Mike and Hannah Lugar {Military Homecoming Photoshoot, Pittsburgh PA}

About a month ago I received a last minute request from a deployed soldier, Mike, to photograph his homecoming reuniting with his wife, Hannah.  Some of their plans had fallen through so they reached out to me to see if I was available.  Although I'd never been asked to photograph a homecoming I jumped at the opportunity and I'm glad I was able to document this for them.  

If you are a part of a military family or are close to one, then you likely know what an emotional event it is when your soldier both leaves and returns from deployment.  If you are not, it's not exactly easy to describe.  Most husbands and wives are never tested the way that military couples are - having to go nearly a year without being able to hug, touch, kiss, or lean on your significant other.  If you are married or in a long term relationship think of all the things you rely on from your other half.  All of a sudden what used to be split between two is now stuffed onto one set of shoulders.  But besides that, what is missed the most is simple - companionship, and all that that entails.  You miss talking to them over breakfast or arguing over who will wash the dishes.  You miss sitting on the couch watching your favorite show with the warmth of their leg pressed against your own.  You miss venting to them when you come home from work or crying on their shoulder when you're overstressed.  You miss laughing with them over dinner in your favorite restaurant or looking at them in a crowded room and knowing how they are feeling.  Their absence stares at you every morning and every night from the empty half of the bed.  The entire time they are gone your life is punctuated by their void and peppered with anxiety born from knowing that where they are is not a safe place.

When they finally, FINALLY, are able to come home, there are butterflies in your stomach and sleepless nights from excitement - as if your a child waiting for Santa on Christmas!  And after all this time you've gotten so used to living alone, and military delays (nothing is ever on time!) that when you're finally there, waiting for your spouse, you can't believe it's actually happening and the day has finally come and you have both made it through this to the other side!

Well...I didn't intend to go off the deep end there, it just kind of happened...So, let's get to the photos!

Of course it happened to be a chilly and rainy rainy day!  (Should have seen me - I did not have proper rain gear and ended up with walmart bags on my camera!  Not too professional looking but they did the job.  I have some pro rain covers now if I need them in a pinch ;) ) 

I actually got stuck in traffic on my way there and even though I left early I was panicking that I would be late!  Luckily I made it about 15 minutes before they arrived.  I met Hannah and took a few photos while we waited.  As soon as the buses came into view Hannah started tearing up.  We didn't know the exact point the buses would stop (on the road? in the parking lot?) and everyone was scattered about.

Finally Hannah saw Mike in the crowd and ran to meet him!  It was such an exciting and emotional moment!

After they had a few moments to reunite they had to head on over and gather his bags.

Normally, this is probably where the shoot would have ended.  They are anxious to get out of here and get home and out of the rain, understandable!  But I did ask if they'd like to take a few more photos and since they agreed I rushed around to get a few more shots and get them out of there!  I wish I could have taken my time a little more, but I really didn't want to hold them up too long - we were already the last one's there by the time we were done.

The rainy day and late winter season combined with the camouflage made it a bit difficult to create some "pop" in the photos - luckily I brought a flag to use as a quick prop!  I'm sooo glad I did!  I love these photos below!

The stars and stripes really helped bring some color to this dreary day!  The next one is my favorite! 

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<3   I finished up with a couple other shots in the rain and then we went on our way!  

Thank you for your service Mike, and thank you Hannah for your sacrifice!

Jamie LeonardComment