Portraits Of Love is a project to provide US soldiers around the world with portraits of the families and loved ones taken by some of the best photographers in the world. Sony along with PMDA and the USO, is proud to be a sponsor of the project and this year Sony Artisans Paul Gero, Mike Colon and Spencer Pablo took part as photographers. It was Gero’s first time working on Portraits Of Love and we sat down with him to talk about the experience and why it’s so important to him personally.
AlphaUniverse: How did you first get involved with the project?
Paul Gero: Sony plays a major role in this project and I know that they did this last year and so I was thrilled and honored to be asked to participate this year.
AlphaUniverse: Why is the project important to you personally?
Paul Gero: I am truly grateful to service members for what they do for me and the country by volunteering to be in the military. It’s just a very small way for me to give back to these folks. Because of what they do in guarding the freedoms of our country, I am able to make a living as a photographer. Plus my Dad was a Korean War-era Army veteran, and my sister Ruth Anne was a lawyer in the Army (Judge Advocate General) and her husband was a Captain in the Army during the late 80s and early 90s.
AlphaUniverse: Beyond the stated purpose of Portraits Of Love, what were your own goals for the day?
Paul Gero: My own personal goal was to create meaningful, expressive portraits that the families will treasure for years to come. I want to make sure that they can use the photographs I took to create beautiful printed products as well as being able to access and enjoy the photos on smartphones and tablets. The proliferation of smart phones with cameras makes it easy for anyone to shoot and share a photo. I wanted to use proper camera gear to take professional-caliber photos that would stand out while still making those photos sharable.
AlphaUniverse: What else did you do beside shooting the photos?
Paul Gero: In addition to the actual portraits, Sony did some video of us working. For that I also gave some tips and tricks for the servicemen and women to use when photographing their own families. It was nice to be able to do that.
AlphaUniverse: Can you walk us through the day?
Paul Gero: Sure, my day started early heading to the San Diego office which is about an hour and a half from my home. Upon arriving I found that the natural light was so nice that it would be a shame to NOT use it. The sessions were fast—about 15 minutes long. I wanted to create as many great portraits for them in that time frame giving them a variety of full family photos, siblings by themselves, etc. I wanted to give them as much variety as possible. Near the end of the day, I used a lot of flash to maintain the quality of light and to give me the camera settings I wanted to use. It was a great day! Sweet kids and families. It was a fun, hectic and very rewarding day.
AlphaUniverse: How many families did you work with all told?
Paul Gero: On the day I participated I photographed 25 families! It was a very busy schedule and I kept wanting to do more, but I had to move to be sure that everyone would be photographed.
AlphaUniverse: What Sony gear did you use and why?
Paul Gero: For most of the photographs, I used a Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS lens on a Sony α6000 camera. The reason is that the camera is so light and responsive and the lens gives me a great range to cover a moderate wide angle to short telephoto. And since I made photographs primarily with available light, I was able to utilize the high speed frame rate of the camera (up to 11 fps)!