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The Homecoming That Almost Never Was

AWC > Welcome Home > The Homecoming That Almost Never Was
A few weeks before my husband came home, I decided to seek out a homecoming photographer who could document the moment.  My husband had been deployed before – to Iraq in 2008.  When he returned home, I had my camera ready with full intentions of getting some good photos of his homecoming ceremony.  However, too busy with being in the moment, I got none.  That makes me sad because if someday I do not have the ability to remember the first homecoming I ever had, I have absolutely no photos of that special day.


RDU International Airport
Because I didn’t want that to happen again, I started seeking a photographer for this homecoming.  At first, I contacted a non-profit organization that uses volunteer photographers to document homecomings free of charge.  I contacted a few and no one was available for my homecoming, and another told me that I didn't qualify for the program because "Korea is not a deployment – it is a volunteer hardship tour."  So I reached out on the Facebook page that I started three years ago, Real Life Army Wives, to ask for recommendations for a homecoming photographer who would be able to come.  That is when Stella Reynoso of Stella Reynoso Photography was highly recommended to me, multiple times, and ended up being one of the biggest blessings I could have ever found.

Since Stella had so much prior homecoming experience, she knew exactly what to expect, which questions to ask, and understood completely that things could change at a moment’s notice, and that it was all part of the process.  She worked with me during every itinerary change, never complained, and was 100% professional from the first moment she replied to my inquiry, to the very end, when I received my photos on a beautiful custom disc, wrapped up like the present it was.  I didn't know what to expect from a custom, professional boutique photographer like this because all I had ever used before were those portrait studios in stores like Sears or JCPenney.  Stella explained everything to me right from the get-go, showed me multiple examples of other homecomings that she had done, and was as straightforward with her policies & pricing as it comes.  And was super friendly on top of it.  I was SO excited to work with her!

Waiting SO patiently
The morning of June 6th, I found out that my husband’s flight had been cancelled due to an issue with the plane.  Of course this had to happen to us!  We've had terrible luck with the Army, so I wasn't terribly surprised.  His flight was rescheduled for June 7th (Korea time), which was then also cancelled.  Go figure.  Stella was flexible and completely understood what had happened, and assured me that she'd still be able to make it, no matter what.  And she did, even though the airport completely changed too, to one much further away, and my husband’s flight was scheduled to arrive in the middle of the night.  Stella was as good as her word!!

We arrived to RDU (Raleigh-Durham International Airport) around 10:30 PM on the 7th.  Almost the entire time we were there, I couldn't do anything but pace back and forth.  Since this wasn’t a traditional unit homecoming, all of this was so personal to me, and to my family, but Stella made the wait for him so much more tolerable than I ever could have done alone.  She kept me talking during the long drive up, and tried to take my mind off of the constant waiting game as best she could.  We visited the USO as well, and she constantly took photos while we waited, but I never even knew that she was photographing me.  She never felt like a paparazzi stalking a famous person – it felt like she wasn’t even there!  She was absolutely amazing, and captured some of the most touching photos you could even imagine.  The story she told of our homecoming is one I will remember every single time I hear that song she played for our slideshow during our proofing session, or see even one single image, since they all bring me back to the happy memories of that night.

FINALLY reunited!
From our iconic first kiss, to our daughter walking to her daddy for the very first time, these photographs are truly priceless to me.  Those raw emotions Stella captured that night could never be recreated, and photographing authentic and real emotion is her biggest strength, and exactly what she specializes in.  The images she took were from a completely different viewpoint than I was able to see, and I could never have done anything like this myself.  Stella made sure to capture all the details that made up our entire story – from the layout of the USO during our short time there, to all the pacing I did inside that empty airport, all the way to our interactions as a family while waiting for my husband’s bags to arrive in baggage claim.  Every precious moment, every phase of our homecoming, every new area that we moved to – Stella was there, and documented our story so perfectly.  I could not have had a better experience, and am so thankful for the infinitely valuable service she provided me!
Daddy and his baby girl

Check out our session here:

Stella Reynoso Photography services the Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base area here in North Carolina, but is always willing to travel.  She has had homecoming experience at Fort Benning, GA, and Fort Bliss, TX, and has captured homecomings for individual families as well as served entire Brigades.  Her images hang inside hundreds of homes throughout the world, and she is one of the largest single contributors to the Bulldog Brigade Memorial Association.  She also mentors newer photographers, and volunteers for The Gold Hope Project and  You can find her on Facebook here and here, as well as Pinterest, and Twitter.

If you are in the Fort Bragg area, or anywhere for that matter, go and visit Stella for us!  Make sure you tell her AWC sent you! :D

Thank you Stella for everything that you have done for my family! Your expertise  is so very valuable to me!!! You have given my family and myself a gift, a gift we could never have again! Thank you, so much again.
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