Sailor embraces significant other in front of USS Newport News at homecoming at SUBASE New London in Groton, CT on January 3, 2023.

Questions to Ask Your Military Homecoming Photographer | Second Heart Photography

Military deployment homecomings are such a wonderful and irreplaceable time. As a photographer, I strongly feel that military homecomings are similar to weddings or births: there is only one chance to get the photo right, and if you miss it, it isn’t happening again. With that in mind, here are some questions you may want to ask to make sure you have the right fit when you’re choosing your military homecoming photographer.

Sailor kisses fiance at USS Montpelier homecoming.

1. Have you photographed a military homecoming before, specifically this type of homecoming?

While sometimes, the only way to learn is by doing, you want to know if this is your photographer’s first time photographing a military homecoming. Homecomings for different branches of the military are all different, and your photographer may be new to your type of homecoming. (Of course, every single homecoming is different even if they’re the same type, but a submarine homecoming is going to be vastly different than an Air Force homecoming.)

If this is your first homecoming with your special someone, your photographer will be able to guide you through what to expect if they are experienced.

Naval officer looks down at baby at USS North Dakota military homecoming.

2. Can I see a full gallery from a previous military homecoming?

If your photographer has photographed homecomings before, take a peek at full galleries from prior homecomings. Are the photos in focus? Does the editing match the style of the photography you like? (Photographers are artists; their style is their own, and your gallery will likely have similar editing and coloring to their previous work. It is better to make sure you like their current style than to request them to change the way they edit.) Do you feel like the moments are sufficiently captured, or would you be looking for more from another photographer afterward?

Lastly, many photographers are used to being able to control light and posing, but outdoor homecomings are usually midday and there is not an option to move for better lighting in most cases. Nighttime homecomings may require a flash, and making sure your photographer produces quality photos with a flash is a good call if you think your homecoming will be during a time when it is dark.

Naval officer kisses his wife after returning from a deployment on USS Minnesota.

3. Do you have base access?

If your homecoming is taking place on a military base, ask if your photographer has base access. If your photographer does not have base access (as a dependent, retiree, or otherwise), you will have to organize base access for them. Contact your ombudsman or command point of contact to arrange these permissions.

Chief Petty Officer embraces daughter at USS Montpelier submarine homecoming.

4. What happens if the date of homecoming changes?

The military can be fickle. Homecoming dates are usually written in Jell-o. Ask your photographer ahead of time if they are flexible with last minute changes or cancellations. Your photographer should be an exciting addition to your homecoming date, not an additional source of stress.

Master Chief hugs his son at USS South Dakota military homecoming in Groton, CT.
The date of this homecoming changed several times and wasn’t official until about 48 hours beforehand.

5. Are you still able to photograph if there is inclement weather?

Ask your military homecoming photographer if they are prepared to photograph in the rain. Most professional cameras and lenses are weather sealed and can handle rain without issues, but it is best to confirm. Of course, if there are thunderstorms and dangerous weather, your photographer will likely be unable to accomodate.

Right before this homecoming, mom told me, “She’s gonna run to him; she always does!”

6. What is the turnaround time for the images from my military homecoming?

You are rightfully so excited! Your servicemember just came home and you can’t wait to tell the world, Instagram, and Facebook all about it. Ask ahead of time what to expect as far as gallery delivery and sneak peeks. Do you get a few sneak peeks same day and the gallery in two weeks? Do you get your whole gallery within a few days? If you know you are impatient, try to find a homecoming photographer with a quick turnaround time.

Sailor hugs his daughter at USS Newport News military homecoming in Groton, CT on January 3, 2023.

7. Are you able to snap a few photos for my best friend too?

We all find that person who gets us through deployment the best. The one you call because there is a giant centipede in your kitchen and your husband isn’t home to kill it (or did that only happen to me?). You may want to ask if your photographer is able to snap a few photos for that person for you in gratitude of all they’ve done to get you through.

Sailor embraces family member at military homecoming from USS North Dakota.

8. Are images included with my gallery or do I have to purchase them separately?

While every photographer does pricing differently, make sure you know what to expect as far as your homecoming images. If there are additional image fees after your homecoming, you do not want to be blindsided by them or surprised.

You may have more questions than these, and I’d love to hear them! Homecomings are such an exciting and emotional time. When you find your military homecoming photographer, I don’t want you to feel like you didn’t get the images you wanted from your irreplaceable day.

Sailor kisses significant other at USS Newport News military homecoming in Groton, CT on January 3, 2023.

As a military homecoming photographer, here are my answers:

While many of these questions are answered at my Military Homecomings page of my website, I have answered them for you below:

  1. I’ve photographed several submarine homecomings before at SUBASE New London (and one in Pearl Harbor). I would LOVE the opportunity to photograph a non-submarine military homecoming or a submarine homecoming at a different base.
  2. Absolutely! All my recent submarine homecoming galleries are available at
  3. I do have base access. I am a spouse of an active duty submarine sailor.
  4. We’ll work with it! Very, very rarely am I unable to accommodate changes; I know the military doesn’t care about our schedules. I plan my vacations and unavailable time well in advance. If you reach out far enough in advance, I plan my vacations around your date range. 🙂
  5. Yes, unless there is lightning. Check the gallery for the USS Newport News homecoming; it was pouring rain most of the day!
  6. I deliver all homecomings within 48 hours, but usually 24. I don’t typically do sneak peeks because I would rather just finish the entire gallery in one go.
  7. Absolutely! My client is at the forefront of my focus when I am photographing a homecoming. Once they are reunited, I typically take time to photograph other reunions and special moments around me. If you have someone you want me to direct my focus to as well, please let me know. I will make every attempt to get their special moments without sacrificing my attention to yours.
  8. All of my single client homecomings are all-inclusive. I have a special offer for FRGs that may choose to book at a lower rate and images are sold a la carte because the focus is not on one specific person or moment.

Hopefully this guide can help you find the best homecoming photographer for you to capture your special moments. What other questions would you ask a homecoming photographer? Leave them in the comments!