Key Tips for Booking a Military Homecoming Photographer – Camp Pendleton Photographer
When I began my photography business I was stationed for several years in locations that did not have regular deployment rotations. Sure, service members traveled A LOT, but not on whole unit deployments. Fast forward to summer 2018 and we’re back at a base where deployment rotations happen on the regular. It’s a Catch-22 though. I was excited to start photographing homecomings and family reunions, but that means the families have gone months and months separated. However, this is military life and deployments are always part of the equation.
With that, a few tips on securing a photographer for your own family’s and service member’s homecoming.
Find Someone EARLY!!!
I know it sounds completely crazy, start reaching out to local photographers that you love early versus later. Especially for very large deployments that include numerous units; photographers are booked oftentimes before the service member even leaves on deployment. I hate that I have to turn away so many families, but once one family hires me I’m unable to take on any others.
Hire A Photographer Who Understands A Deployment
This is not to say that you shouldn’t at all hire a non military spouse photographer. However, a photographer who is also a military spouse understands OPSEC and the changes that can take place within hours of the homecoming. Plus if you don’t need to sign someone onto the base while you are under a great amount of stress and anxiety leading up the homecoming is also an added benefit!
An Airport Homecoming is no Less Special
I get this question often. Should I still get a photographer even if he’s coming home via the city airport versus on base with the unit? Yes! You and your family feel no less relieved and happy when they arrive in civilian clothes versus in uniform on a base. And for me it’s pretty fun to see the reactions of others coming in on various flights!
Stress Reducer and Fly on the Wall
Yep, I try to do both! The minutes leading up to the unit arriving in eyesight is nervewracking! If I can be an old wife for a minute. I’m a wee bit jealous that spouses now can get up to the minute updates on where their significant other is in the homecoming process with smart phones!! Haha! “Back in my day”….
I digress. Even with that you are still nervous, want the kids to be angels (haha!) and maybe even a little bit feel like you’re going to throw up! I will do a song and dance and talk about dumb stuff to keep your mind off it all.
At the same time I go to fly on the wall status as soon as those vans and buses roll in so I can get those precious shots of you and your family finally reuniting after 6+ months away from one another. I won’t lie, I tear up a lot too. Throw in a baby daddy has never met and I’m a mess! But I shoot through it all from a few feet away to try to give you a bit of “privacy”.
Just know I love these sessions. They fill my photographer tank up and my sappy tank too. Seeing families come back together is one of my very favorites!