Erin-Jo Luellen’s fate as a military spouse was sealed at an early age, but she wouldn’t know it for many years to come. She and her husband met in Maine, when both of them were in the 5th grade! They didn’t begin dating until 2002, and then married in 2007. She and her husband moved to a town about an hour away from where they’d grown up. He got a job doing security at a hospital. She got a job at her friend’s home day-care while she took courses at the local college. It seemed, for a moment, that they were settling into their life there.
Then came a night in 2010, while preparing for a date night, when her husband surprised Erin-Jo with the announcement he wanted to join the Coast Guard. The seed was planted by someone he knew in the Reserves, and then he enlisted! Erin-Jo stayed in Maine while he was in Boot Camp; the last bit of time she’d spend there before joining her husband on multiple moves around the country.
Their first move was to Virginia Beach, where she initially worked as a hostess at a local restaurant. Then, the adjustments of military life started coming at her rapidly. She left her hostess job and, using her day-care experience, became a personal nanny for a family for whom she developed great faithfulness and affection. It was while she nannied for them that she became pregnant with their first child. The family had to move away, leaving her without work. Then, just 22 months after having her first son, a second son came along. Meanwhile, her husband went on multiple deployments, leaving Erin-Jo to embrace her role as a stay-at-home mother, military spouse, and of course, manager of the household.
So many things had changed in a short period of time, and Erin-Jo found herself needing something for herself. She turned toward her passion for photography. She’d been interested in photography since high school, and it continued to be an activity she enjoyed doing. Taking pictures was something she was often called upon to do by friends and family for various events, and she just kept trading in her camera to get the next best thing. She thought about her future career, and how that she now had to balance that with having time with her children, requiring more flexible work. It occurred to her that she could turn her photography into a profession. So she set a goal for herself to open up her own business; and she did!
Unfortunately, after one year of running her own business, illness struck. A perplexing auto-immune disorder felt like an impasse. It was clear she needed the time to get healthy. She sought out holistic medical treatment and focused on taking care of herself.
During this, they received the news that her husband was accepted to the Direct Commission Intelligence Officer program in San Antonio, and they were on the move again! Though their time in Texas was brief— only 18 months, it proved to be the perfect opportunity for her to think about her health, her family, and rebuilding.
This year, Erin-Jo and her husband moved to Northern Virginia, where she had prepared to open up her photography business again. However, she had not anticipated having to do that during a global pandemic! However, she’s been able demonstrate, yet again, her ability to overcome unexpected hurdles.
People are always looking for good photographers, and it was especially useful to have this talent in the military community, where she’s been able to meet new people and grow her business, meeting primarily through word-of-mouth referrals. Her photo shoots are geared toward children, family, back-to-school shots, high school seniors, and headshots. And she loves working with natural light.
The frequent changes in also location also led her to another decision— to home-school. It’s proven to be the right thing for her family and her children’s continuity in education (who knew it would become the thing to do in 2020?!), but also still allows her to balance the time with her photography business. With all that has been going on this year with the pandemic, she was hesitant to start the business up again. She credits a good friend (also a photographer) and fellow military spouse for the inspiration and encouragement. Erin-Jo is grateful for the push!
We are so happy to have her join the LineCrew!