Well, it’s been nearly two months since we went on our summer beach trip, but for the sake of timely blogging pretend we just got back - I’m all tanned up, we are still shaking sand out of our bags, I’m wishing for a crab cake every night, and Harper is still asking to go “fast fast” in the tide pools. My computer is being uber-slow with pics right now so I'll do a second post with more photos, but for now I'll just throw a few in this post here and there for your viewing enjoyment.
Seriously ya’ll, I’m a beach lover. L-O-V-E-R. Beach trips were par for the course for me as a kid, which I now realize is a huge privilege and is something I want very much for my own family. I love it all - the smell, the sound, the seafood, the water, the waves, and just the general sense that there is not much else to do but, well, be on the beach. I’ve been to a lot of different beaches, from Myrtle Beach, to Hilton Head, to Kiawah, to Fripp Island, the Outer Banks, to Sunset, Kure Beach, Florida beaches, Texas beaches, and a few dots on the map here and there and I have to say, I think we have finally landed on the beach the best suits us as the Leathers family, and Ocean Isle is it. Eric and I have spent a week at the beach for 3 summers in a row and they either felt too busy (aka Myrtle) or too fancy (aka Hilton Head), and Ocean Isle was somewhere in between. It’s simple enough that you are not distracted by arcades, lame sportsbars, or 25 stores all named some variation of Wings/Eagles that all sell overpriced pooka shells and airbrushed t-shirts, but it is not so swank that you felt obligated to wear seersucker in excess or capris covered in palm trees or dolphins (sorry Lily Pulitzer but I simply cannot stand behind you and your pastel nonsense).
Eric surprised me with this trip (holla to the hubby) so he did ALL the planning. Now Eric is learning to love the beach but it has traditionally been more my thing so the fact that he pulled it off SO WELL was impressive. My parents and mother-in-law joined us which was awesome because they are great company and it freed us up to play in the water and go to dinner. We went to the beach the exact same week when I was preggo with Harper so the feeling of balancing the boogie board under my belly and digging holes in the sand so I could lay on my stomach was all too familiar, but really doesn’t bother me in the least. It stormed a couple of evenings which made for rough waters the following morning which is JUST how I like it. When it comes to bathing suits while pregnant, there is the “cover your belly as if to deny you are pregnant ” camp, and the “rock that belly you sexy mama” camp and I am somewhere in between. I let that belly hang out via my black Target two-piece (I am so predictable) but it’s no string-bikinni ala Posh Beckham (who, by the way, named her daughter Harper! I mean, I know I do not corner the market on the name but Kelly Kapowski, Doogie Howser, and a Spice Girl now all have daughters named Harper. Cheapens it a little, no? No. You’re right. It doesn’t. )
Harper was a trip. Now, don’t force a girl in the water. She’s not having that. I should have named her Piper because she would scurry around that beach like a little sandpiper. She’s a pipsqueak (tall but tiny at the same time) so watching those little legs go go go was hysterical to me. But give her time and space and push her just a little each day and by day 3 she strolled right into the surf and let the waves break over. I was a proud mama. We really don’t want our kids to live in fear, even if it means they get hurt more often. What’s a broken bone if you foster a sense of adventure in your child, right? Well, at least we think so.
People have asked us a lot how we get such great beach pics of our girl (or just precious pics of her in general) and trust me, I am not even an ameteur photographer. Not even close. But a couple rules of thumb and you can go from ordinary pics to having so many that are what I like to call “frame-worthy” you won’t know what to do with yourself. I am hoping for a digital SLR camera one day, but we’re not there yet. In the meantime our camera is more than nice enough. So here goes tips from a girl who doesn’t know much about photography:
1) Snap Away. We probably took 200-300 pics that week. Of course we will trash a good portion of them, but we ended up with 30 or so total keepers. So click away and sift through them later.
2) Lighitng. I know enough about photography to know that lighting is everything. So make a point to take a lot of pics in the morning and in the evening. The way the sun dances on the surf at those times of day literally captivates me.
3) Close ups people. I’m not saying every shot needs to be of the face or even waist up, but what you don’t want is some wide shot with strangers and beach gear in the background. So create the moment by moving around and zooming in.
4) Styling. Okay, I know this is a little ridiculous to think of how to style your kiddos for a shoot but I do think it matters. For example, with Harper I put her in a ruffly yellow skirt with a yellow flower in her hair and didn’t care that she sat in the water in it b/c it is so worth a the pic. With the boy on the way I’m imagining a pair of tattered khaki shorts and nothing else or when they are teeny tiny just a solid onesie or striped trunks. The point is not to make the most stylish kid but to create a timeless moment and a shirt with a big Disney character on it doesn’t exactly do that.
5) Editing. If you don’t have a Mac, you should. Iphoto is so simple and so good. A boost of color here, an antique finish there, and voila - ordinary pictures become extra special. Now granted, an actual photographer with actual skills would know how to just take extra special pics without the help of editing, but I am no such photographer so in the meantime I have no shame with getting by with a little help from my iphoto friends. I’m sure there are other good editing programs out there for you non-Mac folks (Photoshop, of course, but I’m sure there are less expensive, less involved programs, too).
Now I totally think there is also value to just capturing your kids as they are - playing with their favorite toys, wearing whatever, doing their everyday sort of stuff. But if you are making a point to do a little mini-shoot there’s a few things that can go a long way.
So goodbye warm sand, seasprays, and breaking surf. You called. We answered. And we shall return! And next time we’ll bring a beachgirl and a beachboy along with us.