Making Waves in Jekyll Island, Georgia - A Tale of Fun and Frustration

A tree at Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island at sunrise

Driftwood Beach - Jekyll Island, GA

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Jekyll Island has been on my list of destinations for a while with the expectation of photographing Driftwood Beach under the stars. 

My sister, Jo, got tired of hearing me talk about it. 

She went ahead and booked a rental house and called me and said, "Are you coming with us?"

My sister gets things done!

She thought it would be a fun break for her family for a few days, and since my niece is doing remote learning, they could pull it off.

Jekyll Island is about a 4-1/2-hour drive from Atlanta.  

I called Lauren and asked her if she and her partner, N, wanted to join us. 

Lauren and N drove down Friday and came back Sunday. They met up with Lauren's nephew who was driving from Florida to Baton Rouge, and he also joined in on the trip, since he's interested in photography.

I met up with my sister and her family Saturday morning. I drove my own car because I didn't know what the internet situation would be like on the Island.

If I wasn't able to work, I'd need to come home sooner. 

Addy drove down with me. We had a blast talking, singing, and playing the alphabet game. She's very entertaining!

Work, Work, Work

I was in the middle of working out a deal with a broadcaster who wants to use some of my photos for something in October.  I'll let you know if that works out, but it was crazy trying to figure it out on the road.

I had several photo-filled hard drives with me so I could give the broadcaster samples. It was super time-consuming and stressful, and my niece Addy's opinion was, "Aunt Susan, you work tooooo much!" 

Photography, like life, rarely works out according to my plans. Thankfully, I'm flexible and I've come to expect the unexpected. But, I will say, the weather forecast was sooooo wrong, which was disappointing.

We were expecting sunny weather with a few clouds while we were there. Milky Way season is about over and the moon was just past full, so star photography wasn't happening on this trip. 

I was hoping to get some nearly full-moon shots over Driftwood Beach which probably would have required some photo compositing, but at least it would have been photos I took while I was on the Island. 

After we got settled at the house we rented on Saturday afternoon, I took off to meet up with Lauren's group at their hotel. N stayed at the hotel, and Lauren, her nephew, and I went to Driftwood Beach for some sunset shots. 

Jekyll Island is small, so even though we were staying on the opposite end from Driftwood Beach, it was only a 10-minute drive to Lauren's hotel and another 5 or so to Driftwood Beach. 

When we got to the beach, there were at least three wedding parties and they all had a lot of family and friends with them. Social distancing was next to impossible, and we were some of the only people wearing masks.

I wouldn't usually bother wearing a mask on the beach because it's outside and breezy, but with all those people around...

It was also impossible to set up for a good shot due to all the people milling about.

The sky was overcast and blah.

My sister, BIL, and niece showed up as we were leaving. We were going to look for a less crowded place for some sunset photos. 

My sister's family stayed at the beach, and we drove around looking for a spot where we might get some decent photos, despite the overcast sky. 

It looked like there'd be no sunset at all, and we gave up.

We headed to the mini-store to grab some snacks and go back to Lauren's hotel room which overlooked a quiet beach. 

Oh geez.

Epic fail! 

The sky didn't look like much as we were driving around but as we pulled into the little store parking lot, everything changed.

The sky turned pink and orange and gorgeous! 

We stopped right there and got a few shots but...parking lot and stores? Ugh.

Not my favorite composition, but at least there were some palm trees!

A pretty sunset at Jekyll Island in Georgia

As I've said many times, photography is about patience. We should have patiently waited at the beach and patiently dealt with the crowds. We weren't having a patient day, and we were hungry. 

I wasn't worried, though.

The internet connection at the house was decent, and I was able to use my phone as a hotspot for security, so I knew I had three more days to shoot. 

Lauren was bummed because she was leaving the next day, but at least she'd gotten some good photos that morning at sunrise. 

Addy and I met up with Lauren the next morning and went back to Driftwood Beach for sunrise. Ahhhhh...I love the sunrise. 

I got some good photos but I was disappointed again with the weather. There wasn't a lot of color in the sky but I did get a few photos I liked. 

Addy had fun being my assistant and running around the beach.

It was breezy and I was hoping my long exposures would be sharp. If it's too windy, long exposures can come out blurry since the wind buffets the tripod and camera.

The cover shot of the tree was a 25-second exposure, and it came out pretty sharp, despite the wind. 

After we were done, we dropped Lauren off at her hotel and headed back to the house. 

The Rental House

It was a house and it filled its purpose, but man was it dirty.

We laughed that it wasn't pet-friendly. Our dogs could not have possibly dirtied this house.

The tile floors were speckled dark gray and mottled with years of grime. I noticed some clean tiles in the bathroom closet that revealed how truly filthy most of the tiles were. 


The original tiles were off-white. Oh my.  

I'm not super picky but in these times of COVID, it's nice to stay somewhere that looks like it's been deep cleaned once in a while. The HVAC vents were caked with dust as was the rest of the house.

Well...we did get a bargain on the price!

And the decor made up for some of the filth - classic, never-been-touched 70s. I forgot to take a picture of the oven - total vintage, mustard-yellow.  It worked fine! The Brady Bunch could have lived there. 

Over the next few days, I struggled to get photos as the weather went from bad to worse and back. It drizzled and was overcast most of the time, though at least it was warm, and we were able to get Addy to the beach a few times. 

We went for a little walk one evening and saw some dolphins at St. Andrew's Beach which was awesome. A bunch of people were there with nets catching fish, and it drew the dolphins close to shore looking for leftovers. 

Unfortunately, we got mauled by some sort of biting/stinging flies or gnats. The bugs drove us off the beach. 

My whole head is covered in bites. So are my feet since I was barefoot. Ahhhhhhh...the itching!

We went to a different beach the next day, and it was windy, so the bugs left us alone and Addy got to swim and boogie board. 

I also got some good photos of my sister's family for their Christmas card, so there's that!

A family photo on the beach at Jekyll Island

I'll let my sister reveal the portrait in her Christmas cards. 

I had a fun trip spending time with friends and my sister and her family. As far as photos, it wasn't a complete bust, but I'm hoping my next outing is better. 

You know how you see those Instagram influencers posting photos and blogs where everything is perfect? The hotel, the beach, the restaurants, the weather...

My life isn't like that. 

Mine is more like iffy weather, dirty accommodations, and stinging bugs.

You know what?

As long as I have my family and good friends, I'll take it! 

At least now I know where NOT to stay, and I have an idea of the Island and Driftwood Beach.

I'd still love to get some photos of the Milky Way from the Island. It's an easy drive down there so we can do it semi-spur-of-the-moment.

Next time I'll bring some bug spray. 

I hope you had a great weekend and that your head isn't itching from bug bites. 

See you between the raindrops, of which I've had plenty lately!


P.S. - You can learn more about Atlanta and its neighborhoods in this article at Neighbor Who.