We had the good fortune of connecting with Donna Irene Coelho and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Donna Irene, what makes you happy? Why?
My pleasure is for capturing beautiful people and places around the world and having their story inspire change. As a travel photographer, I’ve been all around the world and out of all of the places I’ve been, my favorite have been those with the warmest people. From sleeping under the stars of the Sahara with desert people in Morocco to learning how the native women of Oaxaca have been making ceramics for generations, their stories are what fuel me. We live in a world where we are constantly thinking about ourselves, our own worries, our own needs, and it becomes easy to forget that there are 7 billion people out there each with their own struggles, joys, and a story worth telling. And getting to play a role in being a voice for them is why I’m still shooting after 15 years.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a photographer with over 10 years in the industry and have spent my career shooting just about everything. Now my main focuses are destination weddings and elopements, portraits, and commercial travel work. What I’m most passionate about is photography that captures the beauty of wildlife and nature to inspire others to protect the planet, as well as documenting natives to shine a light on indigenous cultures. In my personal life, I’ve had the opportunity to photograph indigenous people in Mexico, Peru, Kenya, and Morocco. I lived in Mexico for two years recently and have a goal of creating a photo series on the various native cultures in Mexico today.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Miami is and always will be my home, and therefore when friends visit I feel it is my duty to get them off of South Beach and show them all that Miami has to offer! Most of my favorite places are on the water or in nature. I would take them to Oleta River State Park to go kayaking and to Key Biscayne to watch the sunset. For food, having lived in Mexico I’m always on the hunt for the most authentic Mexican food in Miami and my two favorite spots are La Santa Taqueria in Little River and Taqueria Hoja in downtown Miami. For drinks, I recommend my favorite wine bar Lagniappe which I’ve spent many years watching friends play music on Thursday nights. Or if you’re into craft beer, you can never go wrong with Lincoln’s Beard which is in what I like to call the “real Miami”, the suburbs outside of the city. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shout out is to my teachers and mentors throughout high school and college that paved the way for me to be where I am today. It all started at St. Brendan High School where I was lucky enough to be a part of a photography club and have the most amazing mentor who saw the talent within me and pushed me to pursue photography professionally. That club gave me the opportunity to travel to New York and Chicago in high school to practice street photography, which were two of the trips at the very beginning of my artistic career. And in college I was privileged to be accepted into Florida State’s Entrepreneurship program where I was given the resources and tools to start a wedding photography business which I have now grown to six figures over the past 8 years.