Personal Documentary: Pt Reyes

My children are at that age when they have opinions on whether or not they want to be in photos. This is challenging for me because although I want to honor their wishes, the photojournalist in me wants to document their everyday moments. The deal that we've struck is that I will notify them ahead of any outings when I will be taking pictures. They've been pretty cooperative when I do this, although I do have to remind my son not to scurry away when he notices my camera pointed in his direction.

I wrote about DIY Documentary Family Photography a few months ago. I felt like it was time we did another. 

We went to Point Reyes this summer. I put my family on notice that I would be taking pictures. I had high hopes for gorgeous Point Reyes beach photography.

My hopes were dampened (pun intended) by the cold fog that covered the coast. My family loved it though. 

Foggy day at Point Reyes CA. A little boy in a black coat is walking along the side of the road. 

Foggy day at Point Reyes CA. A little boy in a black coat is walking along the side of the road. 

Our first destination was the lighthouse. On the way there, we took a detour to a viewing area. My daughter caught a beetle that she insisted I photograph. 

Girl holding a beetle at Point Reyes. 

Girl holding a beetle at Point Reyes. 

I was so surprised to see butterflies(!) My daughter thought it would be fun to chase them. There are certain things that she is not self conscious about - scampering after butterflies is apparently one of them.  I am so glad that she still embraces her childhood and that I am able to visually document this time of her life.

A girl chasing a butterfly in the fog. Her brother is balancing on a rock behind her. 

A girl chasing a butterfly in the fog. Her brother is balancing on a rock behind her. 

We arrived at the lighthouse too late. Despite the fog not lifting (and wanting to make something out of this long daytrip) we headed for the beach. I had a sliver of hope that the sun would break through. It didn't of course, but this didn't stop my kids from enjoying the cold air and the seeing the ocean. They even made a sand dragon. 

When my son plays in the sand, creating things with his sister, he still looks like that 3 year who cried unless I took him with me to the grocery store. He still has the same hair, the same hoppy movements. I captured some pictures of him building the tail of the dragon. He was so absorbed in the activity that he didn't notice.  

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My disappointment gone, I remembered why I look forward to foggy days in Rancho Cordova, where we live. I love the way leading lines disappear into the horizon and that there are no harsh shadows that I have to deal with. The low light conditions allowed me to use the aperture that I wanted. I brought my Lensbaby Velvet 56 to play with. The dreamy photos I captured with it would not have been possible on a bright sunny day. 

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Having my own documentary photography session was fun. I just had to remember to take my eyes off the viewfinder long enough to be in the moment. 

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Claire Toney