Updated: May 7, 2019
I met my dear friend Beth at a La Leche League meeting back in the fall. We immediately clicked, especially when we realized both of our husbands are Active Duty Air Force.... before long we found out we'd be "deployment buddies" for a couple of months. I was so thrilled when she asked if I'd be open to photographing Steven's homecoming. Of course!!!! No... it's not really in line with babies and bumps but it's documentary... it's telling a story and you all know how I love those emotional stories... not many things in life are more emotional than a military homecoming (well except maybe birth! ) Believe it or not Homecoming Photography has a lot in common with birth photography... timelines are estimates, childcare can be a pain, the emotions are running high, once it's happening things move quickly, I get to tell a beautiful story, and oh. my. gosh. the high afterward is intense.
Beth and I spent all day on May 1st watching the clock and waiting for verification of landing time. Then it was time to get to base. If you haven't experienced military life, you might not realize that everything than can go wrong will at any time. As I was trying to get on base for this extremely important event, THE GATE WAS SHUT DOWN. I was stuck a few cars back, no way to turn around for another gate, anxious and freaking out. Finally they opened the gate and let us through. What a relief.... As I'm rushing to the homecoming location, Beth calls me flipping out because now SHE was stuck at the gate. I think it's safe to say we were both wondering if we'd even make it to the homecoming or if we'd be late and catch him in the parking lot...
Although there's always something to go wrong, the other side of the coin is that everything eventually works out... and it did. We both got there with plenty of time to spare. The best part of this whole experience is that Beth was able to keep Steven's return a total surprise for their son Aksel. He was super excited to go watch Daddy's airplanes... but he didn't know Daddy was on one of them!
You want to talk about an adrenaline rush? The anticipation of waiting for your airmen to walk down those steps will do you in! Witnessing this final wait was like watching kids on Christmas morning. After much waiting and watching, and more waiting and watching, the moment finally arrived.
Words can not explain the joy I felt watching this family reunite. Tears flowed as I saw the overwhelming love and joy. While the anticipation is exciting, my favorite part of homecoming photography is catching those little moments... the lingering hugs, the loving gaze where you can literally see two people connecting on the deepest level.
Welcome Home, Steven! Ryder Family, I'm so happy to see you whole again. Thank you for trusting me to tell your family's "Welcome Home" Story!
Are you anxiously awaiting your other half's return? Would you just absolutely love to have those first moments captured forever? Book your Military Homecoming Story today!