Nathan’s Homecoming

Posted on February 9, 2012

This is Nathan’s 3rd and final deployment. He is home now…for good. :)

I can not imagine going through the departing and reuniting once…let alone 3 times.

Nathan flew into BWI on a domestic flight. His children were unaware of this, they thought he was on the large international flight with 371 (yes, you read that right) servicemen returning at the same time. So Jen decided to surprise the kids even further.
Jen and I snuck off while the kids were helping the USO make care bags for the returning men and women and we met Nathan’s flight in the domestic area. Then we walked back and Nathan crept up from behind.
It was wonderful….their son was so overcome it choked me up….
Thank you Nathan and Jen….for the sacrifices you have made…
We are all greatly indebted. ?

OpLove – Deployment Session

Posted on October 18, 2011

I never tire of shooting sessions for the Operation Love Reunited organization… I wish I could do them all the time…

Kara had contacted me through the OpLove website and also on a recommendation from a friend of mine, a fellow photographer who used to shoot for OpLove. Kara had been deployed a few years back and had done an OpLove session back then.

We met at Patapsco State Park and had fun even though it was a bit chilly.

Kara is being deployed the first of the year and when she returns…her husband will be deployed for 6 months.

I’m so happy I was able to do this for you and your family, Kara! I hope you enjoy them…and thank you and you husband so much for your service to our country…we are all EXTREMELY grateful! :)

OpLove Homecoming at National

Posted on July 11, 2011

Annabelle contacted me just a couple days before her husband was to arrive from being deployed. It worked out perfectly that I was able to have a clearing in my schedule to be able to be there for their family. All three kids were so excited and happy to see daddy.

I love doing homecomings…thanks Annabelle and Adam for letting me be there for this magical time for you. :)

OpLove – Homecoming

Posted on March 25, 2011

I was contacted by Andrew while he was still in Iraq…he was coming home and he wanted to surprise his wife (of only 4 months before he was called for duty) with pictures of their reunion. Pictures mean a lot to them and this would make her so happy. Andrew and I emailed back and forth and it was all set…I would show up at BWI and sneak around snapping images trying not to be to obvious.

Andrew’s dad, Bob, came and found me while the rest of the family was upstairs having a drink to calm their anxiousness for Andrew’s arrival.

What a wonderful family!!! Bob told me that Andrew’s 3 friends from kindergarten (yes, I know!) flew in from all over the country to see him come home. Andrew had no idea. So there were surprises all around….I could feel the strength of the love they have for each other….

The tension was so thick as we stood there and waited for his flight…his friends kept asking people if they had been on the same flight number Andrew had as there were a bunch of flights that all came in at the same time…we were all so giddy with anticipation…

Then…there he was…and I could feel everyone’s breath come out in a big exhale as everyone was laughing and crying….I love being able to do this.

Thanks Andrew and Kelly….you can now go watch your wedding video that Kelly hasn’t been able to watch since you’ve been gone. And I hope you enjoy these….

When we give back to others, we are also giving to ourselves.

Posted on March 9, 2011

I firmly believe this. That feeling of elation is like no other. Knowing that you have touched someone’s heart by giving of yourself.

I started shooting for the organization Operation Love Reunited (OpLove) a year ago. I was nervous in the beginning, as with any new experience. I wanted to be able to do these families justice for having to sacrifice so much for our country. My first homecoming was a little nerve racking. I wanted to be able to capture that magic moment when a person sees their loved one finally after being apart. That smile, that exhale of anxiety that comes from the fear of not knowing what will happen until they are back safe in their arms.

I get choked up watching a child anticipate seeing their parent walk through the door and run to them being scooped up in their arms and hugging so hard as if they would never let go. The emotion rushes through me and my camera captures it when it does.

I believe that my experience photographing weddings helped me out tremendously. The patience I learned to observe without interfering and wait for emotion to happen and to just be ready when it did.

Shooting for OpLove has become a great love of mine. The families help me as much as I help them.

If you, or someone you know, have family or friends in our country’s armed forced who are deployed abroad or going to be, I highly suggest you check out the OpLove website. The organization hooks up photographers in your area with families offering complimentary photography sessions. It’s our way of giving back a little for the huge sacrifice they have made. Families are allowed one pre-deployment session (or mid-diployment) and one homecoming session. Small 4×6 albums are then sent to the deployed service member.

These are just a few of my favorite moments (from the many!) from these sessions….

OpLove – 5am arrival

Posted on January 28, 2011

When Christine contacted me, her husband was due into BWI from overseas at 6:30pm on Saturday evening. As I am well aware, these times change constantly and when the time was finally nailed down to 5am on Sunday morning, I thought…Oh my gosh…that is EARLY!

But then I thought, OK, if this guy can serve our country for a year away from his wife and daughter…the LEAST I can do is get to BWI at 5am…..

Thank you so much for sacrificing for our country…I hope you enjoy these, Christine. :)

OpLove – Homecoming – Foster family

Posted on November 6, 2010

I really love shooting for OpLove…especially when I can shoot for a family I know personally. It really means so much more to be able to offer them what I do.

I have known the Foster family for quite a while. Nicole was my daughter’s pre-school and pre-kindergarten teacher and is now Ben’s pre-school teacher. Their family belongs to the pool we belong to. They are a sweet, loving family.

I shot their portrait session back in June when Calvin came home for a short few weeks.

When I first arrived at the airport, I thought that he would be arriving with a bunch of other service people. Come to find out….that huge group of people were all there to see HIM come home….so beautiful and overwhelming….

Nicole even set off the security alarm because she ran past the part where you’re NOT supposed to go pass to hug him…lol

I hope you enjoy your images guys…thanks so much for letting me be a part of this spectacular day! :)

OpLove Session

Posted on September 16, 2010

Heather found me through the OpLove website and we shared many emails back and forth about her husbands arrival. When it comes to homecomings in the military, arrival times change on a daily basis. It’s something I am used to and as long as I am able to, I will do everything in my power to be available for the special day.  We finally got the time nailed down the day before and I met her at the gate at Andrew’s Airforce Base. Heather was all bubbly and nervous and I could feel the tension in the hangar as we entered and many families were anxiously awaiting their loved ones.

We finally got the message that his plane was on it’s final approach and everyone scrambled to the big open hangar doors. It was incredible to watch as they approached the runway and touched down. The plane needed to stop a few hangars down and the service men and women climbed off the plane and made the walk up the tarmac.

Heather had won a drawing for being able to get the first kiss and she ran to meet him. (I still get goosebumps thinking about it. :)   )

It was an incredible day. Thanks Heather, I hope you enjoy these!

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4X6 bound OpLove albums

Posted on June 11, 2010

These are the 4X6 bound albums that I give to the families of my Operation Love ReUnited shoots. The front and back covers are thick and durable and have the OpLove logo with a family pic and name and then my logo and website on the back. Really cute little book showing all their proofs. :)

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OpLove Session

Posted on June 11, 2010

Dad came home on June 3 and his family couldn’t have been happier. Thanks for letting me be a part of your reunion. :)   You have a beautiful family, Sarah!!! I hope you like the images!

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all images copyright Melissa Arroyo Photography