Let’s get out of the cinderblock conference room and make it something to remember, if not for you, for your kids.
As a USMC spouse, the tradition and formality of military ceremonies never ceases to rise up a deep sense of patriotism and pride.
For many of us, our kids won’t even have cognitive memory of their parents’ active duty days. They’ll only have the photos we take.
I’m on a mission to get you out of the cinderblock conference room to create beautiful, inspiring images of your career. Even if your spouse doesn’t want it!
Separate from my family and branding work, military ceremonies have a different pricing structure based on location and duration.
Types of Military Ceremonies to photograph
The most well known event is the military homecoming. There’s nothing like a reunion after and extensive deployment, especially a deployment that is continually extended! But I’m on a mission to photograph every aspect of a career.
Pinnings & Promotions
This is when a service member “pins on” a new rank (promoted). This is typically a quick ceremony, usually done in a conference room, or maybe outside if its nice out. Most people just ask a friend to take photos. But I want to encourage you to hire a real photographer, especially as you get to higher ranks, and the end of your career!
I have seen pinnings in conference rooms, outside restaurants, outside battalions, in front of school buildings, and our own under the armory shelter in Okinawa because it was raining.
I encourage you to look into significant areas, monuments, museums to your service or even a local brewery for a built it wet down.
Pinning ceremonies are generally so fast they’re the least expensive ceremony to photograph.
The majority of officer commissioning happen immediately after college graduation when the service member is new and fresh out of college. But for Warrant Officers and Limited Duty Officers, or even prior enlisted, its a major milestone and one time event in his carreer. It’s common to hire a photographer in those circumstances.
I’ve seen LDO and CWO commissioning at the USMC Semper Fi Chapel, the Museum of the Marine Corps, the Military Aviation Museum, and a brewery!
Like with pinnings, first look for a venue with significance to your branch of service. When that’s not possible, a brewery with a private room makes a great location for an immediate wet down.
Commissioning ceremonies can last up to an hour. Depending on how many attend and the length of the ceremony, this is when a photographer will begin to charge $300 or more.
Change of Command Ceremony
Very similar to a commissioning, a change of command is a major one time event in a career and definitely should be photographed. Many Navy commands send a Navy photographer to these ceremonies. However, you are not guaranteed to get all the shots you want from a Navy photographer, especially those family photos and group shots at the end.
Change of command ceremonies happen on site for the unit- parade grounds, parking lots, hangar, flight line, in a gym and the like. The most beautiful one I’ve seen was overlooking the Pacific Ocean at 3rd Recon in Okinawa, Japan.
Change of command ceremonies last at least an hour and can go longer depending on the comments and guest speaker. For USMC COCs, there is a key moment when the outbound commanding officer passes the Guide On to the inbound commanding officer. You want that shot of all four hands on the guide on with the full view of the unit’s emblem!
Sorry, Navy, you don’t have anything cool like that.
To save money the inbound and out bound families could hire the same photographer for personal photos of each service member and group shots at the end.
Naturally, this is the culmination of a full career and a one time event. Please hire someone to photograph it! It does depend on how fancy you want your ceremony in the first place. It can be as simple as an outdoor tent, or it can be like a small wedding at a country club. The bigger the ceremony, the more need you have for a photographer!
I have seen them done at an event center on base, in a hangar, or a branch specific museum like the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
See a Retirement Ceremony Photos
Pricing & Availability for Military Ceremony Photography
Every ceremony is different – locations, lengths of time, etc that affect costs. Pinnings are typically the least expensive because they’re so short. Retirements are the most expensive because they’re usually so long.
Every ceremony includes a few digital downloads with the option to upgrade after you’ve seen them.
Expect to invest $150-$500. Fill out the contact form below, to get an exact quote on your unique event.
Travel For Military Photography
I am currently located in Virginia Beach, VA but I do travel to Quantico, Washington DC and Camp Lejeune frequently. I’m open to anything! Travel fees are applicable.