FRANKFORT — Loreina Whalen's face lit up like a lucky contestant on a makeover show when she saw her up-do and new makeup in a hand-held mirror.
"I look as young as you," said Whalen, 85, taking a gentle jab at her daughter Kay Wilson, 52, who was similarly done up.
Saturday was the first time Whalen and Wilson were professionally made up and the first time in a long time that mother and daughter had professional portraits taken.
"That's why we are here," said Sharley Hughes, who helped organize the event for the Central Kentucky Photography Group. "We want to take pictures of people who otherwise wouldn't have a chance to have their pictures professionally taken."
When times are tough, as they are now for many families, extras like a portrait just aren't a priority, Hughes said. But family pictures are always a treasure, and preserving a family moment is the whole point of the exercise.
The Frankfort group was inspired by Help-Portrait, a movement started by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart in 2009. The movement has since spread to 54 countries. In Kentucky there are active groups in Bowling Green, Frankfort and Lexington.
The Help-Portrait Web site encourages photographers to forgo corporate sponsors but "go all out" by bringing toys or food to make the event festive. There was a spread of cookies and treats available Saturday, but for Wilson and Whalen and the 20 or so other families that had their pictures taken, the photo shoot was the highlight. Each left with a CD of pictures to use as they saw fit.
After about 20 minutes in hair and makeup, Whalen and Wilson, who were joined later in the day by other family members, were led through the rooms at First Christian Church usually used for fellowship and Bible study to a makeshift photo studio.
Huge hooded lights blinked as photographer Chris Hens ley clicked and coaxed the two through a dozen poses.
"This is just great," said JeQueeta Carothers, an unemployed cashier who came with her two daughters for a family portrait. Money was tight, she said, and getting pictures is a gift that she plans to keep giving. The portrait will be used on Christmas cards and as gifts to friends and family, she said.
The Frankfort group was pleased with the turnout for its first event, Hughes said.
Photographer Sandra Dee Burchett of Nicholasville was thrilled at the chance to give back.
"The last woman I took pictures of just kept saying, 'I'm a model, I'm a model,' and I was saying, 'Yes, you're beautiful.' They are feeling special," she said.
Andrew Fore has organized the first Lexington Help-Portrait event, which will be Saturday. He's not sure how many people will come to the Rescue Mission to have portraits taken. It could be a couple dozen or a couple hundred. Either way, he said, he and the other volunteers will make it work.
"It's more the merrier," said Fore, "That's what it is all about. It's all about the people who are going to come through the door."