Scott Bideau

PERSONAL BLOG: Living Life to the Fullest + Making a Positive Difference.

Help Portrait Steamboat 2016

I just returned from a 12-hour day at Help Portrait Steamboat. This year was our largest ever, serving over 110 people in a single day with free hair and makeup, a professional portrait session, and sending them all home with a framed print.  We also had a special visitor – Santa!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with  Help-Portrait, it’s a global movement of photographers, hairstylists, makeup artists, and other volunteers donating their time, tools, and expertise to give a free portrait to those in need. I founded the Steamboat event in 2012 and continue to coordinate each year. We’ve always found an ability to go above and beyond the typical format to do things like providing a free meal to our guests, offering special Christmas presents to children in need, and send everyone home that day with a large framed print.

The event starts with making each guest feel comfortable and welcome as our distinguished guest. Local pastor Garret Prechtl volunteered at registration this year to explain the event to each guest and answer any questions they may have before asking one of our “ambassadors” to guide the group through the rest of the process.

Local hairstylists and makeup artists from the best salons in town ensure everyone is looking their absolute best before heading to the photo station. Heartfelt thanks to Emily Schmidt, Sharon Flanigon, Jessica Schlapkohl, and Mytina Eckhaus for volunteering their services, with Jessica and Mytina also helping for their third time in a row.

2016 required two professional portrait stations since doubling the number of RSVPs. We had a mixed collection of big lights, backgrounds, and other studio equipment that came from 3 different photographers in town. A special thank you to local professional photographers Andy Barnhart and CJ Berg. Each of them served over 50 people in just 6 hours, with CJ doing so for her third event in a row! These are truly professional portrait sessions for our guests.

Often times the kids are interested in how the photo equipment works. They always get a kick out of seeing thousands of watts in studio lighting fire after triggering the shutter from a large, professional dSLR. It’s also fun to photograph mom!

Being our third event, we had the processes down pretty smooth and started to let people review their images and pick a favorite for print printing. This was a special treat because often times a particular pose or composition is uniquely special to a family. All images were also emailed out for downloading after the event.

We were especially excited to welcome some new volunteers to the event, including my 6-year old daughter who helped Lindsey Richter with the printing and framing. Some of our prior guests also paid it forward as volunteers, including people with developmental disabilities from Horizons Specialized Services.

By far the most enjoyable part of the event is presenting people with their framed print. I especially love this photo of two different people showing each other their finished portrait.

And new this year – a visit from Santa! Special thanks to Brad Kindred for making that happen. Sorry the cookies were already gone Santa, but these memories and pictures will last forever.

All told we had 22 volunteers serving 117 guests with a free framed portrait. Thank you to everyone who made the event possible, from our volunteers to our guests to the library for providing the venue.

Below is a video showcasing five years of putting on this wonderful event in Steamboat Springs.



  1. I volunteered last year for the first time with Help-Portrait. It was one of the most rewarding volunteer thing I’ve ever done. I saw women walk in with a sad look of hopelessness. After getting their hair and makeup done and getting their pictures taken with their family or a friend and then being handed a framed picture, they changed into a joyous beautiful woman. I never before realized what a family picture could mean. It was wonderful to watch and see the excitement and transformations. I hope to never miss volunteering in the future

  2. I volunteered at the Help-Portrait event in December of 2016. From setup of the event, to the serving and spending time with all the incredible people throughout the event, to tear down of the event; my heart was filled with so much joy. Seeing people walk in one way, often unsure/smileless, only to leave another way, always excited/cherished/joyful, is forever framed in my heart and mind. It’s amazing how what seems like such an insignificant thing can make such a massive impact in someone’s life. I hope that I am able to be a part of this incredible event every year.

  3. It was my first Help Portrait experience as a photographer, and wow, was it amazing! I just loved being a part of the whole process. Seeing all the people walk up to me after getting their make up done was so cool, and then the look on their faces when they received their portrait. The hugs and the smiles as they left, that’s what it’s all about, especially during the Holiday season!

  4. I volunteered for the first time last year and it was a great experience. Everyone had different reason as to why it was important to them, having the chance to talk and get to know them a bit was really a joy. Such a great way to open yourself up to so many members of the community that you may never have the chance to otherwise.

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