I am very honored to learn that my homecoming image is the Grand Prize winner in Digital Photo Pro’s Photo of the Year contest in their latest issue. I took the photo at Colorado’s Buckley Air Force Base of Staff Sergeant Joseph Imeraj (foreground) and Technical Sergeant Daniel Bateman returning to their loved ones from a 60-day tour in Iraq. It was an incredibly emotional event, with 250 airmen coming down the ramp to swarms of cheering families and friends. Over 1,000 people ran to greet the airmen, so I did my best to scramble near the ramp to capture the story of just one or two airmen (all while wiping an incessant flow of tears off my viewfinder). The highlight of the project has been sharing the images with the airmen and their families, and giving them prints for their scrapbooks. I feel very lucky to have witnessed this homecoming, and to see the sacrifices that the military families make during deployments. Many thanks to Major Haley for making my visit possible, and to my 1st asssistant Draper White and imaging specialist Mac Holbert for their help converting the image to a timeless black and white tone in Photoshop.
I took the photo with the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III camera and the 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 1/25th sec, f/6.3, ISO 400. I like working with a wide-angle lens as it allows me to capture the foreground action and also to tell a further story with the background. The photo was taken on assignment for 5280 magazine as a feature on F-16 fighter pilots of the 120th Fighter Squadron. Click here to see a video promo from the project.