It's that time again! It's Military Homecoming season! I absolutely LOVE this time of the year! So many excited giggles, nervous grins, tears of joy, first kisses, first hugs, joyous cheers, and me being able to capture it all!
I mean, look at this. Daddy getting to hold his baby girl for the first time! <3 sigh …. gorgeous.
The happy tear of holding him.
Capturing a mommy kissing sandwich! <3
I could go on and on about the importance of capturing every single moment of your reunion … but you know why. You know how many days you waited. You know that it was a struggle at some times while your family was separated. You know that being a military family isn't all glamorous and can be dangerous. You know what it takes to get through the months, week, days and hours till you can see your hero again. You know.
So, let's talk about how I handle military homecomings. :-)
CONTACTING ME: First, being a military spouse and service member, I understand that military time is never what you expect it to be. You're told one timeline and that one timeline can change 10 times before he or she is actually on U.S. soil. Nothing is final until he or she is holding you tight. That being said, the second you have some sort of idea when your hero is coming home … contact me.
I take homecomings on a first come, first serve basis. It stinks, but that's how I have to work it. Fort Bragg is soooo busy and all the units seem to come home around the same time. To save me the hassle of double booking a family and risking having to cancel with one due to changing timelines. I must know what unit your service member is with. That way if I'm told a time frame and so happens I have someone already booked for that time AND the same unit, unfortunately, I cannot take on that family. OR if its different units, there is a possibility I can be there for BOTH families. It gets a little tricky as you can see. I want to help out as many families as possible! You can contact me via email (email@example.com) or Facebook to book your session.
BOOKING: When you get your date or at least ready to commit, I need you to pay the session fee in full to lock in your time line. This prevents me from booking another person for your time frame and ensuring I will be there. My sessions are $280 plus tax. This includes me being on call for your time frame, all usable images on a custom USB and a print release. It also includes a complimentary Americana Clover Super Mini within one month of return date. Americana Clover Super Mini is a 20 minute session with the service member (first responder) IN uniform.UPDATE: I now have the option to add a short video of your homecoming for an additional $85!! Not only will you get the USB, but you'll also have video with your beautiful pictures to watch and relive the moment you and your loved one were reunited once more! (See video at very bottom!)
Because my husband is deploying soon as well, I need to be aware of time of the day for each homecoming as he is usually the one who stays with my sons while I leave in the middle of the night for a homecoming. I will find a babysitter and if it ends up being in the middle of the night or really early in the morning, I will take the boys on a field trip to where ever the reunion is going to be (granted YOU, my client, is okay with it). As like many of you, Family comes first.Once you have booked and paid (no matter how far out the time line is), you are on my calendar and I will continuously watch for updates from you. Your job is keep me up to date with any and all changes that you hear from your service member or FRG. This way I am able to keep track of families I'm photographing and ensuring no one starts bumping up against each other. If you book in January and I don't hear from you till November telling me he is coming home in a week … I don't know if I'll be able to push things around… yes, even if you've paid the session fee.
LOCATION: So you have your date and waiting on what location he or she will be coming home. I am familiar with Fort Bragg's locations as well as Fayetteville Regional Airport. Those two locations are included in the session price. If you are wanting a reunion in Raleigh or Camp Lejeune … an additional travel fee will be added (mileage and travel time). I have photographed planes arriving and buses arriving, as well as a surprise to a family's home, so I'll be ready.
GETTING READY: Giving that your loved one isn't trying to surprise you at home, getting ready is simple. Be comfortable, be you. Yes, people get dressed up. Yes, people come in comfy jeans. Yes, some have come in pajamas. It's your homecoming, I'm there for you. I've seen many reunions and every single one has been different. Sometimes the plane is late … sometimes it's REALLY late and sometimes it's on time. I have yet to see a plane come in early … though there was one time I thought I was going to miss the soldiers coming into the hanger because I was stuck in traffic and the plane was 5 minutes early. ;-)Make sure you keep me posted on changes the day before and the day of. Again, I have to coordinate child care and have time to make it to where ever I am heading to. Also, make sure you have signed and given (or bring to the reunion) your session agreement. This legally allows me to photograph your and your family as well as share your joy online and for marketing/promo/advertising of my business. There are a few exceptions to my agreement and that will be discussed in full prior to you signing and paying your fee.
MEETING UP: If we don't get the chance to meet up prior to his or her return, you will have my cell phone number and you'll let me know where you are at the location. I usually arrive about 30 minutes prior to the time you give me. It allows me to have a buffer just in case of traffic and so I can get some before shots of you waiting.
I'll call you and tell you what I'm wearing and where I am. We will meet and then we will wait. :-) We will chat, I'll snap some images of y'all waiting and of the little details. I'll nervously pace with you. I'll watch your stroller while you take your child to the restroom minutes before the plane touches down. I'll snap images of you taking selfies. I'll take pictures of you taking a nap before he comes home. I'll be there for you. :-)
THE MOMENT: When the moment finally arrives … All hell breaks loose. No seriously. :-) Emotions, nerves, everything collides. Don't worry. I'll be there to catch it all through my lens! Whether you're a runner or one that waits for him to find you … I'll be there. Just give me a small warning ;-) After the ceremony or however they come to you, I'll just be snapping away. Don't worry about looking ridiculous or trying to get the perfect poses … this isn't about posing. This is about life and it's happening now. Don't be worried to smooch. Don't be worried to jump into his arms. Don't be worried period. I'll be out of your way, just snapping away. The best pictures I get is when the couple/family is doing what they do best … being themselves.
AFTERWARD: After you get your first hugs and kisses out of the way. After the rest of the family says their hellos and after friends congratulate each other on their safe return. Then I usually say my welcome homes and get a family photo. This usually consists of the nuclear family, then the extended, then whomever else. :-)
YOUR IMAGES: I tend to take about two weeks to get all the images edited and on a CD or digital download for you. (UPDATE: video will be ready within those two weeks as well if you choose to add that to your package!) I do sneak peek about three images on Facebook for you to share with Family and Friends within 24 hours of your reunion (hence the importance of the session agreement) … depending on when the reunion is, usually the first image goes up within 2 hours. If you're wanting a CD, once burned, we will set up a time to meet and I'll give you your CD. If you choose a digital download, you'll get your images almost immediately after they're done being edited.
And that's it folks. :-) Your homecoming, down and dirty. Like I said above, every homecoming is different and has it's own surprises but all of them follow the same template. I really hope you choose me as your military homecoming photographer as I really do believe I'm the best out there. I love catching people in the moment and capturing the true emotion of that moment.
If you're looking for more information or to book your session today, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
*** Please remember that all images are copyrighted to Sharilyn Wells Photography, LLC. Please do not copy or alter any images without SWP, LLC consent. ***