As soldiers from the 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams pack their bags for Afghanistan, they'll have a special piece of home to bring along - family portraits.

The Ellis family posed for some shots, hoping to capture a picture-perfect moment for dad, Staff Sergeant Christopher Ellis, to take on deployment.

"It gives me strength to carry on through the nine months while I'm deployed.  I won't be able to see them but at least I'll have something that shows memories of today," said Ellis.

It's part of a program called "Portraits of Love." 

Professional photographers volunteer to take pictures of military families for free. 

For the families getting their pictures taken, that meant getting shots showing personality.

"It was awesome.  They captured their moments like how exactly my children are.  You know the silly one, they captured how they truly are," said Christina Smith, a soldier's wife.

For the families left to wait at home during deployment, the pictures hold special meaning.

"It's just very important for us to have one because you just never know.  So we just want to make sure," said Smith.

Not only were the photo sessions free, each family also receives two free 5x7 copies.

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