someone did that for me. I would love it.”

Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Bryan Bennett felt the same way. He showed the photo on our 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts.

Photo courtesy John Mullenix
Photo courtesy John Mullenix

“I was hoping one of our viewers would say, ‘Oh that’s me’ or ‘I know that person,'” Bennett said. “Who wouldn’t want that picture? It’s priceless.They didn’t have a photographer so why not show it on the air?”

Turns out Shoucair’s sister’s Sunday school teacher saw it and contacted her. The sister sent it to Shoucair, and the couple connected with the photographer through Facebook. He sent them the re-touched photos for free. They later found out several people shared it on social media trying to find them.

“Everyone was so sweet. It restores my faith in humanity,” Shoucair said. “It was really cool.”

They had thought about hiring a photographer but didn’t want a lens in their faces during such a special moment.

“We really got the best of both worlds,” Shoucair said. “We didn’t feel the forcefulness like with a photographer but still got these great candid pictures. After the proposal we were saying we wish we had something to remember it.”

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