Portraits for Patriots | New
Giving back to the community has always been important to photographer Nina Pomeroy. After contributing to a volunteer photography program for less than a year, Pomeroy has created life-changing experiences for those she captures.
The national non-profit organization, Portraits for Patriots, enables photographers to work with veterans and provide professional portraits to transitioning military members. Pomeroy began volunteering with the nonprofit earlier this year and has since developed a deep appreciation for the work she produced.
“I’ve always wanted to give back to my community and I know I wouldn’t be able to do what I love and have my freedoms if it weren’t for the sacrifice of so many who have served our country,” said Pomeroy, owner of Pleasanton-based Nina Pomeroy Photography.
Pomeroy remembers being told by friends at the Portraits for Patriots organization. She was put in touch with the founder and eager to get involved.
“The whole premise of Portraits for Patriots provides great portraits for those leaving the service,” she said. “I know how difficult a transition can be for someone, and there’s nothing like having great photos on LinkedIn and social media that even help resumes get started.”
Transitioning service member Steven Gillespie first discovered Portraits for Patriots after seeing a post about the organization on LinkedIn and receiving a recommendation from a friend. Gillespie served 20 years in the US Marine Corps and worked as an operations chief sergeant.
After researching and applying for the program, Gillespie was connected with Pomeroy to capture his new professional photographs.
“It really put the transition period into perspective because most of the time when I was in the Marine Corps all my pictures were in uniform,” Gillespie said. “It solidified the transition from the Marine Corps to the civilian world.”
Gillespie recalled the positive impact the photoshoot had on his prospects and career change. Once he updated his LinkedIn profile with the new professional photographs taken by Pomeroy, he noticed that his relationships and credibility improved, giving him an overall confidence boost.
“I think it’s really important for veterans to have their picture taken,” Gillespie said. “It would give them the confidence that they can stand out and present a very professional side of themselves.”
Photography has been a passion for Pomeroy since childhood. She made the decision to turn her hobby into a profession over 20 years ago and has been running a successful photography business ever since.
“It’s really what I want to do for the rest of my life,” said Pomeroy, who specializes in portraits. “I really felt like it was my calling.”
Pomeroy is the only volunteer photographer for Portraits for Patriots in the Greater Bay Area, which means she has had attendees travel to her studio from all over the state.
“When I find out I have a new client that comes to me through this organization, for me, it’s life changing,” Pomeroy said. “The people I’ve met have been amazing.”
Pomeroy explained that the majority of clients who come to Portraits for Patriots have never experienced a professional photo shoot before meeting her. Because of this, she said she prioritizes making sure her subjects are comfortable and able to let their guard down.
“I never want anyone to feel rushed. I really take the time with people to make them feel comfortable on the court,” Pomeroy said. “My studio is a judgment-free zone.”
Since she began associating with the nonprofit organization, she has donated an estimated $7,000 in time and photographs.
Karen Denny served 20 years in the US Coast Guard before beginning her transition out of military life. Like Gillespie, Denny discovered Portraits for Patriots through a LinkedIn post shared by one of his contacts.
“It’s a huge transition and there’s so much to figure out,” Denny said of leaving the military. “It’s daunting to take even those small steps; it can feel overwhelming.”
Denny was another recipient of professional portrait images donated by Pomeroy’s studio.
Denny recalled the impact the pictures had once she changed her profile pictures online. The idea of completely changing careers after more than two decades seemed less difficult to her once she laid eyes on his portrait.
“I could literally see my professional self grow. I came out of there a different person,” she said. “I still had a long way to go in this transition process, but this step was huge for me. I couldn’t have done it without Nina’s help.”
Reynaldo Rios Jr., who served in the U.S. Air Force for more than 20 years, retiring with the rank of senior master sergeant, was also a Pomeroy customer during his transition to the civilian workforce. .
He also heard about the organization through LinkedIn, applied and was put in touch with Pomeroy. He said he was intrigued by the program because it not only offered portraits for service members, but also for their spouses.
“I thought it was very unique because a lot of times we don’t necessarily think about transitioning into a family,” Rios said.
Pomeroy confirmed that she would be able to photograph both Rios and his wife in the same session, encouraging them to visit his studio together.
“She took her time and talked to us throughout the session, coaching us and cheering us up with compliments,” Rios said. “It was a really fun experience that completely satisfied us as a team.”
Rios explained how having new professional images to flaunt has helped him and his wife adjust to their new life.
“When you have something like that representing you on LinkedIn, you’re going to use those professional likenesses for years,” Rios said. “You walk a little taller with your chest a little more bulging because you just feel elevated.”
Pomeroy plans to move his photography business to a larger studio in the area later this year. She hopes to expand her work and continue to provide photography services to the community.
“I live with gratitude every day and everyone who walks through my door — I’m grateful to them and to be able to share with them, I think it’s a gift,” Pomeroy said. “I really want to capture who they are in terms of their experiences, the wisdom they have, and what they bring to new employers.”
For more information about the nonprofit Portraits for Patriots, visit www.portraitsforpatriots.org.