In April 2007, my husband of five years joined the Army and shipped off to the other side of the US for training. He left me behind to care for our 16-months old son. I was also five months pregnant. This isn’t some downer on the military. That was four years ago and while it was certainly an adjustment, we love our military life. However, at the time, I found myself really struggling and failing miserably to hold it together. I was looking for something to occupy my time and just couldn’t come up with anything. This persisted throughout infantry training, Airborne school, the Ranger Indoctrination Program, our first deployment and the beginning of Ranger School. During our first year and a half in the military, my husband was only home for three months. Military families endure this kind of separation all the time (and we’ve endured many since) but this was our first time apart and it hit really hard.
In October of 2008 I started playing around with the best camera – the one I owned. It was a point and shoot, but produced great quality. I loved it. I started learning. I filled almost all my free time (nap times and each evening) with all things photography and about four months later I purchased my first DSLR. Photography became a life line for me, a way to process my frustration and grief over the separations from my love. I had two kiddos to keep me busy, sure, but as most moms will affirm, even motherhood can be done on auto pilot. I had sort of ‘checked out’ but photography helped me to focus my attention and energy into something instead of focusing negatively on the trials in my life. I became a better mother, a better wife and a more confident woman.
My handsome soldier and I will be celebrating our ninth anniversary in a little over a month and a half and last year we added a third child to the chaos that is our life. I have been blessed to offer my photography services to other military families where I live, many of them celebrating the return of a loved one from a recent deployment or making sure to capture those last few memories together before their soldier ships off for a year. I count myself extremely blessed. To say that photography has become a passion of mine would be an understatement. It has become a part of me. I couldn’t stop if I tried. Not that I would ever want to. :)
by Lea Hartman
I know photography is changing countless lives in this world. Please email your story to me so we can share the power of photography. Email your stories and photos to: firstname.lastname@example.org