My current streak of capturing grad photos continues... Josh, Matt, and Tony wanted some photos done Tuesday evening. After a long day of work, we arranged to meet at my house and drove out to Grover Beach around 5:30 p.m. for a two-hour photo adventure. As everyone arrived, we piled into a single car and took the 101 northbound. However, as we neared Pismo Beach we noticed a thick blanket of marine layer rolling in for the night. As we drove into the gloom, we decided to jump ship and head back south to Avila Beach/Pier.

Avila Beach

When we arrived at Avila Beach I was slightly concerned about the number of people on the beach. Currently, it is summer time. School is out for most students (think, K-12), and many families and their children were wandering around the beach in board shorts carrying blue foam body boards. The three guys prepped their dress shirts, ties, tassels, and sashes on a nearby concrete block on the pier as I stood around... people watching. In the moments I spent with these fine young men on the pier and the next few hours, I started to think about the time I had spent with them over the past four years. I've seen them come in as young, promising freshmen to Cal Poly, and now I'll be around watching them take another small step into the early adult stage of life.

It is remarkable to see how far they've developed not only as friends, intellectuals, or brothers; but also in their ability to lead as men of God. These three fine young fellows have come a long way since I first met them four years ago. I started to think of the times I've spent with them: grabbing from The Avenue  lunch and eating atop the University Union patio, making breakfast burritos, hanging out and delving into each other's lives... all as my fingers moved along the camera body to capture their camaraderie. Meanwhile, the three joked and laughed about a matter I clearly was not paying attention to... my mind elsewhere.

After a short while, we moved on from the pier to a nearby set of concrete stairs/steps. We took a few individual shots here, but I realized the directional light from the sun was starting to intensify at the end of the day and about 3/4 of the shots we took didn't suit my liking. However, changing positions worked all for the better. Shooting into the light (with some variation in approach) has its perks, as I'm learning. I was able to capture more of their features and even some of the finer features in the concrete steps. Passerbys looked at us with interest; mostly families, some older folks. Someone was playing a guitar or another instrument in the background. Actually, I don't even remember what instrument they were playing... but they were definitely bumping up the ambiance.

We finished up at the stairs and trudged through the sand to reach some play swings. Real talk: We displaced two families and took over the swings. No shame. Josh, Tony, and Matt gladly hopped on the swings and did their thing. I'm not sure who had more fun: them swinging around like the children of the family before us, or me photographing three grown men whose hips couldn't properly fit in the swing seats. The following photos are the results. These guys are some cool cats.

Tony was the only engineer out of the three. In fact, he is graduating with a B.S. in Civil Engineering in just three (or so) days!

Pirates Cove

After a half an hour or so of swinging around, the guys decided to move on to their final destination at Pirates Cove. I dare say, that was an experience by itself. Won't tell you why, though. Heh. After driving the short distance from Avila Beach to Pirates Cove, the guys decided to change from their dress attire to more casual attire: long sleeves shirts, jeans, belts (classy), and sandals (borderline classy). We walked the short distance to Pirates Cove, all the while complaining of the inclement weather.

The marine layer continued its path and had rolled in from Pismo Beach towards Avila Beach. Some of it had started to cover most of Pirate's Beach. However, we reached the Cove just in time... maybe thirty minutes before the marine layer enveloped the cove.  They had brought along their graduation caps. We watched as an entire flock of sea birds circled the ocean maybe half a mile out to feed. Some families were also climbing atop Pirates Cove to watch the sunset, and most had climbed down and headed back to their cars by the time we were done. A small group of them waited inside the cave to wait their turn as I finished up some of Tony, Josh, and Matt's photos.

Best wishes to Tony, Matt, and Josh as they enter another stage in their lives!

What Was Learned

  • Beaches are crowded, but the Heal tool in Lightroom works wonders
  • Shooting into the light is okay, sometimes
  • The Rib Line sometimes runs out of tri-tip meat
  • Utilize the environment to make subjects smile
  • Reflections on clean, tinted windows provide great opportunities
  • Marine layers put damper on plans, be flexible when shooting oceanside