From the moment I started offering homecoming coverage, I heard it a lot… “I’m just going to have my friend take a couple pictures with my phone.” But this is a big moment, arguably one of the biggest in your relationship and life. Do you really want to trust these memories with your friend and her phone?
Homecomings are unpredictable, in every single aspect. You don’t get a “set” date until weeks before, and even then it can change a dozen times. I always tell my clients that a date is not “truly” set until they’re on the bus to come to the ceremony. It is my job as a homecoming photographer to be there, no matter what the time is. Whether it’s 5AM, 3PM, or in the middle of the night… I will be there.
To add to the craziness, homecomings are crowded and hectic. Everyone is crowded into a small space. We’re all there to welcome home a group of soldiers we haven’t seen in what seems like forever. Everyone is excited (and loud), ready to run to their soldier. There’s a lot going on. Your friends and family are there to support you, to welcome home your soldier, and to experience the rush that is a homecoming ceremony. I’m there for one reason: to photograph your moment. I’m not distracted by the craziness. Believe me when I say that I’ve seen it all. I have more stories from homecoming stories than I could share in a lifetime. So this craziness doesn’t phase me like it does others who haven’t experienced it.
The lighting alone is enough to kill a cell phone shot. Here at Fort Riley, the ceremonies are in one certain building. It’s pretty dark, with poor lighting. Phone shots are going to be blurry. Even friends with a “good camera” who don’t know how to control it are going to get blurry and dark photos. For my homecomings, I use the best gear possible. My camera can handle the low, dull lighting. If your ceremony happens to be outside like they are at Fort Stewart, that presents even more challenges. Mid-day lighting is harsh. Middle of the night homecomings are dark. Phones can’t handle these conditions the way that a professional can. And they can make this light beautiful.
Another huge factor is knowing how to capture the emotion and details. Your friend might not think to capture your face when you first see your soldier – they’ll be looking too. I’m focused on you. Your friend might not take photos of your signs, the details of your outfit, or that text that says “We’re almost there.” These details are all part of the day, much like the ring-shot is a part of your wedding day. I’m there to photograph those details and emotions. I’m there to photograph you.
If you are going to hire a professional, you need to make sure of a few things. They need to have experience. Homecomings are like nothing else in the photography world. They’re fast paced, unpredictable, emotional, wild, and a million other things. They aren’t like photographing a normal session. Find someone who has a few under their belt, so they know what to expect. Even more importantly, make sure they are available 24/7. Your homecoming date will likely change, and probably won’t be at an “ideal” time of day. Of all the homecomings I’ve photographed, less than five have been in the evening after the workday has ended or on a weekend. About 80% of the ceremonies I’ve attended fall during the workday or the middle of the night. Make sure your photographer can be there.
Homecomings are some of the most magical moments in your life. Reuniting with your soldier is a moment you’ll never forget. Trust those moments to someone who knows how to capture them in all of their beauty ♥︎
Now booking homecomings through August at Fort Riley, KS. Please inquire for other locations.