Mood: nostalgic, romantic, moody, innocent, sunset, barefoot

Palette: red hair, flowing fabrics, overgrowth florals, soft touches of pinks


Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweet-ness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.
– Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Last April, photographer Donny Zavala invited Utterly Engaged to creatively art direct and style his workshop in Oregon and of course I said “yes!” It was a dream, because the Oregon Coast has a special place for my husband and I. A place where I always feel at home and at peace.

As you know, every time I creatively direct a shoot, I’m always asking myself the hard questions, to help me discover what kind of story I’m trying to tell. What do we want the photographers to discover as they are shooting? How can we guide the florist, the makeup artist, the wedding gown designer and take them on this journey with me? What’s lacking in this world? What does the world need more of? Through this I came to this desire of more “purity.” A word that was a stark contrast from the everyday talks of fake news, from the fighting of different ideologies, and from the the talks of war. Purity was that virtue that was missing and lacking and I ran with it. Through this, Donny and I wanted the photographers that attended the workshop to leave all their troubles at the door and come with their hearts open; to be real and vulnerable. We wanted them to look through their lens as if they were seeing for the first time. And that’s exactly what happened. As we were shooting, it was pouring rain and the strong wind was pushing us. It was definitely a challenge for everyone. But the entire creative team and the photographers were so driven to make it happen and the model was as pure, beautiful and not complaining once. It was beautiful to be a witness of. It was as if there was a purification moment that was happening and I loved every moment of it. Purity came and showed up and I hope as you scroll down to read further, that you see and discover it too.

Claire La Faye‘s gown was the perfect touch of softness.

So thankful for Kelsey Malie Calligraphy and Emma Natter‘s styling boards for making the layflat so beautiful.

I’m always so curious what drives an artist, so asked Donny, “What is it about teaching that I enjoy?”  His answer, “For me teaching and instructing has been a gift that has been the bestowed upon me for many years. However it was not something that I had discovered until I spent seven years as an adjunct instructor at a local university. Combining my teaching background with several years in management has prepared me to now take on workshops to instruct and teach others in the area photography. Though self taught as a photographer, I have been able to lean on my professional background in forging my way in the business of photography. One of the things that I really enjoy in teaching during my workshops is seeing others bringing their energy and passion for creating ways to improve their business. The give-and-take relationship from teacher to student is something that I don’t take lightly. I am professionally and personally invested in every individual in this relationship which fills me and brings joy to my profession. This is a very area that continues to fuel me to teach others as I truly enjoy seeing them succeed. Lastly, it is vitally important to me that my conversations and my working relationships with every student is something that will last a lifetime. We are social-beings; my love for sharing with others is vitally important to my own success as a professional.”

Kate Tuma is such an amazing makeup artist!

Sarah from Selva Floral Design is such a gift. She heard my heart and went beyond then what I could have imagined. Every time she would show me her creation, I was moved to tears.

PHOTOGRAPHY &  WORKSHOP INSTRUCTOR  Donny Zavala Photography | CREATIVE DIRECTOR & STYLIST Utterly Engaged  |  CINEMATOGRPAHY  Outlive Creative   |  SPEAKER  &  WORKSHOP  SPONSOR Photovision Prints | FLORAL DESIGNER & STYLIST Selva Floral  Design | MAKEUP ARTIST & HAIR STYLIST Kate Tuma   | WEDDING GOWNS Claire La Faye | HAIR ACCESSORIES Melinda Rose Design   | WEDDING RINGS Susie Saltzman | PAPER GOODS & CALLIGRAPHY Kelsey Malie Calligraphy  | SURFACE STYLING BOARDS Pilgrim & Co. by Emma Natter | RIBBONS tono & co from Shop Utterly Engaged | CUSTOM BINDERY & ALBUMS  Priscilla Foster Handmade | FILM SPONSOR Fujifilm Professional Film | MODEL ANNELISE Muse Model Management