MLP photographer Virginia Dow on military homecomings:
I. LOVE. HOMECOMINGS. I mean, they are right up there with births. Witnessing the reunion of a family that has been apart for months at a time is emotional, intimate, and raw. The nervous excitement is palpable. All the moments missed, video calls, late lonely nights are all worth it at the first embrace. I've lost count on how many I've captured, but every single one has been a privilege and know that in these pure moments, we as photographers are receiving the honor of sharing those emotions with you and preserving them forever.
Back in January, before the 20th Bomb Squadron (BS) and Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) deployed, Ashlie had contacted me about capturing her husband's homecoming. He hadn't even left yet, but she knew that after 6 long months, the moments of their reunion needed to be documented. I'm always honored when another military spouse reaches out for images of any kind. We have a camaraderie of knowing what the other is going through without having known each other really. Ashlie kept me up to date as best as she could as to when her hubby would be coming home. Another joy of military life: nothing- and I mean NOTHING- is set in stone. It's not uncommon to be given 5+ different dates and times and even the days and hours leading up to the actual homecoming can change drastically.
We all finally had dates. And I say we because MY husband was also coming home from this deployment as well, but he came in the last wave and Candace will be telling you more about that. And dates is plural because I tried to be at multiple homecomings. I missed the first wave, but childcare is a little harder to come by when your spouse is still deployed and all your friends are the ones welcoming their heroes home! The second wave is the one Ashlie's husband was in and it was the biggest one because it had the majority of the personnel that had deployed. Multiple men, women, and children were waiting in the hot, mid-afternoon Louisiana heat, but that didn't stop Ashlie and her daughter Ellie from looking absolutely adorable while waiting for Daddy to get home.
Then we finally got to see his jet come in and land! The moments from landing until the sight of your person sometimes seem longer than the deployment itself, but slowly we watched people de-planing and finally we saw him in the distance and Ashlie and Ellie separated themselves from the crowd. And then I watched as a family became whole again.
That evening, the third wave was due to come in and I was able to line up some childcare last minute to witness some of my personal friends welcoming home their spouses. I really like photographing the fliers because its always so cool to be near the monstrous bombers my husband gets to fly. That and this time the fliers were coming home at the end of golden hour so it was pretty much a photographer's dream scenario. I even asked one of the commanders if they could repeat the circumstances the following week for my husband's homecoming. HA!
We were able to watch the jets come in and do a flyover while they set up for landing and then they bussed the families out to the jets. That's when the magic started and I couldn't snap fast enough! I caught as many families reuniting as I could and I loved all of it. These families, these people I get to go on this journey with, are so strong. Seeing them welcome home their fliers geared me up for welcoming mine home too! Make sure you keep reading to see all the beauty Candace makes my family out to be and welcome home 20th BS and AMU!
MLP photographer Candace on MLP photographer Virginia's military homecoming:
I had the privilege of capturing our own Virginia's homecoming moment and I am just struck with her STRENGTH as well as so many mamas like her who hold the fort at home while deployments stretch on for months at a time. The service men and women themselves are certainly heroic and brave but so are those they leave at home.
This image really got me because that's when the flip flop came off and a nose needed wiping and that's also when Virginia teared up.
She didn't say it, but I can imagine it was because she knew she wasn't alone anymore. She had him back and the gratitude and joy of it all was overwhelming in the midst of caring for two little people.
I have the highest respect and admiration for these incredible people and I will always be thankful I was able to capture these moments and tell this story. We love you Virginia!
Friends, we are smack dab in the middle of July in the South, which, as you know, means we are m-e-l-t-i-n-g right now. As I'm typing, the actual temperature outside is 108 with a real feel of 112, opening the front door feels more like opening the oven door, and basically all I'm good for is lying around in a sweaty heap moaning about it. This little love, on the other hand, didn't let on that she was feeling the heat in the slightest at the lake the other night. Super charming and giggly and playful, she splashed around with abandon and relished the way it felt to roll in the (relatively) cool mud. She was RADIANT in that early evening light, and just being around all that joy took the edge off the summertime sun. It was an absolutely perfect night.
Since we haven't ever done a special quite like this before, we thought we would show you what to expect for the next time we do something like this.
Here's the story by numbers:
37 is the average number of individually hand edited color images our clients received in their galleries.
74 is the average number of individually hand edited images TOTAL as each color copy comes with a corresponding black and white.
20 is the average session time in minutes (a great number for husbands who may or may not be fond of getting in front of the camera or for little people with short attention spans).
2 is the different kinds of images we aim to capture- both lifestyle candids as well as classic family portraits.
1 represents the moment- the moments we have come and they go and there's no going back. Freezing the moment, holding it still, seeing its worth and value and giving thanks for it for years and years to come... this is truly priceless.
We hope to see you next time! It was gorgeous and easy breezy fun this June in our friend's beautiful sunflower field.
Documenting a birth is the most sacred and profound thing we get to do as photographers, and being there to welcome this baby girl into the world last month was especially sweet. Laura and Joel found out they were expecting after a long, painful season that included serious illness and the stillborn birth of their daughter, Elenora, and hearing their story about what a journey of faith this pregnancy was will give you goosebumps. Gracie Mae Gordon arrived in the late afternoon at the coziest, most beautiful birth center, surrounded by people who had been praying for her for months as worship music played in the background, and it was without a doubt the holiest, most inspiring space I've ever been in. Welcome to the world, baby girl - you couldn't have been born into a more amazing family, and you are already so blessed and adored!
The atmosphere was thick with love and peace and joy in this home and we were so privileged to capture these sweet moments. Congrats on your new addition, Calahan family!
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