Sanctuary in a salon



When I arrived at a local hair salon, only one family had appeared to take advantage of an offer of free makeovers for Hurricane Katrina survivors living in the Baltimore area. Helen Duplessis and four of her daughters, formerly of New Orleans, had the salon to themselves.

As makeup artist Nathan Charles went to work on Helen, they were in front of a large window. That's what made this picture work. The image was overexposed for the light in the window and the facial tones. With that exposure, the well-lit details seen through the window disappeared, giving a clean background for the two subjects.

As these elements fell into place, the picture essentially edited itself. Helen's beautiful and relaxed profile is captured just as Nathan begins to apply makeup.

The stylists in the shop seemed to enjoy the morning as much as those getting the makeovers, watching others work when they weren't busy.

Helen told me that she had been receiving radiation treatments for cancer in three cities since Katrina. She said she was getting ready for her last treatment at Johns Hopkins.

For two hours, the thoughts of the hurricane and its aftermath seemed far from her mind as she and her daughters enjoyed a morning of pampering.

Said salon owner Tony Williams: "If you look good, you feel good." The Duplessis ladies looked great.

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