It was going to be perfect! We were in Jekyll Island, Georgia on Christmas Vacation with family, and I had the best idea. Jekyll Island is such a beautiful place, with these gorgeous, tall palm trees, a historic hotel, lovely beaches, quaint neighborhoods, lush marshland, and adorable little shops. Of course, the photographer in me absolutely was going to bring my camera. We were going to do some family pictures (like it or not teenaged kiddos). My family was “going to love it” because I did my research and found the perfect place: Driftwood Beach. It was this beautiful beach that had large driftwood scattered on it. People even schedule weddings there at low tide, so this would be great, right? I previewed this beach the day before so that I could make a plan. I found this gorgeous, perfect piece of driftwood. That was where we were going to start our session. We went out at low tide, all dressed for a casual family session. My kids looked good, my husband looked great, and I got to wear my favorite scarf. I gathered my tripod, my camera, my charged batteries, and my remote, and off we went. I had been dreaming of this beautiful session at golden hour, with beautiful light and gentle breezes. I knew exactly where we would stand and sit. I had a plan and I was determined to make it happen.
We exited the car and started making our way over the little wooden foot bridge to the island. The calm water reflected the luminous light and the sun was in the right position. This was going to be perfect, just like I imagined. We walked toward the large driftwood, and I set up my tripod. After checking my camera’s settings I had one more thing to do. I only needed to position my family in the perfect spots on and immediately next to the driftwood. I started arranging my family like puzzle pieces until they were in the best position for the family portrait. Once I got into my spot, we were going to laugh at something really funny and get this idyllic shot.
I began to realize that the plan in my head was really more fantasy than reality when we started experiencing unwanted guests. These horrible little gnat-like bugs were suddenly flying around us and landing on us. When they landed, they bit. Surely we could stand still long enough for me to hit the remote and be done, but that wasn’t going to happen. As soon as one of us stopped swatting, another would begin, until all of us were simultaneously taking turns at swatting, itching, and shooing the bugs away. The bugs had no intention of leaving. I was determined to get this perfect portrait of my family. We must have looked hilarious as we were trying to be still long enough for me to hit the trigger, waving, swatting, mama shouting “just be still and smile!” Needless to say, we had to move away from the driftwood. I was so disappointed, but I didn’t want everyone to have a horrible time. I really just wanted it to be “perfect”. Stupid bugs. We ended up moving away from the driftwood and closer to the water where there were fewer bugs. The misery was now gone, smiles were back on, and we finished the task of doing our family portrait session. Done.
Life is like this sometimes, isn’t it? We make these incredible plans that “have to be perfect” when all of a sudden, these annoying gnats come along and force us to move. Personally, I have to laugh as I recall that warm December day. Sometimes the plan isn’t meant to be, or sometimes we just have to learn from experiencing it unravel, which can be unpleasant. (Especially when it involves biting gnats. I am now an expert in this area.) Anyway, I don’t intend to make this a big spiritual life lesson, but seriously, stay away from the driftwood.