A short time ago, Katie, a good friend of mine from Cal Poly, shot a message to me over Facebook asking if I had the time to do a quick photoshoot for her best friend's bachelorette party.  The group of gals were spending a weekend near Pismo Beach at The Dolphin Spa and Resort out here in the Central Coast of California.  Originally, we had planned for meeting at 5:30 p.m.  However, I opted to push it off til 6:00 p.m., hoping the sun's intensity would die down and be less intense.  Of course, true sunset is still closer to 8:00 p.m, so that strategy didn't work as well as I had hoped for.

Yesterday was that day.  Work in the office was plentiful and tedious with a few major deadlines coming up.  I left the office at 5:00 p.m, went home, checked that my camera had adequate memory space and battery life, and hopped on the 101-S by 5:25 p.m.  There was considerable traffic on the way down... perhaps California's version of the pau hana party... with hundreds of people packed in cars moving 40 miles well below the regulated speed limit.  By the time I reached the Avila offramp, I decided to get off the freeway and drive street level to the hotel... resort... spa... whatever you want to call it.


I arrived earlier than scheduled to scout out the area and parked in a nearby residential area within a 5-minute walking distance of the resort.  There was a public access walkway to a "park" off the coast, which I chose to venture out to since I had a few minutes to spare.  The park itself was fairly uninteresting, which featured just a few benches facing out towards the ocean and a few coastal oaks. However, out in the distance were a swarm of seabirds flapping around and splashing in the water.  A few of the larger seabirds were also circling overhead.  I would assume they were feeding on a school of small fish.  Afterwards, I turned tail and headed towards the resort to meet the bachelorette party.

The Dolphin Spa and Resort is located next to The Cliffs, another well known coastal resort.  Originally, I had planned on arriving around 5:30  p.m. to scout out the area for potential shooting locations.   However, I arrived around 5:45 p.m and planned to meet Katie and the girls at the "dolphin near the pool" at 6:00 p.m, sharp (not really).  Since I had a few minutes to spare, I ended up walking around the resort near the coast line. I was rather impressed with the resort and the grounds, but was unimpressed with the lack of locations to do the shoot.  There was also a lot of hotel guests walking around the area and on the coastal walkway, perhaps just before grabbing a romantic (i.e. expensive) dinner on the coast. Okay, expensive is relative.

By 6:00 p.m. my mind was restless trying to figure out how to handle the whole situation.  First of all, I was unsure of where to shoot. Second, the group was to consist of 7-8 persons, a size of which I had not handled in the past.  At most, I had handled four with Jocelyn's apartment-mates. Third, I was worried of being awkward and fumbling the process.  Secretly, I was hoping Katie would inadvertently help to lead the entire process. Haha.

Finally, I ended my walk-a-round and sat at bench near the resort's pool. Katie popped out of a nearby door and greeted me. Shortly thereafter, six other girls exited the door in formal attire carrying... fire(wo)man hats.  One after the other, I greeted and formally met each of them... Jacqui (the bride to be), Katie, Priya, Nicole, Carissa, Caroline, and Anelise.  Apparently, my service was a surprise for Jacqui, who I must admit, has a pretty cool and unique name.

The Bachelorette Party

We all talked a bit then proceeded to walk from the pool to the coastline.  A few photos were taken at a short outcropping right off the coast, but the they didn't develop as well as anticipated.  The breeze was blowing a little too heavily, throwing mostly everyone's hair into disarray.  Wind, as I am realizing, provides more of difficulty than light when shooting photos for women. Therefore, no photos were edited for that segment.

Katie suggested that we move to the beach via a shoreline access.  I replied that I didn't know where it was, so she lead the way.  While the group walked to the access, she and I had a chance to catch up a little, which was nice :).  The shoreline access was no more than wooden steps inlaid into the the ground, covered with layers of dirt, gravel, and sand.  Most of the girls took off their footwear and went barefoot.  There was a quaint bridge that we inevitably stopped at... and shot more photos that didn't develop as well, either :(... Regardless, we ended up going down to the shore.  That's where all the magic happened :D.

Multiple families passed by on their ascent back up the stairs to return home.  Many of them had young children, probably no older than 3-4 years old who ran between the girls and I during the shoot.  It was quite comedic and cute.  Meanwhile, we stayed put. let the families pass, and finally captured a couple of good shots :]. Thankfully, the breeze was less intense on the shore compared to the cliff.  Less breeze = less stuff flying around = happier people. There haven't been many pictures posted beyond this point, so be ready for the upcoming bombardment! This was not a well balanced blog post... (Click to enlarge)

Overall, working with this group of seven beautiful ladies was quite fun.  Although my initial thoughts were apprehensive, it all went quite smoothly.  Time passed by as the overall mood was light hearted. The smiles and laughter were also in abundance.

Overall, 'twas a fun hour out in the sun and on the shore.  The sun was bright, yet the smiles were brighter. Dinner time came along quicker than expected and our time was up... so we bid our good byes, farewells, and so longs.

Jacqui, may your marriage be fruitful and  full of blessings :).

What Was Learned

  • Cliffs = Breezy.... Breeze + Long Hair = Problems
  • Shoreline = Less Breezy; but may result in problems with angles of reflectance on the water's surface, dependent on the sun's elevation. Crouching lower, but no lower than navel level, to put the reflected rays behind subjects helps a lot.
  • Be adventurous to make the shoot more fun. Take your slippers/sandals/flip flops off. Clean up later.
  • Laughter makes everything better.
  • As far as editing goes bright and cheery is the way to go to set the mood. Vibrant could also be a good word. Don't abuse "Vibrance" in Lightroom. Do this by shooting into the sun. There are probably other methods for this, too. I'll discover them later. Expose to faces using spot metering. Increase shadows/darks in light room as needed.
  • Sometimes, you have to desaturate bright colors a tad bit... You just have to...