My husband missed our fourth wedding anniversary this year. In the middle of the day, I remember looking out the patio door window into the distance and thinking he was out there.
But not here.
Deployed again, our anniversary marked another celebratory milestone where his absence was heart-achingly paplpable. I took a break from the daddy doll tutorial for military kids I was working on and sat down on the couch to re-visit our wedding album. There is nothing I enjoy more than looking through the pictures of us on that day.
We were happy, peaceful, and above all else, we were together. Military life, and all the challenges that came along with it, were tucked safely inside a closed box in the back of our minds.
We didn’t think about the future challenges we were about to face: PCS moves across the world, multiple deployments and missed anniversaries were a world away.
Being married and enjoying the present moment was all that mattered.
As I reached the final page of our wedding album, I closed the book and returned it to the usual location on the bookshelf. But I wasn’t done looking through pictures yet. I picked up my laptop and searched for pictures of our family together since our military marriage began years ago.
This is the hard part.
I was shocked by the number of photos without my husband present. There were hundreds if not a few thousand photos of the kids and me: going to the park, making dinner, taking silly selfies, Skyping with family.
But where was my husband? The person who is my best friend, the father to our kids, the life of the party?
Looking through the photos, there was our wedding, a few Christmases, the birth of our kids and then there was now.
Where was all the between stuff?
It was as if there was a ghost in our family. He was present, but absent. From the past year, there are less than five photos of my husband and I together in a photo.
On top of that there are less than ten occasions when we took photos of my husband and the kids.
Out of all the days we spent together in the last year, why did we only take pictures with ourselves and the kids TEN times??
All the special snuggles, moments of connection, family dinners and Saturday day trips—they’re gone. I remember the best I can in my mind, but I’m forgetting. And the more time that passes the more I seem to forget.
In five years I want to look back and see that my husband was a part of our family. Despite being gone a lot for work, there are still many memories to capture when he is home.
Don’t let your service member be a ghost.
Right now, I’m on a photography mission. To take pictures at least three times per week of us being an ordinary family.
I want pictures of us drinking coffee on Saturday morning. I want pictures of us taking a walk after dinner. And dang it, I want pictures of us taking a date night together.
That said, I don’t want our ordinary moments to reveal ordinary pictures. I want amazing pictures. I want pictures that capture the beauty of the moment. I want pictures that are worth keeping.
Because when your service member is gone much of the time, each photo counts.
It’s time for a change.
I’ve taken several Craftsy photography classes to help take better pictures. I’ve got a million terrible pictures. It’s time for some great ones! I loved the first class, so much I signed up for two more and I am seeing a huge difference.
These are the 3 classes I took and loved:
In this class you’ll learn how to use your iPhone’s camera and powerful editing apps to move beyond basic filters and create incredible share-worthy image. I use my iPhone to take almost all my pictures. I learned a ton about apps and editing features to improve photos! I paid about $5 to purchase apps recommended in this class. Worth every penny.
This class teaches you how to take high-resolution images by beyond the basic camera app on your phone. He shows you how to use accessories to expand your photos capabilities. He covers both Android and iPhone and also covers the Lightroom mobile app
Wow. This class is so awesome. You learn how to take lifestyle shots that tell a meaningful story, and how to capture natural-looking photos of your kids in motion! Barb shows you when and where to shoot, how to frame your shots and how to get your kids to act naturally while playing outdoors for photos.
I always watch for sales on Craftsy. I think I paid $40 or less for each of my photo classes. I love that the classes come in short digestible pieces of info and you can work at your own pace. Each class takes me about 3-4 days to finish with only 15 minutes of class time per day. So manageable!
Here is a before and after photo from what I learned in the first class…
I was just messing around with the tools I learned after my kids were in bed and I took a shower. I’m not wearing any make up in the photos and they were taken in dim light. The first one is with the regular native iPhone photo app. And the second is using the camera app recommended in the iPhoneography class.
Here’s the plan…
If you are ready to go on a photo mission with me, these classes are so fun. I’m tempted to have my husband take them too.
- Creative iPhoneography Tips and Tricks
- Mobile Photography with Jack Davis
- Photographing Children: Portraits at Play
I’m ready for a year filled with him in all of our photos. I have a photo bucket list, but here is my top ten…
- Holding hands with the kids or together.
- Right when we wake up in the morning.
- Wrestling with the kids.
- Snuggling the kids before bedtime.
- Date night.
- Socks and legs while in pajamas.
- Wrapping gifts for any occasion.
- Kissing goodbye, hello or goodnight.
Want more on military life?
- 31 Encouraging Military Wife Quotes to Inspire You During Deployment
- How to Stay Absolutely Miserable in Military Life
- What Military Marriage Really Looks Like
- Why Deployment Meltdowns Are Actually a Good Thing