Reader Photo: Touching down with tangible memories


Rachel McFarlin made this photograph for a family who was moving from their beloved hometown of San Diego.

“I get great pleasure from the fact that I can provide families with tangible and lasting memories,” says McFarlin, who fell in love with photography during a college internship.

The couple wanted to capture memories of their children experiencing their local hangouts, one of which also happens to be McFarlin’s favorite place to shoot: Crystal Pier in San Diego’s Pacific Beach neighborhood.


“With the elements of depth, stacking and action as my goal, there are 5 layers to the pictures that I take there. The pier against the sky is my basic canvas, then I add in the sun’s rays escaping from behind the people and pillars, the waves in action, the mirrored reflection of the subject off of the wet sand, and the subjects themselves on the move. (Sometimes I get lucky and a 6th layer joins in, if a surfer decides to ride by.)

The little wooden cottages along the top of the 88-year-old pier give it an organic authenticity that makes you feel like you are someplace original and hip. By using an off-body flash, but ‘bouncing’ it off the sky, my sensor and lens are able to capture the individual rays of the sun bolting out from behind the subject. ... The waves are in constant motion, so the subjects have to be too. It creates fun and candid action shots, which capture the spirit and elements of the beach.”

The image was taken with a Nikon D610, using its 28-300 lens and a Nikon Speedlight SB-700.

Follow Trishna Patel on Twitter and Instagram @trishlistLA.

Each week, we’re featuring photos of Southern California and California submitted by readers. Share your photos on our Flickr page or tag your photos with #socalmoments or #californiamoments on Instagram and Twitter. Follow us on Twitter or visit for more on this photo series.