A Long Goodbye

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“This is a long goodbye, yet not time enough. I have no aptitude for this. I cannot learn this. I would hold on, and hold on, until my hands clutch at emptiness.”

– Juliet Marillier, Son of the Shadows

This brief session wasn’t part of my plan. I’d been employed by Mike Hughes to photograph his 50th birthday party. Having photographed his daughter’s 21st the previous year, I’d looked forward to shooting this one as they’re always a fun time and you get to meet lots of interesting people who’re up for being silly and posing for the camera. In all of the noise and celebration, I hadn’t planned on meeting these two.

As the evening wore on and I worked the room photographing guests inside the venue and out in the beer garden, I noticed a few gentlemen sitting having a drink outside, wearing what looked like 1940’s World War 2 military uniforms. No one thought it odd but as I looked, more people arrived in vehicles dated from the same era. There must have been over 20 men, all wearing similar uniforms, having drinks and enjoying each other’s company.

My mind wandered as I started to wonder what they were doing. As is common, my imagination started filling in the blanks as I pictured them wearily returning home to loved ones, having been away for so long serving their country. Though I was ‘on duty’, I knew I wanted to photograph them.