Photographer, Mother, and Explorer Beth Easton | Retrospec Community Series

If you've ever wondered if childhood awe and curiosity can be captured, look no further than Beth Easton’s work. 

Beth and her family live in a small community on Puget Sound. Thanks to Instagram, the Pacific Northwest she and her family call home is having a moment; and for good reason. Mountains, hidden lakes, sprawling forests, foggy beaches, and the dark blue hues of the Pacific make everywhere you turn an opportunity for a moody, dynamic shot. The similar deep, vibrant colors in Beth’s work evoke a dreamlike essence, each moment suspended in a childlike memory.

Beth, a former university librarian turned stay-at-home-mom, calls her photography a “much needed creative outlet.” Her work captures an uncomplicated, approachable, authentic joy. It feels real, because it is real.

“The concept of ‘place’ really inspires me with my photography,” Beth says, “I think place plays such an important role in our development and sense of self.” Easton’s photography reflects on the places she and her family visit and how her sons interact with those environments. “My favorite photos usually show the scale of how tiny they [her sons] are against the landscape,” she notes.

Photography, in large part, teaches us to slow down and observe. Beth’s work and experiences with photography capture small, but significant flashes in life. “Photography has taught me to notice the small moments,” she says. “Moments when the light reflects on my kid's hair and gives a glint in their beautiful eyes; when a trail reveals a perfect natural framing of trees; when the sky or the sea are the most unusual and pretty tones of blue. You have to slow down to notice these things, and photography has helped me do that.”

Beth sees her work as more than just an anthology of travels. Instead, she is acutely aware of how her kids will reflect back on these experiences and their childhoods with the guide of her photos. “I hope that when they look at photos of their childhood, they will see that even though the places we frequent are beautiful, they are by far the most beautiful things in the world to me,” she reflects. “Raising them is by far my greatest adventure.”

We got to know Beth a little better. From her love of adventure and travel, her favorite memories outside, even down to how she takes her coffee.

R: How does your personal relationship with the outdoors define how you explore and experience nature as a family? How do you instill a love for adventure and exercise in your children?

BE: I grew up on large pieces of property in the hills and canyons of southern California. I had a lot of freedom to roam and explore. My kids don't get that childhood experience in our suburban neighborhood on Puget Sound, so we have ventured to other types of locations that allow them to have a wider berth in nature. It's really important to me that they have the time to feel free without the worry of cars and people. I think all children are naturally in tune with nature and have a wonderful curiosity about it. However, sometimes harder things for them, like hiking, biking, paddleboarding, or camping can be a challenge to get kids involved because it takes effort and planning on everyone's part. Our pretty trips aren't often "easy," but they are worth it for the time we get to spend with each other outside. I think children learn from example, so if they see that as a family we value being out in nature, they will grow into adults that value being out there. If they see their father and me hiking, biking, examining plants or rocks and taking interest in them, they will also learn to value those things and take interest in them.

R: We’d argue that the best memories are made while adventuring outside. Is there a certain outdoor experience that stands out as the greatest memory to you?

BE: I feel a bit teary thinking about all of the wonderful memories we have made while adventuring outside. I think the one that first pops to mind is when my youngest, then 3 years old, completed his longest hike in the North Cascades without being carried (~5 miles.) He was SO extremely proud of himself, and for the rest of the weekend spoke about his accomplishment with the cutest and biggest smile. That was really a turning point for him and how he approaches our adventures. It gave him the confidence he never had before which he is carrying over as he grows and tries new things. Thinking about how proud he was of himself makes my mama heart swell.

R: Do you have a favorite place to take your bikes as a family? Have you taken your paddleboards out to any cool spots?

BE: Taking bikes camping is by far my kids' favorite. They love going around all the loops without much worry of cars or even other bicyclists. It’s a great way for them to meet other kids their age to play with at the campgrounds. We have only had the paddleboards a short while, and the wind in our area has been heavier than usual. We also don't experience true summer weather here in our part of the Pacific Northwest until after the Fourth of July, so we have only taken them out a handful of times to local lakes. We are most excited to take them to our neighborhood beach on Puget Sound for our weekly summer evening picnics (for years, every summer, we meet all of our neighborhood friends with kids at the beach once a week for an evening picnic - its great community building, and the kids and adults come home tired, full, and happy. Our new Retrospec paddleboards are going to add to everyone's fun).

R: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

BE: I love where we live now in Washington. I wouldn't ever want to live away from this region, but I do wish we lived on a large piece of property with a view of the Olympic Mountains or Mount Rainier. San Juan Island holds a special place in my heart - it almost feels like "home" when we pull into port and I hope to experience living there someday. The only place away from the Pacific Ocean or Sound I think I could live would be the Bend, OR area.

R: Describe your perfect weekend

BE: My perfect weekend would be at a little lake house in the mountains, or small beach house on the Oregon or Washington coast. I'd drink coffee in the early morning on the deck by myself. I would play with the kids and our dog in the water all day, and in the evening spend time around a campfire reading stories with them and my husband (with a good glass of wine and a cheese plate at my side.)

R: How do you take your coffee?

BE: Hot with a splash of milk (as a mom, I usually have to settle for lukewarm with a splash of milk.)

R: Favorite pizza in your city?

BE: We are Pagliacci fans here at home. We love getting a pie and taking it to the beach for dinner, or ordering in for movie night when it's rainy. We love Doryland Pizza in Pacific City, OR the most though, and we will drive out of our way to get a pie from them to eat on the beach. I also have to say, there used to be this pizza place in Bend, OR that made a pizza with different cheeses, tons of artichokes, and honey drizzled on top. It was to-die-for!!!! If any pizzeria owners are reading this, please recreate this pizza for me!!

Beth Easton lives in Washington with her husband, two sons, and adorable dog, Pocket. Follow her on Instagram @seasalt.and.evergreens.

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