Posted on May 26, 2012
Every day I get at least one e-mail from a military spouse asking me to photograph a homecoming. Now more than ever, it seems like people want to preserve these events just as they would a wedding, the birth of a child, or other once-in-a-lifetime moment. And I absolutely love it. I love that people invite me to share in their excitement. I love that they don’t mind me crying right alongside them– but most of all, I love that military families are choosing to hold onto these homecomings forever, and they’re choosing to do it in photographs. There’s nothing quite like your loved one returning from war. The agony of waiting is over and there is a feeling of relief so enormous and overwhelming that your brain and body go into auto-pilot. You run, you jump, you hug, you kiss, you stare, you…you remember those seconds and relive them in photos another day, whenever you need an emotional pick-me-up. You never want to forget what it felt like in that instant when a familiar face stepped off a bus or when that familiar face was touching yours for the first time in seven months. Photographs like these insure that you won’t forget those feelings and neither will your children, even though they were too young to know what exactly was happening.
This is the homecoming story of the Davis Family. With three little boys, Felicia certainly has her hands full. But what was so clear to me that day her husband came home from Afghanistan, is that her heart is even fuller. The tremble in her lips, the soft tears in her eyes– they were the physical signs of a love so big it can’t be contained within her heart. She was quiet in her words but her expressions and touch screamed, “I love you. I love you. I love you.” I couldn’t be more thrilled to see this family reunited. And any time I need a reminder of how to hold my son, I’ll look at the photos of Sgt. Davis holding is own boys– like he’ll never let go again.
Posted on May 23, 2012
I’ve known Cheri for quite a few years and I think she’s one of the sweetest, most genuine people I’ve ever come across. So naturally, it makes my heart smile to see her so in love and so cherished by her soon-to-be husband, Alfonso. And yes, I might want to give her a big wet kiss for bringing along the most awesome prop for these engagement photos. This amazing 1926 Chevy belongs to Alfonso’s dad and I want to thank him for driving it out to USD for these shots. This car is so clean and just plain cool.
The inspiration and styling for the session came from Cheri’s friend, and wow– the two of them knocked it out of the park. I wish I could take credit for it, but really I just showed up with my camera and imagination and let their outfits and the car lead me. It helps that Cheri and Alfonso are adorable together and were so natural with me. You guys are great
Here are some of my favorites. Enjoy!
Posted on May 14, 2012
There’s no doubt this mama is outnumbered at home, but I don’t think she’d have it any other way Boys are just too much fun. With their super-hero obsessions and dare-devil antics, there’s never a dull moment. Throw in a real life hero (a Marine dad) and you’ve got quite the bunch.
I had so much fun with Carrie and her family. Truth be told, little boys and husbands aren’t always the most willing models, but they provide me with an opportunity to capture genuine moments with real smiles and laughter. If the cost of getting great shots is having to chase after 4 and 5 year olds shouting in a monster voice or making fart noises– then so be it. You never know; I might actually enjoy fart noises, and I just might be really good at them too
Here are a few favorites from my session with the M Family. Enjoy!
Showing me some super hero action
Posted on May 10, 2012
Sometimes my job seems too easy. Don’t get me wrong– I would never describe running your own business as a cake-walk, but sometimes my clients are just so full of life and joy that it doesn’t feel like a job at all. That was this case with the B family. They showed up with smiles on and great attitudes. The whole session felt like I was just hanging out with friends (I think almost all of my clients will attest to that). I had photographed the two youngest kids during Baby Chick Mini Sessions, and it was so nice to see them again– especially since this Marine Corps family will be moving to Florida in a matter of days. I’m sure they will get along just fine with their new adventure. I wish them luck during their move and lots of new memories in their new home.
Thank you guys for the smiles– stay in touch!
Posted on May 8, 2012
I always get chills when I photograph military homecomings. It doesn’t matter how many I shoot, who my clients are, how long the deployment has been– these homecomings are sobering and real. It’s so difficult to explain the mood and atmosphere to someone who has never experienced one, but I always try my best to do so in these posts.
The drive to the parade deck was dark. This part of Camp Pendleton is pretty secluded and since it was a smaller homecoming, there weren’t any huge signs pointing me in the right direction. Luckily I found my way. Once I parked, I made my way to the building where the families of 2/11 waited. A few kids were playing tag and wrestling as cartoons played on the projector screen. Some people were chatting or eating the food set out. But mostly it was quiet. I almost felt like the click of my shutter was intrusive. Some people talk a lot when they’re nervous, some shut down and just wait. This room was full of people doing the latter, including Heather who kept her hands clasped as she watched her son play with the other kids. Outside on the parade deck, a dozen or so Marines sat on the bleachers, waiting for the gear to arrive. A few balloons and streamers danced in a light breeze and here, too, it was quiet. The air was cool and it was peaceful. It felt like the happy ending of a movie where everything was falling right into place. All I could do was watch and witness.
Heather contacted me several weeks ago to photograph her husband’s homecoming and I was thrilled to meet her. She is sweet, soft-spoken and that night she was anxious. We talked about her son (who shares the exact same birthdate with my son), where she was from, and of course her husband. She told me that once the Marines started filing off the bus, I’d be able to spot her him easily– he’d be the one with a BIG smile. And boy was she right. When her husband finally stepped of the lone bus, their son rushed to daddy, whose smile you could see from a mile away. I watched him wrap his arms around his family and simply say, “I missed you guys.” Then I just snapped away, capturing a father and son bond, and mom watching blissfully as her family became whole again.
Each reunion is unique with it’s own reactions and emotions, but they all share the same overwhelming sense of pride and love. I swear I will never get sick of being a witness to it all.
Here is the Hunt family’s homecoming story through my eyes. I hope you enjoy…