Lance Cpl. Stephen Stewart had a plan. But like any Marine, when the plan fell through, he made a quick decision and went in another direction. And because of that, his photograph was recognized as one of the 12 best of 2012.
Stewart, who works with the Cherry Point Public Affairs Office, received recognition in the Marine Corps’ 2012 Top Shot competition. The contest, run through Facebook, recognized Marine Public Affairs photographers and their work.
Stewart’s photograph captured a joyous reunion between Cathia Duran and husband Cpl. Coltan Duran, who was returning home to Cherry Point from a deployment to Afghanistan.
"It feels pretty good," Stewart said of the recognition. "It’s kind of neat being recognized as one of the 12 best photos of the year."
Stewart took the photograph of the reunion on Oct. 2, as Duran returned home with about 100 other Marines with Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2. Families waited inside a hangar as light showers fell, and Stewart said he was focused initially on a wife and her two children.
As the returning Marines were dismissed and broke formation, Stewart said his attention immediately shifted to Cathia Duran.
"She sprinted ahead of everyone," Stewart said. "I ditched the idea of following the other family, and she just jumped into her husband’s arms. It was just a split moment decision. It wasn’t what I had planned, but it turned out really well."
The contest takes place throughout the year, with monthly winners selected through Facebook likes. Stewart’s photograph won for October, and as the year wrapped up, went up against other monthly winners for the grand prize of Corps Top Shot of 2012.
The grand prize winner was a picture from Afghanistan showing an improvised explosive device detection dog curled up sleeping among some sleeping Marines.
Stewart said he didn’t think his photograph would win the contest but did appreciate the recognition.
"Personally, there were some really outstanding photos," he said of the competition.