Fort Riley, Kansas



Portraits capture love, memories for service members, families

By Kalene Lozick | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | November 17, 2017

     Photographers captured still frames of service members and their families during USO Fort Riley’s Portraits of Love, a free event held at Riley’s Con­ference Center Nov. 11.

     Michelle Tramantano, Imagine Alliance program di­rector, said the event began nine years ago as a way to give back to Soldiers and their families. They never thought it would expand to what it is today.

     “Last year, we acquired some retail locations,” Traman­tano said. “So Wolfe’s (Camera Shop), who is actually partici­pating today, is a photo specialty dealer in Topeka (Kansas). Mike Worswick, who is the owner, he volunteered his time and four photographers from his studio.”

     The newly developed part­nership between Imagine Alli­ance and Wolfe’s Camera Shop came to be when the partnership between USO Fort Riley and Imagine Alliance began seven years ago.

      Tramantano said the partner­ship with the USO allowed the program to grow bigger.

     “What families will expect to receive today, they’ll have their free, professional portrait taken,” said Crystal Tinkey, USO Fort Riley operations and program officer. “They will each receive a code that they can redeem to receive two free 5-by-7 photos, and they will have 100 percent rights to the digital copies of their photos.”

     Throughout November, USO Fort Riley celebrates “Month of the Military Fam­ily.” In doing so, Tinkey said they wanted to give more to the service members and their families.

     “So it’s really awesome to not only do this during the ‘Month of the Military Family’ but on Veterans Day to honor our veterans,” Tinkey said. “And then have that for fami­lies to maybe send to their Sol­diers down range, or mom and dad back home. So we are just really glad it came together.”

     The portraits come at an ideal time with Christmas card season and holidays are right around the corner, said Scott Payne, USO Fort Riley director.

      USO Fort Riley’s Portraits of Love was booked within four hours of going live. The event had 140 families sign up, Payne said.

      “I expect 400 to 500 peo­ple to come and enjoy and get their photos,” Tinkey said.

      Among the families who participated were the Cole family — Staff Sgt. Matthew Cole, 3rd Battalion, 66th Ar­mor Regiment, Company C , 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, wife Amber Cole and sons Cohen, Carter and Carson Cole.

      When asked what it meant to take family photos during Portraits of Love, Matthew smiled.

      “I’m excited actually,” he said. “We’re doing a lot of training right now, so it just so happens to fall on a weekend when I’m free. So I’m pretty excited.”

       Amber said their last fam­ily photo was when Cohen, the oldest, was 14 months. She added it means a lot to have the opportunity now.

       During the 15 minute session, the Cole family took individual children photos, couple photos and multiple family photos.

      The partnership between Imagine Alliance, USO Fort Riley and Wolfe’s Camera Shop filled a Veterans Day with laughter, smiles and memories waiting to be framed and hung for the families to see.