Covering as many military homecoming parades as I do it is always a challenge to try and get some nice pictures and keep things fresh. One of the ways of improving your chances of getting some good images is preparation. I always try and arrive early if possible, to get a feel for the place and to see what or who might make interesting pictures.
I try and identify someone who will make a picture more interesting and approach them to get all the details for the captions and their consent before chaos ensues when the soldiers’ arrive – and then, try and keep track of them in the confusion – this isn’t always easy! This is why you do your names and caption info at the start. Once they arrive back it becomes very difficult to get this information.
They could be carrying a banner that catches the eye, or something they are wearing or some other detail that helps to tell the story and which contributes to strong images. Cute kids in camouflage are always a winner though so identify one or two at the start, get the caption info and consent from the parent waiting for their spouse to return and try and identify them as the homecoming develops.
These ‘Homecoming Parades’ are of course, by their nature, a happy event, with families reunited after many months apart so emotions always run high, and what does a heavy dose of emotion make? That’s right, good pictures! So don’t be afraid of getting close in there and getting some.
A cautionary word though, and something highlighted on this last event, the military press officer may point out certain families to the wider media to have a chat with if there has been a special event during the soldiers’ deployment – for example maybe a new baby and the husband hasn’t seen the baby since birth. Nice story, but if all the media swamp this family it can get intimidating for them.
It shouldn’t stop you getting a picture but consider getting the press officer to organise a set-up shot or quickly arrange something with the family. That way everyone can get a picture and then move on instead of overwhelming the family for too long.
Below is a small selection of pictures from a recent homecoming I shot in Tidworth when soldiers from the Royal Welsh returned from Afghanistan. These pictures show some of the other shots that can be found if you keep your eyes open and go for some of the detail from the occasion. I still took pictures of impromptu family groups, as is required, but don’t limit yourself to just these – there are always better pictures to be had if you work a bit harder.