portraits of my friends at engage!2014 bachelor gulch colorado


In early June I flew to Beaver Creek, Colorado to present at one of the most exclusive, amazing and over the top conferences called Engage!14 (this year anyway, as the number changes each year) The conference- created by the genius that is Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce- was hosted at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch thanks to the super sweet Syd Sexton who I had the pleasure of meeting at my first Engage a few years back at The Mandarin Oriental in Vegas. I remember Syd telling me how amazing Engage! would be there, and I was on board for it then and man oh MAN was she spot on!!! This Engage! was the best. I have always equated my Engage! experiences each time to summer camp- it’s super short in the grand scheme of things but the bonding that goes on and the true, real connections that you make with your colleagues that are at the top of their game in the industry last far beyond those three days. This was the literal epitome of summer camp in tone, location and feel. Not to mention being invited to present not one – but two classes was literally the biggest honor for me, I can’t even adequately express how that made me feel! I loved my classes, and had a blast teaching, engaging people in discussion and teasing my dancing buddy Cesar about his note taking skills! (he writes notes on his arm!) C’mon! My passion for teaching and helping others improve their businesses overwhelms me and only comes a close second to the absolute mirth I feel when I create pictures! Like. I can’t even stand myself when this happens!

Let me paint a picture for the overcommitment that went on here: I am presenting two classes. Ok, should have stopped there. Nope! I also helped manage the Engage! Photography Team (made up of Tammy Swales, Sofia Negron, John Cain Sargent and Laura DeCarlo) that documented the entire event AND decided that not shooting was not an option for me and also documented! What I decided to do differently was to focus mostly on creating some beautiful portraits of whoever, whenever. When the mood struck, the lighting was right or I was moved by anything really then BAM! There I was, creating. I was like the proverbial cat in the sparkle factory and literally could not stop! This may stress some people out, who have the ability to actually put their cameras away and ‘enjoy’ an event- I have been able to do that in the past- but I have made peace with the fact that I am not wired that way most of the time. Life is too short to not do what moves you and brings you joy and for me that is photography. I love it. I am challenged by it. I am pushed to my limits by my limitations. I chose to shoot only with natural light here, and even went so far as to shoot in almost non existent light conditions, like with Rishi and Ed Libby and the Vanity Fair style group shot. I also only shot for no more than 5 minutes on each session, many  times way way less. I thrive under pressure. I love to be challenged. And I am pretty happy with what I got, and more importantly what everyone here gave me.

Thank you for giving me your time, and being open to this experience with me! I hope to see you all at Engage!14 in Grand Cayman! And yes, I will have my camera in hand, my eyes up, and I will be stalking you!

Picture above – My girl. Stephanie Snow of Lehr & Black


This guy. Ed Libby is looking super fly!


Rishi Patel of HMR Designs  is always smiling and jovial so I thought it would be a nice change to post a serious, intense portrait of him. He is fierce! and it was almost totally dark here. No flash. Just the last light of day.


Fellow photographer Alicia Swedenborg lit up my frame with her sweet smile!


Luke Wilson of Michelle Rago Destinations I am OBSESSED with Luke. He has SPARKLY SHOES. And is so tall he makes me feel super delicate!


This group of nuts! Too many to list! Shot this in about 45 seconds, almost no light!


Siri Eklund the CEO of Two Bright Lights just GLOWED here..!!!!


I almost didn’t know who this was. No baseball hat and he’s not skulking around in the background. Josh Friedman of Elan Artists is my dancing buddy and I have been told he can rock a stand up bass although I have yet to see that! Let’s make that happen dude!


My camera has some feelings for Mr. Christopher Confero. I would have straight up shop lifted that jacket if I could fit in it!


Mr. Man who stood in the right spot! I think he is a drummer who played in the band… he didn’t have his drummer face on so I can’t confirm that but I dig this shot!


Can two people love the camera more than these two…? LOVE!! We hiked. And Ceci had on HEELS!! Kevin is always game for a shoot and I dig that about him!


Miss Michelle Rago.  I love this location, aka my portable studio that was absolutely perfect for these shots during our dine around!!


My home girl. My side kick and the talent that is Two Paper Dolls responsible for my new logo and dope site!!!! Miss Vanessa.


Kristi Drago-Price and I need to have a cuddle-off to see who is the reigning queen!! Sorry Anne for stressing you out when we did this shot!


Be still my beating heart. This is for you Jess Gordon. You’re welcome!! My love, my BFF Brian Worley.


Cyrus will put you under a spell with those eyes! DUDE. Lock it up!!


Susan Moynihan with legs that go into the next day they are so long!!! It’s like she was meant for this spot, this light!


Lacy this makes two great portraits I have of you!! Biltmore and here let’s make it a trifecta at Cayman!!


I leave you with the Silver Fox aka Bryan Rafanelli. The most kind, talented man! You are a gentleman and a scholar!

Thank you so much to everyone for giving me their time and a little bit of yourselves for me to share with the world! And an even bigger thank you to Kathryn & Rebecca, the brains and heart behind this amazing event that I am so honored to be a part of..!!! I adore you both so much!!! Can’t wait to see you all, and many new faces in Grand Cayman in November!!

XOXO – Carla

  1. Anne says:

    Beautiful shots Carla. And yes the stress almost killed me ; )

  2. These are dope, of course. I hope I can go to Cayman!

  3. Andrea Liss says:

    Your work is so beautiful Carla. You capture the soul of each person you see through your lens. Amazing.

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