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Army June 9, 2011
Free photos for families
By Cpl Melanie Schinkel
WHILE studying her Bachelor of
Arts in Photography, a serving sol-
dier's wife was inspired to estab-
lish a not-for-profit organisation
offering deploying ADF members
free professional photographic
sessions with their loved ones.
Wagga Wagga-based Army
wife and mother of three Melissa
Wood is the President of Operation:
Love Reunited -- Selfless Australia
(OpLove Australia); an organisa-
tion recently launched online to
provide serving personnel and their
loved ones with more than just a few
'happy snaps' to get them through
The OpLove Australia concept
came about while Mrs Wood was
researching for a university assign-
ment. She discovered a website for
a Colorado-based US organisation
called Operation: Love Reunited.
"The idea immediately resonated
with what I wanted to achieve with
my photography, so I contacted the
organisation's board members and
worked with them to establish an
Australian branch," Mrs Wood said.
Her husband, Sgt Steven Wood,
serves in 1RAR and has deployed
to Afghanistan, East Timor and
"Anyone who has seen their hus-
band or wife, son, daughter, sister or
brother off to war knows how hard
it is to watch them walk away," Mrs
"Our son was just two months
old when Steven deployed for seven
months. He missed many milestones
and achievements, but receiving
photos of not just our baby but of
our other two sons as well was a
great morale boost for him.
"For Steven, photos of us con-
nected him to home and illus-
trated what was happening while
he was away, whereas photos of
Steven reminded us that his job in
Afghanistan was important, not just
for our family but for others too."
If you would like more information on
OpLove Australia or wish to volunteer your
services as a photographer, visit www.
oploveaustralia.com or email oploveaus-
Caught on camera: Three-year-old Jacob gives dad Sgt Steven Wood a hug after returning from a seven-
month deployment to Afghanistan. Inset, WO2 Shaun Jolley and Cpl Kathryn Jolley's two-week-old son,
Riley, is one of the early stars of the free photography service.
Photos by Melissa Wood
ANY ADF member deploying for more
than three months is eligible to access
the free photographic service.
Family members of deployed person-
nel can also access the service.
Nine OpLove Australia volunteer pho-
tographers are available in Queensland,
NSW, Victoria, WA and Tasmania.
Three photographic sessions are
available through the free service -- pre-
deployment, deployment and reunion.
Pre-deployment sessions usually
involve the deploying ADF member with
his or her family together.
Deployment sessions allow family
members of deployed personnel to have
photos taken and sent directly to the sol-
dier on operations.
Reunion sessions are provided on
the day a member returns from his or her
deployment to be reunited with family
For all sessions, volunteer
photographers provide free 6x4 inch
photo albums or CDs.
Additional copies may need to be
purchased by arrangement with the vol-
How it works
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