“A woman is like a tea bag, you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
Debbie and I started planning her photo shoot the minute the idea came up. I’m not sure which one of us was more excited. I had a “big girl” camera that I almost never used. I had bought it a few years before and took a photography class at our local community college. I learned a little…mostly that needed a “Camera 101” class, and wasn’t ready for a “photography” class until I learned what all of those little buttons were for. I didn’t use it much after that, always opting for the lighter-weight, more cooperative pocket camera I owned. But for Debbie’s shoot I planned on doing her beauty justice with the Real Deal. The Big Girl camera was the way to go and so I charged up the batteries and even pulled out the light kit I bought and had used exactly one time before. The night before the shoot I set up a makeshift studio in my living room. I set up the lights, a few felt backdrops hung over some laundry racks, and I found a handful of props around the house. I asked my husband, Jim, to stand in as I tested the camera and the lights. Yikes! Nothing worked. NOTHING! I wanted to blame the camera. The lights. The fact was, I was unsure how to work that darn camera, every photo came out blurry. The lighting looked weird. Jim was as orange as an Oompa-Loompa. Seriously, there was no way I could possibly have Deb come the next morning in hopes of great photos when I had no idea what I was doing. My heart races now just thinking about it.
Debbie went to the mall and had her makeup done the next morning while I practiced a little more on my unwilling dogs. When she arrived I ran outside to help her carry all of her accessories into the house through the garage. I blurted out…”Just because I could sit in the garage all day that still wouldn’t make me a Buick!” Debbie didn’t know what the heck I was talking about. I explained, “Just because I HAVE that big girl camera it doesn’t mean I know how to use it!”. I was in a panic and I was so afraid that all I had hoped for to make a special experience for Debbie just wouldn’t happen.
We started shooting and honestly, it was fun, but a little on the quiet side. Wait! I had made up a DJ Jazzy Stacy Music Mix for Deb and had forgotten to put it on. I flipped on the music and the first song was Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman”. We still use that mix today and it always changes the mood. Deb and I had the best time, we laughed, we got down on the floor, we threw things in the air, we set up the camera, had Jim click the shutter and we took photos together. She changed clothes and accessories a zillion times and when we were too tired to go on Jim revived us with Fresca Floats (another favorite that has persevered…just mix Fresca, Orange Sherbet and a bendy straw).
Deb went home and I started uploading the photos the minute she pulled out of the driveway. To this day I say God held the camera that day. I have no idea how everything worked when the night before I couldn’t get one good shot. Not to say my photos were perfect, but she was in focus! Yippeeeeee! And we had so many fun poses and looks to choose from. I wish now that I’d taken more time but I had to do something with those photos so I immediately threw those barely edited images into a photo book for her. I filled the book with photos and quotes and titled it “Hair Is Just A Place To Hide: Debbie Green’s Journey Into Baldness and Beyond”.
The Eleanor Roosevelt quote in this post is something I heard ages ago and has come up for me over and over again throughout the years. I love quotes and especially those of Eleanor Roosevelt. When Debbie was diagnosed I shared this quote with her on the day she first told me. After her photo shoot I used this as the very first quote in the photo book. I think it’s so true. We don’t always know what we’re really made of while everything is “even keel”. It’s when the storm blows that we find out what strength was there all along. Today we have the honor to share the journey of others as they battle cancer and find their strength to face their disease. With each of our supermodels we offer a compilation of their photos in a book much like the one I made for Debbie, using many of those original inspirational quotes. Through the generous support of the Turning Heads project there is never a charge to our models. The professional makeup services we offer on-site, the shoot, the styling, it’s all free for these amazing women. Nothing gives us more joy than to see the model get their very own photo book, a collection of memories from their special day.