Fort Worth photographer’s focus on local charities helps ‘get the word out’

dfwnewsa | December 7, 2023 | 1 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

Fort Worth photographer’s focus on local charities helps ‘get the word out’

Rachel DeLira, a respected photographer in Fort Worth, poses for a portrait at Casa Azul on Dec. 1, 2023. (Sandra Sadek | Fort Worth Report)
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It’s hard to miss Rachel DeLira in the crowd, with her bright smile and camera in hand. 

Best known for her glamorous magazine-style photos, DeLira, 53, has been busy since a political event gig early in her career opened the door to photographing some of Fort Worth’s biggest organizations and well-known figures. 

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She went from shooting quinceaneras to photographing presidents, senators, ambassadors, governors and other powerful political figures visiting Fort Worth: former President Barack Obama, President Joe Biden, Sen. John Cornyn, Gov. Greg Abbott, presidential candidate Nikki Haley and Senate Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries — not to mention Fort Worth and Tarrant County’s own city officials, county officials and political candidates across the aisle. 

“I’ve shot everybody,” DeLira said. “What I love is, in this town, you can do everything. Even though there’s heavy politics … when it comes to media things, they have to recognize that they want a good quality (photo) and not play the political game.”

Photography wasn’t the career path the El Paso native first envisioned for herself. 

While studying at a broadcasting school in California, DeLira realized it was not for her and began to dabble in stunt work, working mostly in Western films. But the constant traveling with the stunt group made her feel lonely and that career path came to an end, she said.  

After relocating to the metroplex for a medical procedure in her mid-20s, DeLira started working on her associate degree from Dallas College’s North Lake campus in video technology. She slowly found herself working behind the camera and producing content. Since then, the gigs have just kept coming. 

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DeLira believes she stood out from the pool of photographers by viewing her work as not just snapping a moment in time — she makes art out of it. 

“Everybody wants to look like they’re in a magazine, and I think that’s what gets me the jobs versus everybody else who’s just trying to do quick (shots),” DeLira said. “When (subjects) look good, I look good.”

While DeLira is open to most photography jobs, it’s photographing events or organizations that support families, Latinos or kids that hold a special place for her. Over the years, she has photographed events like the Fort Worth Margarita Ball, A Wish with Wings, and several of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s events.

“She’s supportive of all these charities that she does things for. It’s not an event without Rachel being there,” said Lesley Irwin, A Wish with Wings community outreach and special events director, who has known her for eight years. 

But DeLira doesn’t shy away from working with smaller groups. She does cover shoots for The Metro Report and also puts together a full-page spread for them that highlights what’s happening in the city. She hopes her photos can help smaller nonprofits find success allowing them to continue to help those in need. 

That’s her way to give back to the community. 

“I really try to pull out some things and give it that extra work and glam so that they can use it to market, to hopefully bring in another big sponsor, because it’s the big sponsors that are going to help bring everything together,” DeLira said. “That’s where the small nonprofits kind of start to suffer.”

Irwin said DeLira is a positive leader and well respected in the city of Fort Worth, but there’s even more to her appeal.

“People want to be around her because of her outgoing personality and her beautiful smile,” Irwin said. 

When she’s not jumping from event to event, DeLira sets down her camera and takes the time to care for her health. 

DeLira fought off type 2 diabetes and is in stable remission. But just when she started celebrating her victory, she was diagnosed with B-cell skin lymphoma. It was scary, she said. 

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“It’s like, ‘Man, I just celebrated the fight against diabetes.’ I wanted to keep inspiring people, especially people my age,” DeLira said. 

At this time, DeLira has also won this battle, too, and it has not slowed her down. 

Running has become a passion and the key to staying healthy. She shares her journey on her social media accounts. DeLira also plans to finish her bachelor’s degree after her youngest son graduates from high school while continuing to shoot photos of Fort Worth’s biggest moments. 

“I’m trying to say, you can do this too. You can make a career out of this,” DeLira said. “Don’t let other people talk you down.”

Rachel DeLira’s Bio:

Birthplace: Pomona, California

Moved to Fort Worth: 1992

Family: Her husband of 28 years and their three sons.

Education: Associate of Applied Science in video technology from Dallas College’s North Lake campus. 

Work Experience: Rachel has been a photographer for 28 years. 

Volunteer Experience: Mostly volunteering with nonprofits, offering to take their photos. 

First Job: Western Playland, an amusement park in El Paso. 

Advice for someone learning to be a leader: First of all, I would say to start volunteering.

Reach out to the organization and see what you can do to help and be able to network and volunteer and give out some of that community service. That’s always the best way to meet people. If you’re starting a small business like mine, network with organizations like joining your Fort Worth Chamber or local city chambers. That is always the best way to get your name out there and start networking. I always suggest going to school and learning a career.

Best advice ever received: Don’t ask permission. Just act like you’re already in charge and people just tend to follow. If you walk in and give yourself a presence … then everything will fall into place. 

Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at sandra.sadek@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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