I’m Dena Rafte

I am fascinated by people. I see something special in every person I photograph. I love capturing those moments where people feel free to be who they are. That something special is what drives me to make a connection, and once that happens, the images are magical. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of “I look too old” or “I should lose X pounds first”—but these thoughts don’t have to be reality. My goal is to capture what makes you unique and special.

From planning, to coordination on the day of the shoot, to ordering and finally advising on placement or framing of your images; I’m here to guide you. I’ll be a resource to inspire you to shatter the boundaries of your comfort zone and embrace what makes you extraordinary. I’d love to help you create photos you’ll love for years to come!

A professional photographer capturing a family portrait on a grey background for our photography portfolio.

Meet Dena

Born in New York City, and raised near Washington D.C., Dena's early career was in banking and public accounting, which quickly taught that numbers were not to be her life's calling. Dena then pivoted to IT entrepreneurship for the next 25+ years, working directly with people outside of her comfort zone every day. Dena's love of things that would let creativity flourish was the reason for the transition away from the tech sphere toward Rafte Photography.

Initially, her son was her inspiration to pick up a camera; capturing sports activities and documenting life's memories through the Nikon lens. Dena is commonly heard saying, "You aren't taking pictures for yourself. We are taking pictures for our children and grandchildren".

As luck would have it, other parents began to ask if she could do the same for them. And, she began taking holiday photos, senior portraits, and graduation ceremony images. Dena's passion for photography grew with each new client, and after honing her skills, she sold her IT company to pursue photography full-time.

With each photo shoot she undertakes, she aims to capture the beauty of life's twists and turns. She has found that when people genuinely accept themselves as they are, with all their life experiences, they are at their most beautiful. With this perspective on photography, Dena connects clients with their inner strength and true beauty and helps their best shine through with each and every photograph.


Review From Michelle From Family Portrait Photography Session With Portfolio From The Session

Dena Rafte has captured our family in photos for years

Whether working with a particular family member, or all of us at once, she makes everyone feel comfortable. She brings out the personalities of each individual she is photographing. The images she produces always show everyone looking relaxed and at their best. We are lucky we found her and have such a lovely record of our children as they have grown. Dena has photographed our most important family gatherings as well - 50th anniversary celebration, 80th birthday party. We remember these events fondly and will forever treasure the photographs.

Michelle K.

Portfolio Of Family Photos Seen With. a Review Form The Photos Subject About The Best Photographer In Houston Texas Dena Rafte

Dena has taken so many great family photos for us

The ones that truly stand out for me are those with my father. There is one particular picture of my dad and me. It’s simple and beautiful, and each time I look at it, I feel the love we have for each other.

Suneeta R.

Photos Of Elizabeth For Her Review of Rafte Photography in Houston Texas

Dena Rafte…best photography ever!

Dena has done an incredible job for our holiday family photos, our daughter’s portraits and photos for my husband’s judicial campaign. But when it came to my personal photo session as a Christmas gift for my husband, I was a little nervous. Within a few minutes, I was having a blast! I felt relaxed, confident, strong and a bit sexy! She thinks out of the box and has an incredible way of bringing out the best in her clients! Dena doesn’t just take photos, she creates memories.

Elizabeth H.

Photos From The McCormick Personal Branding Photography Session Displayed With Her Review of Dena Rafte Photography

I thought to myself, "hey, not bad for 62, in fact pretty damn good for 62"

I hate having my picture taken. I am usually the one taking pictures of the family so that I don't have to be in them! To say that the session with Dena was transformational may be a bit dramatic, however I will say that it was incredibly fun and I really did feel good about the end result. As I looked through the photos, with the many wardrobe changes, I thought to myself, "hey, not bad for 62, in fact pretty damn good for 62". I treasure the photos Dena took of me. They make me feel beautiful and sexy . Bonus - my husband loves them too!

Aileen M.

Photos From the Haug Photo Session Of Houston Executive Displayed Beside Her Review

My photography session was like a butterfly coming out of a chrysalis

My 50th!! Half a century and so much to document? Wear and Tear? Through Dena’s coaching I jumped right into one of my most memorable experiences. My photography session was like a butterfly coming out of a chrysalis. Despite apprehension of my critical eye, I found it to be fun, liberating, empowering of my femaleness and time in life. I loved it and loved what I saw. Dena truly captured who I was beyond the make-up and dresses. She bottled some of my essence and that was the best 50th birthday gift. Thank you!!

Karen H

Photo Collage From The Grace Family Photography Session

Dena has memorialized so many important moments in our lives

I think the first photo that I ever received from Dena was one of my son in preschool. Last year, she took senior photos of my daughter and my son’s business headshot. From birthdays to graduations, she has memorialized so many important moments in our lives. I am so grateful to have these pictures not only to reflect back but to look forward to sharing these with the generations to come. They are truly part of our family’s history.

Michele G.

The Oshman Photo Collage With Kids In Family Portrait

Dena thrives on the challenge and our family photos are a testament to her enthusiasm for the project

Family photographs are challenging. The photographer faces a range of ages and is charged with capturing the smiles of not just one, but often many individuals. Dena thrives on the challenge and our family photos are a testament to her enthusiasm for the project. We will treasure the moment in time she preserved for us and look forward to working with her again in years to come.

Tania O.

Dena is a fantastic photographer!

Dena is a fantastic photographer, not only because she has a great eye, but also because she has the ability to put her subjects at ease and elicit natural expressions. She is particularly good at working with teenagers and people who feel a little awkward posing for a camera. Dena has made our family photos for years, including our dog and has suggested super interesting locations. Dena has also made headshots in her studio for my husband and son for business and LinkedIn profiles. Having a good headshot is so important and Dena does an excellent job, particularly with touch-up work. Dena is a perfectionist and you can see it in her work.

Lisa M.

Each photo helps remind me of little things…things about my kids that I can savor forever

What I love about Dena’s photographs of my children are that she captures a moment, an age, a feeling, an emotion…a part of life that’s gone forever and impossible to reproduce in real life again. Each photo helps remind me of little things…things about my kids that I can savor forever.

Jane J.

Three people posing for a luxury portrait in front of a blue background.
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