02 December 2010

I Give Thanks

During my three weeks of intensive Photoshopping, I'd planned to post a handful of "canned" (already written) articles here but opted not to because I knew I couldn't be interactive. This is my community, and I want to be a part of it, not just post and run.

before and afterThree weeks, six hours and 43 minutes after my marathon Makeover Madness shoot, we completed retouching a full memory card of glamor-type portraits of high-risk teenage girls. Some readers have requested I share more details. The number of pictures I snapped was somewhat humorous. Every year, I tell anyone who will listen I take "about 600 shots." When I finished downloading on November 6, I saw that I had exactly 600 shots. Exactly! Probably couldn't do that again if I tried!

At 1:59 a.m. last Sunday morning, I finished the special effects photos I provide each girl. I still have to make movies of the stills, put them to music and burn CDs as of this writing, but hopefully I can kick all that out in a couple of nights, without staying up past 10. Fingers and toes crossed.

Every year, we have at least two or three girls who want nothing to do with the makeover until they see some of their peers going through the primping and posing. Every year, we have at least one girl who wants nothing to do with anything feminine. No makeup, no curls, no nail polish and definitely no boas or sequins!

This year, we had only one girl who didn't want to participate, and we had only one girl who thought our props were "stupid." We managed to get at least 12 poses each out of both of them. So they will receive photo albums in their gift bags, just like the rest.

One of my volunteers brought a Santa hat with a tiara on top! Who'd have ever thought of such a thing! And my goodness, was it ever popular!

I had one first-time volunteer this year who had so much fun with the girls, she filled out an application on the spot to volunteer year-round with the residential treatment center.

featheredAnother first-time volunteer is leaving the state later this year. She hopes to take this project to where she lands, and she hopes to be able to volunteer with high-risk girls there.

Every year, the makeup and hair volunteers finish their part faster than I can work through the made-over girls. So we end up with girls watching, sometimes poking fun at, the girls being photographed. Some of the girls being photographed get nervous about being watched. Some of them refuse to pose while others are watching.

This year, one of my young, exuberant and very hip volunteers recognized the situation and distracted all the waiting girls with impromptu Diana Ross and the Supremes lessons and impersonations. She played Diana and taught the girls how to be Supremes, and they all used water bottles as microphones!

Every year, we do buddy shots after we finish the portraits. This year, one of my volunteers volunteered to play basketball with the girls after we finished, and ALL the girls went to play basketball! No one wanted buddy shots. Staff members told us they typically get three or four girls who want to play basketball. Never the entire group!

charmedEvery year, I begin to get depressed and discouraged as I retouch my 350th or 400th photo or so. Every year, I begin to feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, that I will never get done, and that I'm going to spend the entire Thanksgiving holiday zapping zits once again. Every year, I try to bribe myself: Finish by Thanksgiving, and you can go mountain biking in Moab! For the second year in a row, I didn't get to go to Moab.

This year, I'm just 72 miles away from a 3,000-mile year of cycling. Every weekend of retouching featured the most beautiful and tempting weather. But I kept plugging away. I wanted Moab.

The Friday after Thanksgiving, we thought I might be able to take a short ride on Saturday if I could get 90 photos done on Friday and 90 more on Saturday. By Saturday morning, I realized I would not be able to get that much done, and I didn't want The Lizard to miss out on his ride, so I told him to go without me. I promised I would finish up so I could take Sunday off and not have to be on the computer at all.

joyThe Lizard sacrificed his own ride and helped me finish up the girls. He spent nearly the entire day Saturday blowing up teenage faces to bigger than life so he could smooth out skin and remove scars.

We didn't get to ride over the four-day break, and we haven't been to Moab all year long. Every remaining weekend of the year will likely be snowy and icy, just because I can ride. But I can ride in anything but lightning. I will get my 72 miles. Watch me!

The best part, of course, is that I'll have My Lizard along for every ride. Even though Thanksgiving wasn't what I hoped, I am more thankful than ever for everything I have. Especially My Lizard!


  1. Interesting and fun results of your photoshopping :)

  2. That is just plain beautiful and so commendable. What a wonderful thing to do for these troubled girls. Everyone deserves to feel special and you have so accomplished that with this project! Hope you hit your riding goal one mile at a time by year's end!

  3. That is sooo sweet of him! It makes everything better to know how much someone appreciates you and helps you out!

    Thanks for sharing, and have fun finishing your goal!

  4. Wow! That's a whole lot of thankfulness all around. It's just wonderful what you and your team do for these girls, and I know they'll never forget it. Thank you for sharing as much as you could about the project while honoring these girls' privacy.

    I know you'll get your miles, because you're just that committed. You go, Deb!

  5. Oh dear, amazing...!

    A couple of good people can give so much.....

  6. I used to bike all year round. Sometimes in 20 cm of snow. But the hardest was when it came down wet snow that froze and tehn left a lot of tracks from biking, driving and walking. Impsosible to ride a bike then. :(

    Good luck to you.
    Seems like you did a good job with the girls photos. I guess they were happy. :)

  7. You and your *awesome* Lizard have given so much of your precious time together and given up so many of the things you long for in this gentle quest to bring beauty and joy to these girls and women. May your thoughtfulness and kindness be returned a 1000 times over and may those pesky 72 miles latch on to your tires in the best possible ways.

    I'm so glad your Lizard is by your side, standing with you and all those girls in the thick of it. It makes it all worth while, in the end, when you share these days and months with your closest friend.

  8. What an impressive bit of work you have accomplished. I just want to add that your "Lizard" is a great kind of guy. He's someone you can skip all of the hype and fanfare with....bet his best gift ever would be for you to stand square in front of him and tell him "thanks" and he'd know it was straight an true from your heart. You are blessed in many ways!

  9. What a wonderful way to give of yourself to these girls! I can relate to all the retouching (I'm a photographer too), but I was wondering if you ever heard of Portrait Professional software? I first read about it in Rangefinder magazine and bought the program- makes portrait retouching SO much easier! I'm not a sales person, just a happy and satisfied user who wants to share. Google it and ck it out (the price is reasonable for professional software as well.) Wishing you all the best!

  10. What an inspiring story of you (and the lizard) giving so much to help these girls. You are amazing...

    Now, ride those 72 miles!!!! :)

  11. Thanks for the tip, Brenda. I definitely will be checking into that. Fingers crossed that software will run on my dino computer!


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