A once in a blue moon opportunity for me, I got to do a shoot for a woman who found me through a Craigslist ad I had posted. Melissa asked me if I’d be interested in shooting the arrival of her son at the Philadelphia International Airport. That was just in the first sentence of her email. Before I could even get to the next line, I had images going through my head of all the possible shots I could get of a uniformed man arriving home from being deployed overseas.

But this was a different type of arrival and one I found to be the most anticipated of shoots I’ve had in the past. Melissa had adopted a baby boy named James. He would be arriving on a Friday evening, welcomed by anxiously awaiting family and friends holding signs and their breath, anticipating those doors opening and seeing that little guy come through the door with his entourage of foster mothers.

Of course I was interested! This wasn’t going to be something I thought I’d ever be a part of again. (Unless…well, there are adoption photographers out there that specialize in just this type of scenario. If I’m lucky, I will find something similar in the future)



The time arrived and we went to the gate to meet James. Tears were flowing, kids playing, hands clasped, flourescent lights were a-humming, as I snapped away. 867 photos taken! Not a record for me, but a record for me in that amount of time. There were so many moments I did not want to miss. I almost wish I had just video recorded all of it with a high-definition camcorder and just turned every other frame into a photo. But there was video taken! Maybe at some point Melissa would like to share some of that to add to this. I’m sure she already added some clips to her own blog about the whole experience over the 20 months they eagerly awaited for James to come home. It wasn’t necessarily a time where you “had to be there”, looking through only a few pictures, many people have told me that they were overwhelmed. What a joyous memorable experience for everyone in attendance.

And Zoe…their awesome daughter Zoe. Very shy for the first few minutes and feeling much like one of my own later, jumping on me and taking her own photos. Such a lovely family. Such a LUCKY family.

The only downside I saw to this…not that I always look for one…but airports have HORRIBLE lighting. I was not prepared for that insane asylum look. Maybe that is something I will learn to expect and prepare for in time. Maybe I will someday be able to take beautiful outdoor photos of this same beautiful family. Either way, I will never forget them.