I had one of the greatest honors in my photography career and that was to document a military homecoming. My friend Josh had gotten deployed back in the earlier part of summer this year and when I got word from his girlfriend that he was coming home, I KNEW I needed to document this!
When we arrived on base, my heart was racing! I was so excited and amazed and the amount of people that had come to welcome their friends and family home from their tour in Afghanistan.
As I reflect back on that cold Wisconsin day standing at the 115th Fighter Wing Base, I think of how much emotion, love, power and PRIDE was felt. The roar of the five fighter jets coming in for landing, the cheers of people applauding as the brave men and women took their first steps on American soil in months. The feelings I felt, the goosebumps on my skin as children ran to their parents, names were called out and two Daddys' got to meet their babies for the first time.
One thing I will never forget is Sophie running to Josh as he was walking towards the crowd, her screaming Daddy in excitement. I can picture Josh clutching her so tight as to never let go. Heather finally being in Josh's warm embrace after months of worry.
I documented these moments and I feel blessed and honored to have done so. I am humbled to have been on the base to welcome these brave men and women home. I am humbled to know just how many people sacrificed their lives for our country.
I firmly believe that a large portion of what goes into photography is attention to detail, feeling and capturing the emotions. Not being afraid to take that shot or trying new things. It is 100% acceptable to feel an emotional attachment to your clients, I feel that it helps to ignite that flame in your work. It feeds your soul. Finding something that you are passionate about will also help and for me, it is documenting large events like this.
I get chills every time I see the American Flag that I got this day sitting on my dresser, I get chills when I look through the images. Just yesterday, my oldest son came to me and said that he needed to make a welcome home sign for one of our local soldiers that will be coming home from deployment soon. I was ecstatic. Not many people know the emotion, the humbling feeling, your heart beating so fast, the adrenaline surge as you see the fighter jets flying in, people cheering and rushing to loved ones as they step foot on American soil for the first time in what could be months or years.
This day made me more proud to be an American citizen than I thought possible. This day is one that I will never forget.
Don't be afraid to be that photographer that has a passion, even if is one that others may not understand.