Las Vegas OpLove Photographer: Welcome Home

Happy 4th of July!  I hope today that you are celebrating our freedom and remembering the brave who continue to serve our country in so many ways so that we can be the Land of the Free – from the police officers, firefighters, paramedics, to our military service members there are so many who sacrifice so much for our freedom and safety.  Today, as you are celebrating – stop and remember them and their families, especially those who won’t get to be home celebrating with their loved ones.

As with the rest of this week, I’m celebrating the week by blogging some of the best homecomings I’ve had this month (okay who am I kidding – I seriously adore each and every homecoming that I’m privilaged to capture for families!).  Today, I bring you one of the most adorable, head over heels in love couples you’ll meet.   From my first emails back and forth with Nikki, I could tell.  Then as the time approached for the big day and we chatted to confirm details – it was just reinforced.  But I tell you, the day of the homecoming there wasn’t anyone in the airport that couldn’t tell how in love these two were!  As we waited for the flight, Nikki and I talked about how they had met and their travels so far, things they were looking forward to this summer.  And it wasn’t just her face that glowed when she talked about Mike, I’m pretty sure her entire body just glowed.  It is amazing to not just hear about someone being in love, but to literally be able to see that love shining through.

Waiting of course, takes forever!  Those last few minutes seem to crawl by.   The anticipation really is almost too much to take, but the minute the plane was pulling in the glow was unmistakable.   And as soon as Mike was off the plane, I think the entire airport disappeared for them, it was just them finally, finally getting to be back together again.   I may have had a few tears escape while I was shooting…I think everyone at the gate did!   Welcome home!

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The photos and other content of this publication do not imply any endorsement or recommendation by the Department of Defense. For more information about OpLove visit www.oplove.org or email me! Thank you so much for letting me be there to capture these moments for you.

Las Vegas OpLove Photographer: Welcome Home Double Header Part 2

Yesterday I blogged about a wonderful homecoming that was actually a double header so to speak…both heroes were arriving on the same flight.  With a few last minute changes, we weren’t able to have a second shooter come join us for the big event but Brooke graciously tried to coordinate with her husband to wait a little bit so he’d get off last (goodness, I can only imagine asking that…cause it’s already been so long and those last few minutes take forever as it is!).  It was the best way we could all think so that I would be able to capture both reunions.  Of course, like the rest of life there were a few unexpected hiccups and I wasn’t quite able to capture the reunion of her husband greeting her and her boys as I envisioned but was able to capture a few absolutely sweet moments of hugs and kisses and checking out how much those boys have grown!  I was thrilled to be there for them, having done a predeployment session for the family and seeing them throughout the time between these two made it even more special for me.   The boys’ smiles (& Brooke’s too) said it all!  Welcome Home!

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The photos and other content of this publication do not imply any endorsement or recommendation by the Department of Defense. For more information about OpLove visit www.oplove.org or email me! Thank you so much for letting me be there to capture these moments for you.

Las Vegas OpLove Photographer: Welcome Home Double Header Part 1

What a better way to celebrate July 4th – Independence Day, then celebrating our heroes and their families!  This past month has been a whirlwind of homecomings – and that just makes me so happy!  I have a few that need to be caught up and blogged, because really there’s not much better than a homecoming in my book!
This was a special day was a double header – there were two families who had heroes coming home on the same flight (actually there were a number of heroes coming home – it was an awesome day for reunions!).   This sweet wife contacted me months before about being there for her husband’s homecoming, her three girls would be so excited to have dad back home and they were going to try and surprise the youngest.   When I found out that another family that I have worked with in the past and are dear to me also had a hero coming home on the same flight, they were so sweet and said of course go ahead and shoot for them both.  We couldn’t get a backup there for the afternoon’s flight so I did my best to capture both amazing homecomings.
The girls were a blast to be around – mom was so calm and patient through the waiting and waiting.   There was starbucks, some silly songs, and music, and of course photos being taken I’m sure for sharing online while the girls waited.  It was such a treat to see the older girls just as excited for dad to be coming home, it really did melt my heart.   As the time got closer, we all headed over to where the passengers would be departing – and let me tell you there were so many happy, anxious families waiting for someone to step off the plane!  I really thought that the four of us had our eyes on the door at all times – but somehow dad was ninja like and snuck off the plane without anyone seeing him and surprised everyone!   There were hugs and cheers plenty at the gate and then even more hugs and cheers at baggage claim were so many co-workers and friends were there to say welcome home as well!   Thank you for letting me be there to capture your special day!

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Las Vegas Family Photographer: Get in the Frame Friday

It’s Friday #3 for our summer break since I started the challenge and I’m happy to report I haven’t failed at meeting the goal yet…and yes I’m celebrating for 3 completed weeks, because honestly it’s so hard to stick to things like this for me.  Once I tried to do a photo a day of me and the kids together – it was great for about a week, sigh.  And this week I even have 2 different days!  Shocking isn’t it?
The first is from last Friday night actually ( but it was after I blogged for Friday already!).  My husband & I celebrated 10 years of marriage – crazy how fast that went!  I have been truly blessed with a wonderful husband, we have had some crazy adventures in the last 10 years and I’m looking forward to seeing where the next 10 years take us.  And while the adventures have been quite the combination of wonderful and hard I am thankful for each of them because they have helped us to grow, to learn, and to continue to lean on God for strength.   We made sure to snap a quick picture together before we  headed out to dinner.  And then two of my little people wanted pictures with mommy too (the oldest boy was in his room with a good book).
Las Vegas Family Photographer, Get in the Frame Friday, The second one was at a Las Vegas 51’s baseball game.  We went with friends and had a fabulous time.  The kids got to take their little point and shoot and it was so much fun to see what they came up with for pictures that evening.   This was photo was grabbed by husband with that little point and shoot – because I knew I wanted a picture that included me too.
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How about you?  How’d you do this week getting in the frame with your family?

Las Vegas Family Photographer: Spring Preserve Family Session

I remember the first time I talked to Joelle I knew right away that the session would be amazing!  It is always exciting to meet new a family and capture them on camera.  Her sweet kiddos were so funny and sweet to each other and their mom and dad.  And adorable, absolutely adorable.  We planned the session with a bit of limited wiggle room in the schedules based on the location choice.  Spring Preserve is a beautiful place and the trails are full of spots to stop and explore, as well as taking portraits.  It was quite bright outside this evening because we weren’t able to shoot as late as is ideal because of closing time to take into account.  It was something that was discussed prior to the session but decided that the location was key and we forged ahead!   (I love being able to educate clients about options and giving options for sessions, sometimes the location is key and part of hiring a photographer is knowing that you can work around situations that may not be ideal or perfect to fit a session in as needed based on location or time of day).
There were so many favorites from the session, Joelle has a beautiful family and I loved getting to know this sweet family!

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Las Vegas Family Photographer: Get in the Frame Friday

We have had a bit of a crazy, kind of quiet, kind of loud, scheduled yet completely last minute and chaotic week this week.   I suppose that’s the norm though – I start the week with good plans, a schedule of things that must be done, an idea of plans I hope to do and activities we’d like to fit in and then life happens and we try to somehow juggle, manage and squeeze it all in without squeezing in too much and finding that sweet spot of summer break that is carefree days yet not so unstructured that my kids end up driving me crazy bored.Get in the Frame Friday, dance recital, Las Vegas Family Photographer
The camera took a bit of a back seat for me this week (I did pull it out at the pool to capture some summer time playing there this week) but there aren’t photos from every day – and I wasn’t in too many of them.  I know, I know…I promised I’d be in them and I did manage to get in a few from last weekend after my daughter’s dance recital, it was a day we all wanted to remember – her first recital and she had a blast and loved being on stage, so I did hand the camera to my husband and made sure I was in the frame too.  How about you?  Did you get in the frame this week?  I would love to see!Las Vegas Family Photographer, Get in the Frame Friday, dance recital

6 Tips to Capturing Homecomings for Friends

I have been so very blessed lately to capture many homecomings for wonderful families who have welcomed their heroes home, but I also  have unfortunately not been able to capture each family’s homecoming who contacted me about being there.  It really does make me so sad when I have to say no that I cannot be there for a family.   I always pray that they have a friend who can come with them and capture the moments for their family – whether they are a photographer or not because those moments are worth capturing!
I also just this past week came across a link to a wonderfully written post on MCPAction’s blog by another military wife and photographer, Melissa Gephardt (you can find her on Facebook here).  She had some absolute spot on, perfect tips for capturing a homecoming – go read her tips here.  This article is just so well written, and even if you are unfamiliar with military life would be a huge benefit to read up on before you head out to help capture these precious moments for your friend.
So, I can hear you saying, I’m not a professional and I’m not sure I can capture the moments well.   STOP right there!  Yes, seriously I’m talking to you, you can do this!  Likely your friend has gone months without their significant other, they’ve been juggling so much and you’ve been there to help and support them.  You absolutely CAN do this!  And while you may feel a bit intimidated, I promise that your company while they wait & allowing them to be in the moment without worrying about a camera will be a huge help!
Here are a few tips to remember…

OpLove, Welcome Home, Las Vegas Military Family Photographer1. Be flexible and honest with your friend about possible hiccups in plans.  Homecomings are nortorious for changing, there is so much to coordinate and so many opportunities for delays, that it is very much expected that there will be at least one or more delays.  If you know you can only help if it happens on time, let them know that.  They’re going to be a bundle of nerves and emotions, and having that information ahead of time will help calm frustrations to one more change in their plans if you’re not able to be there with them.

OpLove, Welcome Home, Las Vegas Military Family Photographer2. Know the plan (and then remember to be flexible!).  Are you a photographer at heart who has your camera & will be much more comfortable using it than her’s?  Or maybe she has a kick butt camera and you’d love to use her camera instead of your phone or a point and shoot (and people…I’m telling you either one of those is a much better option than no camera at all, no looking down on what you’ve got!).  If you’re going to be using her gear, get together a bit before the big day and get to know it!  Are there kids coming to the homecoming?  Who’s reaction will she want captured first?  It’s going to be a lot of hurry up and wait until the actual time of reunion and then it’s completely a blur, so talk about that ahead of time too and remember that when you’re positioning yourself for the big moment.

OpLove, Welcome Home, Las Vegas Military Family Photographer3. Have backups:  Have backup batteries & memory cards for the camera of course, but it’s also a good idea to have a back up of some other essentials.  Tuck a little pack of tissues in your bag.  Depending on where the homecoming is taking place, it may also be a good idea to tuck your charger for your cell phone in your bag (bonus if you guys share a charger).  If you know her kids, you can also tuck in a little snack or treat that you know his kids would enjoy (avoid sticky things if you can), a little things of wipes for little ones.  Having something to sustain the two of you is also nice if there are additional delays that weren’t expected when you headed out for the homecoming.  Don’t weigh your bag down & over think it, but a couple extra things may make a big difference in an extended wait time.OpLove, Welcome Home, Las Vegas Military Family Photographer4. Remember the details:  There will be a lot of planning that goes into the day, from posters and welcome  home signs to what each member of the family is wearing.  Capture those moments for her as well.  Are the kids sporting new shirts she ordered from Etsy or maybe they each created their own special shirt to celebrate mom coming home, snap a few pictures of those precious memories!  My middle guy wanted to wear a tie the last time his daddy came  home, because it was a special day and on special days you wear a tie in his 4 year old mind, I love that I have pictures of him proudly wearing that tie.  You know your friend too, so remember to capture the small things about her as well.  It might be a new dress and shoes, or the fact that as she is nervous she plays with her necklace.  If you’re at the airport, take a picture of the gate number if you’ve gone to the gate to greet the hero or maybe it’s on base/post and there are signs everywhere celebrating an entire unit coming home – capture those!

Welcome Home, OpLove, Las Vegas Military Family Photographer5.  Remember your friend:  You have likely walked beside her (or him!) during this journey.  You’ve been a supporter and a cheerleader for her throughout.  Today she’s going to need you to be a supporter and a cheerleader and a pair of ears.  The last hour before the big moment can seem to just drag on forever and time will probably seem like it is moving at snail pace for her & kids too.  Chit chat about things, plans for the evening or the rest of the week, funny stories, whatever comes to mind it doesn’t have to be about the homecoming.  Silence isn’t always a bad thing either, try to find the balance that fits for your friend and what she needs.

OpLove, Las Vegas Military Family Photographer, Welcome Home6. Remember your patience: Patience can fade quickly for little ones who are so filled with excitement and emotion – having a little extra patience for them is always helpful as your friend is likely filled with just as much or more emotion and anticipation.  It’s okay if there is a melt down, it’s okay if there is a fit of tears by a child or maybe they are suddenly shy.  Remember that this has been an emotional trying period for them and sometimes those emotions are hard for us to express as adults, even more so for the little heroes in our lives.

OpLove, Welcome Home, Las Vegas Military Family PhotographerAbove all enjoy being there for your friend and their family, enjoy the privilege of witnessing a wonderful and emotional moment in their life.  It truly is an honor to be asked to be part of something so special for a family!