Lifting Spirits One Photo at a Time

PLEASE NOTE: All information regarding Operation Photo is for historical purposes only. Unfortunately, we are no longer accepting cameras for this program. You can directly contact

Mitch Goldstone is an idea a minute kind-of-guy. Every few months the co-owner of an Irvine-based photo processing business rolls out another marketing initiative that makes headlines.

Operation Photo may be Goldstone’s best brainstorm yet.

In recent weeks, Goldstone and his partner Carl Berman have donated several thousand digital cameras they have collected to military families through Operation Homefront, a nonprofit group dedicated to helping relatives of serviceman deployed around the world, especially Iraq. The camera project is designed to help families stay visually connected with their loved ones overseas. Goldstone said the idea originally came from wedding photographer Jennifer Petersen. “I simply put the strength of our company and our contacts behind the effort,” Goldstone said.

In late December, Goldstone took the idea to Santa Ana-based Operation Homefront. It took off immediately.

“Separation and lack of communication is the No. 1 issue affecting military families,” says Ernie Leidiger, executive director of Operation Homefront. The group also distributes phone cards to military families.

So far, Operation Photo has donated more than 2,500 cameras worth $110,000. With photo companies such as Eastman Kodak, Olympus America and Konica Minolta donating cameras, families can send pictures to each other. To contribute or find out more about the program, go to

“What is most gratifying is to receive the e-mails from families who have benefited from this effort,” says Goldstone, who is running the operation from his store, 30 Minute Photos Etc. in Irvine. “Orange County has again proven itself a leader when it comes to giving.”

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