Ground squirrel crashes Edmonton couple's mountain engagement photo shoot

An Edmonton couple's romantic mountain engagement photo shoot got a little wild when a nut-munching ground squirrel stole their shot.

Family thought the image was photoshopped, Kelin Flanagan says

This friendly ground squirrel made an Edmonton couple's mountain engagement photo shoot extra memorable. (B.D.F.K. Photography)

An Edmonton couple's romantic mountain engagement photo shoot got a little wild when a nut-munching ground squirrel stole their shot.

Kelin Flanagan and Spencer Taubner were hiking at Helen Lake in Banff National Park on Aug. 6. They'd planned a professional engagement photo shoot high in the mountains, but with stormy weather rolling in, the couple and their photographers decided to do the shoot on a rocky lookout just off the trail.

They soon had visitors — ground squirrels were running up and down through the rocks around them.

"We were trying to be a little bit quieter not to scare them off, but they were pretty bold on their own. They were definitely not shy about coming up and seeing what we were doing," Flanagan said. 

"While we were concentrating on looking attractive for the camera, one of the squirrels stuck his face right in front of the giant lens, which resulted in the beautiful picture."

The resulting shot features the ground squirrel front and centre, munching on a nut while the couple kisses in the background.

Taubner, left, and Flanagan just before they started their hike at Helen Lake. (Supplied/Kelin Flanagan)

This isn't the first time a roving rodent crashed a couple's photo in Banff National Park. In 2009, a curious squirrel popped up in front of a Minnesota couple's camera, resulting in a comical photo that spawned endless memes. 

Despite having a furry visitor steal the spotlight, Flanagan said the couple loves the shot. But they had to convince their families, who didn't believe the photo was real.

"When we showed it to our parents, both my mom and Spencer's mom originally thought it was photoshopped," Flanagan said. "They thought we were just making a joke. They were a bit more impressed when we told them what actually happened, and that it was not staged."

The couple plans to use the photo in their wedding in September.

Flanagan said it's a perfect portrait of the couple — a pair of mountain lovers who don't necessary take things too seriously, she said.

"It's a very cheerful squirrel, he looks very intense and very emotional about the situation, so I can tell he really cares about what we were trying to do," Flanagan said. "It captures the level of seriousness that I have about most things really accurately.

"I'm very proud of it."