Documenting My Family on a Cloudy Beach Day / by Andrea Moffatt

Before summer is gone, I wanted to share with you the story of a summer day with my family in the beautiful Outer Banks, NC. So often we associate summer with sun and clear skies. So much so, that when it rains or is overcast, we don't think to pull out our cameras. Our mindset for summer pictures can be so rigid, that it can cause us to miss a surprisingly beautiful, more unconventional story playing out before us. Here is the story of how one cloudy, rainy day at the beach became my favorite day of vacation pictures....

The first thing I love about taking pictures on cloudy days (especially stormy ones) is that the sky looks interesting and different in almost every image. The sky can enhance your subject, or even BE your subject.

Next, is wind. There's always a nice sea breeze at the shore, but it is enhanced on days like these. There is no easier, breezier way to add motion to an otherwise still shot than to embrace the wind and see where it takes you.

On a sunny day, capturing the reflective quality of the water and wet sand is harder. But on a cloudy day it's everywhere.... it's like standing on an ever-changing mirror.

Besides the beauty you can capture before the storm, spending your day inside on a beach vacation gives you a chance to capture everyone interacting, visiting, and relaxing. Since I already love indoor photography, the rain gave me the perfect excuse to explore the new lines, light, and reflections at the house - a challenge I love!

It afforded us the perfect day to play in a warm bath... outside is was really chilly and too cold to swim in the pool (we know, because we tried!). 

And lastly, calm waters have their pluses, but I'd rather photograph rough surf any day! On our evening visit to the ocean, the rough surf gave me a chance to play with the elements: wind, waves, and sky all together. After reviewing my beach images from the morning, I realized that something was missing. That thing turned out to be movement. I had captured the wind, but there was still more motion in the story that my pictures weren't able to show. By steadying my elbows against my side while focusing a relatively still subject, I was able to slow my shutter to between 1/30 and 1/50 to capture the motion of the foaming, wild surf. (And my wild little boys!) 

So your storytelling lesson for today is: keep an open mind when you are telling your story. It's OK to have preloaded ideas of stories you might to tell, but don't let that cloud your vision and get in the way of a imperfectly beautiful one unfolding right before you.