As the Newcomer English teacher at Denver South High School, I work with students who have disrupted education, have low to no literacy in their first language, and are recent arrivals to the United States. These students bring a wealth of knowledge, experiences, and trauma, and the chance for them to share their stories is an invaluable experience. 

When we worked with Dona Laurita, a professional photographer, and indomitable, kind, human, each of my students’ lives changed for the better. Below is an example of what the experience meant to our program: 

Dona came into their lives when they needed a voice. Even when their from-everywhere-but-here voices didn't have the English words, she knew they had a voice. A voice that could be captured with a silhouette, an object (a butterfly, a soccer goal, a basketball net) decorating the background, a set of braids flying through the sky, a snow-covered backdrop of Denver's best park out of focus...because her focus was them.  Immigration stories. Refugee stories. Lost mother/father/brother/sister stories. Stories of trauma, of grief. Of hope, of renewal. Dona listened to them all. She captured them all. She recorded their words, through our patient interpreters, through her patience, and her kindness, until she had a moment to spend with her art. Her art would give a voice to the voiceless. Her patience and kindness made a home where the students often had none. Her love for what is good in humanity is found in their stories.

Dona Laurita is an artist, as are the Newcomers. And tonight, tomorrow, and for the future of humanity, they will share their art with you. The outlines of their young lives rest behind these images. Their words will haunt you and lull you to sleep. And you will see the beauty of life, the beauty of photography, the beauty of stories that we need to hear. Dona has given a voice to the voiceless.  Listen. I believe that Dona brings honor and respect to humans who are seeking a better chance at life in the United States. We at South H.S. look forward to working with her again.

Karen Vittetoe, Newcomer English Teacher, Denver South High School

The photographs that you captured of our wedding greatly exceeded our most wild and creative imaginings. After our wedding, we were inundated with pictures that some of our friends and family took. Photography is their hobby and they have nice, expensive cameras. The pictures they sent us were good.

Once I received our photographs from you, I had a whole new understanding of the differences that exist between photography as a hobby and photography as an art (by an experienced artist). They really should not be compared. You revealed breathtaking moments of our wedding and candid pictures of our whole party. I didn’t notice most of these details on the “day of” because it all happened so fast. I wouldn’t have seen those precious and fleeting moments at all if you hadn’t caught them. I am so thankful that I have images that capture the essence of the joy, love, and playfulness that was at our wedding. Thank you for making our wedding pictures into fine art.

Hugs & Love, Annalise

- Annalise, Wedding Client

"We hired Dona to photograph our family... not a small feat since there are eight of us! She showed up at our home ready to play, which put all of us at ease. My seven-year-old son was not particularly cooperative that day, but Dona was a champ. She followed his lead and was able to capture him in his natural-spirited state. We have one shot, worth a million, of him flying high in the air, unencumbered on his swing. I now have that photo enlarged as a canvas and hanging in his room. And that isn't all. Somehow, Dona was able to deliver some beautiful family portraits of all of us cuddled up and happy, the children caught in play, and even one of my husband and I in a quiet moment. The love and joy between us is evident. I am grateful for the documented memories. Thanks, Dona!"

- D.N., Family Portrait Client

"We couldn't be happier with the portrait collection Dona photographed of us.  You can imagine, asking three nearly teenage kids to be happy about getting a family portrait taken--Dona immediately had them smiling, at ease, and enjoying the experience.  Then, once we received the pictures themselves, we were blown away by how Dona had captured the essence of our personalities and relationships with each other through her candid and beautiful photography.  Not one picture looked awkward or staged because our joy in the moment and each other was the prevailing aspect.  When it came time to place an order since I couldn't decide which one or two to hang above our mantel, Dona helped me pick a collection.  Now I have an exhibit of art that is a focal point in our living room, as well as a daily reminder of our family's love.  Thanks Dona!"

- Kelli, Family Portrait Client

"My son had his senior photo shoot with Dona Laurita, and I would like to express how incredibly happy we were with this photo shoot.
Dona Laurita was very professional working with my son using his ideas, and props and getting to know what Gabe wanted for his senior photo shoot.  She offered advice, and suggestions along with her ideas and thoughts to enhance the pictures.  She took a variety of shots with different scenes and with changes of clothing.
Gabe had so much fun, laughing and posing while following Dona’s very clear directions.  I had a lot of fun watching the whole process, especially Dona using the clouds, scenery, lighting, and props for the best-ever pictures.
Throughout the shoot, Dona was smiling, encouraging, and fun to be with.
Upon looking at the photo link, we were amazed at how many great pictures there are to choose from.
Dona Laurita was very professional with the turnaround time. We had plenty of time to view the photos and choose one for the school yearbook, meeting the deadline.  Also, I found her very flexible in helping me put together the sizes and types (glossy, canvas, etc.) of pictures that I want for my final order of senior pictures.
Thank you, Dona!

- Marianne and Gabe, Senior Portrait Clients

"You did such a wonderful job of capturing my kids' smiles in their school pics this year- especially Nova.  We can't stop looking at her photo. It's captivating!  You got the essence of her, for sure.  And Axel, who gets quite nervous when it comes to posed photos, looks genuinely happy. Thanks very much!"

- Jen, School Portrait Client

"Dona did such a great job photographing our wedding.  She didn’t just take pictures; her images tell the story of the day.  We had a small wedding in our backyard, but Dona captured the beauty of the simple surroundings and the magic of the atmosphere that was created by having our family and friends gathered at our home.  We are thrilled with the results and will treasure the memories her images provoke for years to come.   Thank you, Dona!"

- Emily, Wedding Client