Voices of Houston: Houston photography company honors veterans with free portraits

Family portrait from 'Portraits for War Veterans' event
Family portrait from 'Portraits for War Veterans' event (Woodallen Media)

HOUSTON – For nearly 75 years, Woodallen Media has told myriads of stories through its photographs.

Founded right here in Houston in 1946, Alan ‘Woody’ and Frances Woodallen had a special love for the camera, creating a business that would capture many memories of the city and around the globe.

Archived photo from Woodallen Media (Woodallen Photography Houston 2014)

The photography company has been family owned and operated by four generations of photographers, which include Alan Montgomery, the grandson of Woody, who started working with the company at eight years old and purchased the company from his grandfather in 1974.

While both grandfather and grandson had a strong passion for photography, both Woodallen and Montgomery also had another thing in common: they served in the military.

Related: What exactly is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?

In honor of the gentlemen’s service, the photography company began an outreach program in 2005 and provided free portraits for veterans at Fort Hood.

Woodallen Media’s Chief Executive Officer Rickey Ruiz shared the importance of giving back to the community especially for men and women who have given back to our country.

Happy Veterans Day 🇺🇸 ! It was a pleasure meeting our country’s heroes and their families during our Portraits for War Veterans event. Thank you for all the brave men and women who served this country!

Posted by Woodallen Media on Wednesday, November 11, 2020

“It’s nice to be able to give back in any kind of way," said Ruiz. “We’ve been doing this for 15 years, and it’s definitely rewarding.”

While ‘Portraits for War Veterans’ has been hosted at Fort Hood for the past 14 years, in 2020 due to the pandemic, the media company brought its event to Houston, inviting local veterans and families of the community to participate.

Our “Portraits for War Veterans” event is underway! We are so honored to be able to give back to our Veteran community...

Posted by Woodallen Media on Sunday, November 8, 2020

On Sunday, November 8, about 75 families participated in the event. Some veterans did family portraits and others did headshots.

“This is a great way for them to basically just freeze a moment in time, and it’s a way to highlight a good aspect of what they’ve done to honor them,” said Ruiz. “It’s good memories for them to come together with their family and to have that as a photograph.”

Family portrait from 'Portraits for War Veterans' event (Woodallen Media)

Those who participated in the ’Portraits for War Veterans' shoot received digital copies of their portraits.

Some families printed out their portraits, posted on social media or shared with other family members. Other veterans use their headshots for business and career opportunities.

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“A lot of them were very excited because they said they’ve been needing to get one for their jobs or resumes, and some of them have been going back to school, and now they’re pursuing different careers,” said Ruiz “It’s really great just to see how happy they were.”

Veteran portrait from 'Portraits for War Veterans' event (Woodallen Media)

Ruiz hopes to continue this program and provide its services at both Fort Hood and in Houston.

“They’ve done so much for our country. I mean the amount of work we put in is nothing compared to the amount of work they put in for us, so it’s definitely a good feeling.”

As for Montgomery, he continues his grandparent’s legacy through its 74-year-old business and photography.

Woodallen Media hosts numerous outreach programs throughout the year. To view the ‘Portraits for War Veterans’ gallery and learn more about the company or how to participate in their upcoming events, you can visit its website here.

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About the Author:

Carlos Hernandez is the Digital Content Specialist for KPRC 2. He is a content guru for all things to do in and around Houston, historical pieces, foodie finds and local guides. Carlos was previously a lifestyle producer for KPRC 2's talk show "Houston Life."