The Homecoming Experience

IMG_3008

I’ve been shooting Military homecoming ceremonies for several years now. (While  l love them, my heart aches that we’ve made this a part of our normal life.) I’ve photographed soldiers coming home to their wives, children, parents,  and friends. I’ve photographed them meeting their babies, reconnecting with their children, watching their babies ( infants when they left) walking and talking. I’ve seen the tears and excitement from soldiers and families. I’ve also shed those tears and felt that excitement for them. I’ve been through two personal homecomings myself as well. I know what a crazy time it is!  I can honestly say, every homecoming is unique to itself.

However, there are a few things that happen, without fail.
The homecoming experience, at least, what they’re like here at Fort Hood, Texas.

You said goodbye  9-12 months ago and now you’re getting ready to say hello again. You’re excited. You’re nervous. You’re overwhelmed, You’re ready. Chances are you’re one or all of the above. (I can tell you now, this is normal!) “This is my first homecoming, I don’t know what to expect!” Well I hope this article will help you better understand what a homecoming is like when you hire me to be your homecoming photographer. Chances are, your soldier has given you a round about time that they’re coming home. You start your search for the perfect photographer for your family.
Some things you’ll need when contacting you photographer ( hopefully me if you’re reading this!)

  • -Estimated timeframe
  • -Unit/ Troop they’re coming home with
  • -Location of the ceremony
  • -Who will be involved
  • -What you’re expecting from your homecoming

HOMECOMING-killeen-fort-hood-Austin-texas-photographer_0186.jpg

I book homecomings based on the unit/troop information, not the time/date of the homecoming. Why? Because your date/ time of the homecoming is likely to change multiple times coming up to the actual homecoming. I will not book two clients from the same troop/unit and timeframe. :) So, the most information you give me, the better I can plan to make sure I don’t book two people just because the information I got from you guys was vague.

You’ve looked over my website/ Facebook  saw images, checked out my investment guide and my what to expect and you’re ready to hire me! Sweet! Normally, if you try to book me more than 6 months out, I’ll email you back letting you know to check back with me closer to date. ( Just because of how much homecomings & schedules can change during that timeframe. )

Now that we’re in the homecoming window, it’s pretty simple. If we’re a good fit and I’m not already booked for the homecoming, we’ll discuss details on your homecoming. I’l send you my online session contract, which is how you’ll sign your contract and make your sessions fee payment. All homecoming’s come with a complimentary high resolution disk as a thank you. So once you’ve made your sessions fee payment, you won’t need to purchase anything else. :) Once your contract is signed and your session fee is paid, we’re good to go! You’ll just keep me updated on any changes. (Normally you can text me to get ahold of me quickly)

It’s homecoming day! The stress is almost over! Today is the day! You’re as ready as you’re ever going to be.

Plan to arrive an hour before homecoming time to get a good spot to sit and enjoy the pre-ceremony fun. Every homecoming is different but some units really put a lot of effort into homecoming ceremonies, enjoy it ! I’ll arrive an hour before the ceremony is supposed to start.

During this time I will:

  • -meet up with you, normally by texting you seeing where you’re located
  • -surveying the area
  • -ill be getting detail shots
  • -don’t panic if you don’t see me here and there. Chances are, I’m photographing things behind the scene!

Once the ceremony gets ready to begin, I’ll find the best place for me to be to photograph your homecoming. :) I’ll work continuously from then until your soldier is already in your arms and you have taken your first breath of relief. I’ll then grab a few
posed images of you guys and let you get to your bags so you can go HOME! After the ceremony, I’ll head home and typically have your sneak peeks posted on my Facebook fan page that day or the next ( depending on the day & time of the homecoming). You can tag yourself, make it your profile image, cover photo or share them.

HOMECOMING-killeen-fort-hood-Austin-texas-photographer_0080.jpgPlease do not download your images, edit your images, or crop your images.
( I know some mobile devices will not let you change your profile image without cropping. You can avoid that by doing it on a computer. :) Your images will take 3-4 weeks to be ready for pick up. Once they’re ready I’ll email you for a good pickup time and location. Here are some tips for a good homecoming outcome.

  • – Attire. (Think family friendly Sunday BBQ. I’m not saying wear your Church clothes, but definitely be mindful that this is a family event.
  • -Shoes. Want to wear heels? Make sure the heels are comfortable, and bring a change of flats just in case its delayed and you need to change.
  • (is your ceremony on a field? Ditch the heels all together. You’ll thank me later)
  • -kids. Small children bring a stroller, even if it’s just to hold your belongings. bring snacks, juice, wipes, and small things to keep them occupied.
  • -Balloons? No. It might seem crazy, but chances are, if you’re trying to hold balloons while your soldier is coming home, they’re going to get in your way and my way when I’m trying to take pictures. If you want to tie them to a stroller, go for it, but holding on? You’ll regret it halfway through.
  • -Make-up. Waterproof ladies! ( I even cry during homecomings!)
  • -mints / gum – Thank me later.
  • -Charge your phone prior to leaving the house. Chances are you’re going to be snapping pictures on your phone most likely, which kills your battery.
  • -Communicate. if your husband took his cell phone there, make sure it’s activated so when he hits stateside you can text him. While this may not seem
    like a big deal, it helps, a lot! You can let him know exactly where you’re at on the homecoming field, so you guys are not lost trying to find each other.
  • -Stay put. Which brings me to this major lifesaver. STAY PUT. Let him know where you’ll be! When they release the soldiers, do not run to the sea of soldiers.
  • This ends in running in circles trying to find each other. Instead, stay put and wait for him to find you. (They really ALL look the same at the ceremony. )
  • -The 2 am homecoming.  Each person is going to be different when it comes to overnight homecomings and children. Decide what your plan B will be if conditions make it difficult to have your children there. (weather, time of homecoming, sick, or surprise!)
  • Stay Calm. Regardless go how crazy homecoming day becomes, stay calm, they’ll be in your arms before you know it. :)

Fort-hood-homecoming-photographer_0148I have to include this, because there is also the potential. Because homecoming dates/ times are so unknown, the only reason I would not be able to shoot your homecoming is if it happened while I was scheduled for a wedding or a sessions that I could in no way reschedule. Although very unlikely, there is always a small possibility. If this happens. I will refund you and help you find another photographer.  That being said, I don’t normally face this issue. :)