For a photographer what’s not in an image is just as important as what is. For newspaper photographers, our images don’t contain many people right now amid the coronavirus pandemic, but for a portrait photographer a photo with no people in it won’t do.

Local portrait photographer Paul Gero is spending his time, while social distancing, photographing those who are doing the same.

“It is a difficult time for so many and I am grateful that we are here close to family, all of us are healthy and safe and also grateful for the people continuing to work like first responders, grocery store workers, truck drivers, delivery services, restaurants doing carry out and the media for helping keep us informed,” Gero wrote in a post on his website.

Gero, a former newspaper photojournalist, has literally and figuratively been looking through his lens to figure out how he could capture this time in photos.

“I’ve been photographing professionally for over 35 years and have never seen anything quite like what our country and our world is experiencing right now,” he wrote.

Gero has started photographing family and neighbors in Lake Mills, from their front porches or inside their doors, while he stands on the sidewalk.

“I believe I found a way to do that in a safe and responsible way, following all current CDC social distancing recommendations, while creating work that is important, beautiful and is my gift to you and your family.”

Gero is using a longer zoom lens to create an environmental portrait of families in Lake Mills and the surrounding area.

“You will receive the photographs as my gift through a digital download and you are free to share and print while allowing me to create this work and share it on my website, social networks and in printed materials.”

The idea for the project started when he went to his niece and nephew-in-law’s home last week and their two girls were in the front window. He said his niece and the children stayed inside as his nephew-in-law came out to give him what he came for.

“But the image of the girls at the window stayed in the front of my mind,” he wrote. “It was a beautiful scene, poignant and also truly revealing of the time we are in. And I didn’t have a camera with me to photograph it. As is common for photographers, the image that ‘got away’ gnawed at me.”

He came back later and proposed taking a photo of the family through their glass door.

Gero plans to compile a coffee table book of the images when they are complete.

Those interested in participating should contact Paul F. Gero Photography at 920-728-6783 or

All the images were captured of healthy people, without symptoms of coronavirus or any other sickness. There is no charge for these portraits.

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