Photo essay by Christine Vanzella
For several years I have wanted to work on a long-term documentary
photography project. After seeing the portfolios of other documentary
photographers, I decided it was time to try a project for myself. A
colleague came up with the idea of following an army family left at home
while the soldier was on a tour of duty.
I photographed the Jackson family from July 1997 to January 1998. I've
tried to capture their activities, thoughts and moods while their father
was away. A father misses many family events while serving away from
home, including a son's first day of Grade 1 and a daughter celebrating
her first double-digit birthday.
I hope these photographs reveal a glimpse of what a family goes through
while a spouse is serving a tour of duty, as well as show the soldier
what he or she may be missing.
Where Dad's Going -- Sgt. Kevin Jackson shows his children
Chelsea and Tanner where his tour of duty is on a map of Bosnia.
Kitchen Kiss -- Sgt. Kevin Jackson gives his wife Pat a goodbye
Dad's Departure -- Tanner Jackson looks up at his dad as they
wait in the check-in line at the airport.
Family Goodbye -- The Jackson family say goodbye for the last
time before Sgt. Kevin Jackson leaves for Bosnia.
Late Night Snack -- Mom Pat Jackson prepares her children Tanner
and Chelsea a snack before bedtime.
Comforting Mom Pat Jackson comforts her son Tanner when he
misses his dad.
Reflecting -- Chelsea Jackson has a quiet moment alone in her
Sibling Spin -- Chelsea lifts and spins her brother Tanner
during a shopping outing at the local mall.
New Pants -- Chelsea Jackson is reflected in the dressing room
mirror as she shows her mom Pat a pair of jeans she is trying on for
I Already Did -- Tanner Jackson sports an impish grin as he tries
to tell mom Pat that he has already combed his hair (even though he has
Hair Pull -- Chelsea Jackson waits patiently while mom Pat
combs her hair for school.
Morning Shadows -- Tanner and Chelsea Jackson cast long
shadows as they walk to school for the first day of classes.
Teacher's Pet -- Chelsea Jackson smiles as she greets one of
her teachers from school while her brother Tanner looks on.
New Classmate -- Chelsea Jackson meets one of her new
classmates during the first day of school.
Solitary Walk -- Tanner Jackson walks home from school.
Maybe Braces -- Pat Jackson and the orthodontist look into
Chelsea's mouth as he explains that Chelsea may need braces.
Birthday Twister -- Chelsea Jackson and her friends play a
game of Twister at her tenth birthday party.
Dad's Uniform -- Pat Jackson helps her son Tanner try on one
of his dad's uniforms that he left at home.
Banner -- Chelsea and Tanner make a welcome home banner for
Finally Home -- Sgt. Kevin Jackson returns at the end of his
six-month tour of duty in Bosnia, much to the happiness of his family.