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Arts & Culture

PHOTOS: Capturing The Emotion Of A Military Homecoming

a couple kisses after being reunited after a deployment
Sharilyn Wells
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Perez Family, August 2012: 'I love when couples can basically be the only ones in a crowded room,' said photographer Sharilyn Wells.

Sharilyn Wells knows what it's like to wait for a spouse returning from a deployment.

"Being a military brat myself, being in the Army, and being a military spouse, I know that there are a lot of hardships that military families endure," said Wells, 32.

Instagram: @sharilynwellsphoto

Wells honed her photography skills while working with the Army Reserve's public affairs department and the Fayetteville Observer. And after asking friends to take photos of her own family at military homecomings, she began to do the same for other families.

"They're always like, 'Please don't capture the ugly cry I have,'" Wells said. "But when the moment their loved one comes home, all those rules fly out the window and the moment is captured…they love the memory that was captured in that image."

Note: This is the latest installment in an occasional series profiling North Carolina photographers.

Relatives of deployed soldiers wait for their loved ones to arrive during a homecoming ceremony
Credit Sharilyn Wells / www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Kleinfelder Family, September 2015: 'This was a middle of the night (early morning) homecoming,' said photographer Sharilyn Wells. 'She wanted to bring her girls, but 2 a.m. just wasn't going to work. So armed with their signs and the girls at a babysitter, she welcomed her husband home among friends.'

a young girl during a military homecoming
Credit Sharilyn Wells / www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Greene Family, October 2014: 'One of my favorite parts of photographing homecomings are the outfits the kids wear and the signs,' said photographer Sharilyn Wells. 'They're so creative and special. Makes the moment even more emotional knowing that these heroes' families take that much time and thought into their reunions.'

The Edwards Family during a military homecoming in the Fayetteville area in August 2014.
Credit Sharilyn Wells / www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Edwards Family, August 2014: 'She was so nervous to see him again,' said photographer Sharilyn Wells. 'She had butterflies in her stomach. She couldn't stop smiling when he was in her arms again.'

The Weatherl Family during a military homecoming in the Fayetteville area in March 2015.
Credit Sharilyn Wells / www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Weatherl Family, March 2015: 'She was dressed in her patriotic dress and searching for daddy,' said photographer Sharilyn Wells.

a woman waiting in an empty hanger for her soldier to return home
Credit Sharilyn Wells / www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Farrell Family, May 2015: 'It doesn't matter the time of day, 3 a.m. to be exact,' said photographer Sharilyn Wells. 'Spouses will be dressed in their best and waiting patiently (with some anxiety) for their heroes.'

a mom waits for her daughter to return from a deployment
Credit Sharilyn Wells / www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Lowder Family, October 2013: 'Mom couldn't contain her emotions when she saw the soldiers, one of the many in uniform was her daughter, walk off that plane,' said photographer Sharilyn Wells.

a dad waits for his wife to get off a military plane
Credit Sharilyn Wells / www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Lowder Family, October 2013: This photo shows dad holding his baby boy while the two wait on mom to get off that plane, according to photographer Sharilyn Wells.

A mother and daughter wait for a soldier to return home
Credit Sharilyn Wells / www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Halloran Family, November 2014: 'When she saw daddy walking off that plane and up to her, she couldn't contain herself. Pure magic,' said photographer Sharilyn Wells.

a soldier reunites with his daughter after a deployment
Credit Sharilyn Wells / www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Carpenter family, May 2013: 'One of my absolute favorites from my homecoming sessions,' said photographer Sharilyn Wells. 'Dad walked off the airport and straight into his daughter's arms. It was so precious. This photo screams America.'

a couple hugs after reuniting after a military deployment
Credit Sharilyn Wells / www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Allen Family, September 2012: after they were reunited. This photo won photographer Sharilyn Wells first place in a Fayetteville photo contest for military life, featured by the Fayetteville Visitor's Bureau.

a father and daughter after a deployment
Credit Sharilyn Wells / www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Greene Family, October 2014: 'Daddy stole some quiet time with his baby girl on the best day ever,' said photographer Sharilyn Wells.

a soldier meets his daughter for the first time.
Credit Sharilyn Wells / www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Pixley Family, August 2012: 'When daddy met his little girl for the very first time, he couldn't stop staring at her face,' said photographer Sharilyn Wells. 'It was love at first sight.'

a couple hugs at RDU after reutning after a military deployment
Credit Sharilyn Wells / www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Albrecht Family, October 2015: 'His flight kept getting pushed back later and later,' said photographer Sharilyn Wells. 'She kept apologizing to me. I had brought my boys along to Raleigh-Durham International Airport and was worried it would be too late for us all to be out for a homecoming. But when he finally arrived, nothing else mattered.'

a family hugs after reuniting after a deployment
Credit Sharilyn Wells / www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Myers Family, November 2012: 'Daddy and son were so excited to see mommy home,' said photographer Sharilyn Wells. 'They kissed her and kissed her.'

a little girl hugs her father
Credit Sharilyn Wells / www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Zermeno Family, October 2014: 'She could not wait to hug daddy so tight,' said photographer Sharilyn Wells.

a soldier lifts his son after reuniting with the family
Credit Sharilyn Wells / www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
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www.sharilynwellsphotography.com
The Burton Family, March 2014: 'Both the wife and husband had contacted me for a homecoming. Unbeknownst to her though, he wanted to keep his return a surprise,' said photographer Sharilyn Wells. 'I played along with him as he kept me updated on his date of return as well as she kept updating me on her known date of return. Finally the day came and I met the soldier down the street to his home, and I followed him to his front door. Best surprise ever.'

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