Last week, Ellie and I got to do a very special shoot. If you've been a long-time reader of my blog, you might remember Melissa Gallagher/Harris. She and I go waaaaaaaaay back to my first year of teaching high school. She was a great student and yearbook editor. Over the years I've photographed her senior portraits, engagement portraits, wedding (in Utah), and newborn portraits.
When she called me recently and asked if I could photograph her family before her husband, Air Force engine mechanic Mike, is deployed to Qatar, I obviously made it a top scheduling priority (we shot on Superbowl Sunday). I absolutely did not want to charge them for our fun little session, so in exchange for pictures I just asked them to share a bit about their life with me for the blog.
Before I go on with their story and their images, I wanted to share Ellie's involvement in this. Ellie, who has met Mel many times, brought her polaroid camera to shoot some as well. After she burned through her pack of 10, Ellie and Mel held a playground draft, leaving each with their five favorite pictures.
When we were in the car, I told Ellie that I was proud of her and that I hope she realizes how special it is that Mike, who will be leaving Mel and Micah for a few months, already has a few pictures from the shoot that he can take with him when he deploys.
I don't think there is a better way to explain how important and special pictures than by Mel's example. And Ellie got it.
This will be the first time Mike is deployed to the Middle East. The remarkable thing about this is when asked we he is not looking forward to, the first thing he said had nothing to do with the actual deployment, but instead about leaving his family.
“I will definitely dread leaving Melissa and Micah. I feel like I am going to miss a lot. Micah will be walking and maybe even talking before I get home. That will be hard.”
Mel agrees, but also says that she’s more comfortable with him there as opposed to when he was a police officer. She said, “this might not make a lot of sense, but I am more comfortable with him deploying than I was with him being a cop. I used to have to worry every night, not now. He will be safe, they don't park multi-million dollar aircraft in harms way.”
The conditions will be hard, though. Mike will be stationed in areas of the world that have 130-140 degree heat in the summer. Additionally, the dangers there are real. It will be in these times that he’ll remember his favorite things from back home: “when I come home from work and Micah sees me, he smiles really big and then tries to get to me so I can pick him up. I love it when He smiles.”
Though Mike will miss some of Micah’s milestones, Mel will continue to post images, video, and stories on their blog: http://michaelandmelissaharris.blogspot.com/
On a personal note, I want to thank Mike for serving. He said he feels weird when people thank him right now because he hasn’t been deployed yet. However, I’m still thankful for him. He has made a commitment that so many people don’t make. He has made a sacrifice that many people will never understand. He doesn’t feel like a hero, and even though he already is in the eyes of his 9-month-old son, he will when he gets to come home to his family that loves him dearly.
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