For the past several weeks, I’ve been brainstorming writing about how to best photograph your military family. Having spent the past decade as an army wife, I thought that maybe I’d have some insight to share, some foolproof tips to help other military families as they document a life that is rife with challenges that many can’t begin to imagine. A life of unpredictable uncertainty.
Last week my husband flew to the desert of the western United States for yet another training mission. It’s life as we know it. He’s gone often, sometimes with only a few weeks in between trips. We try to make the most of having him home and we were actually thankful for this short week-long excursion. On Sunday, he boarded a homebound plane out of Las Vegas and landed safely later that evening. Just over an hour after his plane landed, a gunman unleashed terror from his lofty perch high above the crowds…a crowd my husband was a part of the very evening before. I learned the following day that my cousin, a concertgoer, was among those shot. (She survived and will live the rest of her life with a bullet lodged in her shoulder). Fifty-nine murdered and one who took his own life, not to mention the hundreds of others who were terrorized and wounded. And so, as I sat down to write, I found that I simply didn’t have any words.
A few days went by and I once again sat down to gather my thoughts and write something photographically helpful. But then I was assaulted with the news that three American Green Berets were killed in Africa and two more were injured. They were in the same unit as my husband, deployed to a region of the world my husband spent time in previously, and one he will revisit in the future. (Please excuse my vagueness, one can never be too careful). Once again, I didn’t have the words.
Obviously, the events of this week have hit me close to home but that’s the thing…it could hit any of us close to home at any time. There is no safety net in life. You are guaranteed the very moment you are living and nothing more. So, here’s my top tip; my number one piece of advice for documenting your life, military or otherwise: Don’t stop. Don’t stop taking pictures because you fell like you’ve run out of creative ideas. Don’t put your camera down because your kids complain. Don’t fail to get in the frame because you didn’t apply your makeup or you want to lose ten pounds first. Don’t take any of it for granted. Don’t stop recording the moments that make up your beautifully complicated life.
There are 63 grieving families this week who would give anything for another moment to record; Sixty-three grieving families who have only those recorded moments to hold onto.
Pick up your camera right now and go take a picture of someone you love. Don’t overanalyze it, just enjoy it. Keep it. You’ll never regret doing it. But you may regret if you don’t.