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Legendary Locals: The Ladera Ranch Photographer and His $15,000 Photographs
by: Debbie L. Sklar
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Gero already raised $15,000 and hopes to raise $19,000 more.
Gero already raised $15,000 and hopes to raise $19,000 more.

Paul Gero of Ladera Ranch has recently published a book about O.C. kids and part of the sales go to CHOC.

The Kids of Orange County 2009 was an idea that was shared with him by Tero Sade, a photographer from Tasmania, Australia who created something similar.

“He had been doing the project for nearly a decade and raised thousands of dollars for charities there with it,” Gero, 49, says.

So far, Gero’s book has helped raise $15,000 for CHOC and each family that participates makes a check out to CHOC for the donation.

“I contribute the planning of the session, the actual photo session, as well as the post production on each session,” he explains. “We photographed 297 children for the book in 2009 from 144 families. This year, our goal is to photograph children from 200 families. The 2010 donation to CHOC is $97/family. We are hoping to raise around $19,000 or more for CHOC.”

Each child he photographs has an individual photograph in the book accompanied by their first name. The book is available through Gero’s photo studio; however, there are limited quantities on hand.

“It is primarily a treasured heirloom created primarily for the families of the participants of the Kids of Orange County project,” he says.

You can view a sample copy of the book at locations around Ladera Ranch, including AIM Mail Center, and the offices of Dr. Farschid (Tom) Fatehi, D.D.S., Dr. Kevin Hszieh, D.D.S., and Dr. Todd Engel, DDS, and Southern Orange County Pediatric Associates.

No stranger to photography, Gero is a full time portrait and wedding photographer and photographic educator who authored Digital Wedding Photography (2004) that is available on Amazon and through bookstores.

“As a kid, I wanted to play catcher for the Chicago Cubs, or be a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, or to draw a cartoon strip like Charles Schulz who drew the strip ‘Peanuts,’ " he says. “I became interested in photography at age 12 while doing a photography merit badge in Boy Scouts. The second that I saw a print emerge in the developer tray, I knew I absolutely loved photography. And I still get a kick out of framing the world in a beautiful and interesting way with my camera.”

Prior to his current work, Gero worked as a full time newspaper photographer for nearly 20 years.

“I learned from mentors in my home town (a local portrait studio, and newspaper editors there), as well as at college, reading articles and books, in seminars taught by world class photographers,” he says. “The newspaper business is an incredible training ground because a photographer can do everything from studio portraits, location portraits of business leaders, sports action photographs, documentary photography stories —it runs the gamut. That variety is what kept me so engaged in newspapers for so long.”

The best part of what he does now, however, is “capturing people in beautiful times or making fine art photographs of their most amazing creatures— their children.”

Born in upstate New York, he grew up in Illinois and Wisconsin.

He is married to wife, Nicki and the couple have two children: Kate, 4, and and son, Matthew, 4 months.

Gero likes listening to music from a variety of genres from Classical to Alternative Rock, 60s and 70s Rock and of course, documenting his family on film in his spare time.


Debbie L. Sklar is a 20+year journalism veteran residing in Southern California, where she is a writer, columnist and editor for many local, regional and national publications. Sklar may be reached via e-mail at DebbieSklar@cox.net
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