Saturday, February 8, 2020

So You Want to Photograph a Military Homecoming...

You see those beautiful emotional images of a solider reuniting with his wife and children; tears running down faces, arms wide open... And you think to yourself... "I wish I could photograph a homecoming!" 

But do you, really? 

Photographing Military Homecomings are NOT for the faint-hearted. They require dedication, LOTS of flexibility, long hours, and most importantly, a quick trigger finger. When you book a homecoming you DO NOT know the date and time. You may get a month or two as an estimate. And sometimes, that will get extended three or four times like the USS Abraham Lincoln did this January. Sometimes, they end up overlapping with sessions already on the books and, from time to time, OTHER HOMECOMINGS. Sometimes, it even means dropping your kids off at the sitter for a late-night arrival or even calling the sitter and having to ask them to stay for another 4 hours because the homecoming has been delayed. 

I'll be honest, I am never fully prepared to photograph a Homecoming. I check my camera bag about 20 separate times; extra memory cards, check; extra batteries, check; external light, check... Just before leaving the house. I still get nervous and shaky the moments before the Sailors or Marines are released. Even after 50+ Homecomings, I get the jitters. I tell myself over and over again the best lighting angles, ask my clients questions about if they're a "runner or jumper" so I can make sure I am ready to capture that; check my camera settings over and over. It's INTENSE and emotional. I can only imagine how my client is feeling at that exact moment. 

You will need to become a backbone and shoulder to cry on for your client. 

They are as nervous as ever. They made lots of plans to ensure the day would be perfect. Spent hours and days searching for the perfect outfit, children's outfits, hairstyles, nail color, and perfecting their homecoming sign. All to hope their Photographer would capture every second perfectly in photo form. And through all of this, they're also worried about YOU. 

Will you flake out last minute, will you miss a moment? Will you ghost them and run off with their deposit? Did you double book on accident, or on purpose? What happens if you're not available because you have something "more important" to photograph like a wedding? The list and worries go on and on. 

It is up to YOU to have a strong and reliable back up plan. Its also up to YOU to reassure your client of your ability, dedication, and desire to be there no matter the time of day or the weather and no matter your prior obligations. You will be THERE. With THEM. Through all of the emotions, tears, hugs, and kisses to document everything as it is for them to hold onto and remember for years to come. 

So now I will ask, do YOU want to photograph Homecomings? Are you ready? 

If you do decide to, here are a few other quick tips:

1. Be VERY flexible with dates and times. 
2. Only book ONE family per unit/ship/squadron/platoon.
3. Know the security requirements for the base you're going to.
4. Be PRESENT but give space. 
5. Give same day sneak peeks! If you don't, they'll just use a cell phone photo. 
6. Lastly, enjoy it!

Best wishes on your Photography journey,

FC2 Morgan Liberatore USN
Wife, Mother, Sailor, Photographer

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Marine Recruit Family Day | 2nd Battalion Fox Company Platoons 2121-2127 |MCRD San Diego, CA

Marine Recruit Family Day | 2nd Battalion Fox Company Platoons 2121-2127 |MCRD San Diego, CA

"I became a Marine because I wanted to instill discipline in myself and see if I had it in me to overcome the challenges of boot camp. Now I not only have earned the title but I have also found my place in a brotherhood that will last a lifetime and have learned that the only limits we have are the ones we set for ourselves. The Marine Corps has set me up for success and has given me the mental and physical strength to tackle any obstacle that comes before me." -PFC Brody Fink

PFC Brody Fink USMC 2020

FAMILY DAY - The day you get to see your Marine for the first time in person!! Mommas, you get to wrap your arms around them tightly and for the next 10 days. 

There is NO limit on the number of family members that can come to celebrate with your Marine; it's just recommended that you arrive early to ensure you can get through the gate.

Family Day Schedule of events is as follows:

0630-0900 - Family Day Breakfast Buffet - optional (shuttle stop)
0900 - Drill Instructors Brief
0930 - Motivational Run/Company - The first time you'll lay eyes on your marine!
1030 - Marine Corps 101 - Depot Theater
1200 - Liberty Formation - Depot Theater FIRST HUG will happen right when released! 
1220-1700 (1800 during DST) - Depot Liberty - Your new Marine is welcome to spend time with you but you can not leave the Depot. 

Below are images of the Fink family waiting to see their new Marine. Make sure to scroll all the way down to see momma Fink hugging her 2nd oldest for the first time as a United States Marine and the surprise she's brought with them. 

First time seeing her Marine

Shaking Veteran Fathers hand for the first time as a new Marine

Guess who made a surprise appearance?! 

tap tap

I was also very blessed to have seen PFC Fink after Graduation and was able to capture these portraits below

If you like what you see and you have a poolie coming through MCRD San Diego, CA you also can have photos like these! Check my availability and sign up located HERE

Hope to see you at the next Family day and Graduation Day!