Fresh Out of Parris Island: A Marine Comes Home to Knoxville

I have known Patrick since his high school days, which were not too long ago.

I have photographed the weddings of both of his sisters, as well as his young niece, and him and his fellow Robotichauns, that is, the robotics team from Knoxville Catholic High School.  

So it was endearing to photograph him in the latest chapter of his life.

And an honor.

Last week saw him on a parade ground at Parris Island, graduating with his platoon as freshly minted Marines, the continuing story from the past 241 years of tradition and history.  Patrick is only a short time here in Knoxville before he is off for advanced training and from there, well, that is still unknown.  But while he was home, I wanted to capture some images, especially for his family - and for him to remember when he was just starting out, When his sleeve bears only "mosquito wings" and his chest the medal he called his "mustard stain."

But I gave this shoot some thought.  You see, I had been in the Army many, many years ago and I knew that while in uniform, posing was limited.  It is easy to have a groom lean casually against a wall and grin broadly.  A Marine in uniform would not do that.  It is easy to ask a senior to put his hands in his pockets.  A Marine in uniform would NEVER do that!  And take off his hat?  No, not unless he was sufficiently "under cover."  I had to be able to capture Patrick while respecting both the uniform and his military bearing.

Which is also why I asked him to wear his Class B dress uniform and not his USMC dress blues.  The dress blues are iconic and my thought is that they would overwhelm the images.  If we were in a studio and I was doing formal poses, and especially in a few years when Patrick is sporting more stripes and medals, then the dress blues would be wonderful.  But I wanted to photograph the man that I boy I knew had become and in his hometown.  Knoxville is a city of reds (we have so many brick buildings) and I knew the olive green would be complementary.

The photographer in me is pleased with the results.  The mom in me is verklempt, happily, to see these "kids" I knew grow into such wonderful men and women.  I hope that Patrick is at the start of an illustrious career as a warrior, and I know our country is a little safer today with this young man at its defense.

Semper fi, PRuss!