“Thank you again for the beautiful portraits and the experience as a whole--it was such a confidence booster. Despite people saying that size does not matter and there is greater acceptance of overweight people--it is still hard. I am recognizing more and more that I am beautiful just the way I am! I have so loved talking to you and appreciate your kindness. You have a wonderful way of uplifting people and you do just beautiful work. The whole process couldn't have been better and can't wait to do it again after I reach my goal weight!”


“Maria was so fun to work with. It allows me to loosen up throughout the shoot, especially when we do the more serious shots and poses. She has such an amazing way of capturing your life, thoughts and emotions in your face, especially in your eyes. I couldn't believe how well she captured the strength from overcoming this past season I went through. That's what I kept thinking about as we were shooting...and to actually see it come through so well brought me to tears during the photo and video montage reveal.”


“It was such a pleasure working with you..such a wonderful experience!”


”My experience with Heartbox Photography and Maria Abelaye was amazing! Maria made sure that every step of my journey was addressed, covered and made very specific to me, my comfort level, my needs and that the final results fit my vision. She has a very gentle, supportive, nurturing nature, so I was at ease and comfortable the entire way. I absolutely LOVE my pictures!”

- Karmen

Working with Maria was an absolute pleasure. She photographed me and my daughters in studio for family shots as well as additional professional headshots for me.  We had a blast and are delighted with the results, a set of photographs that we will treasure for life.  These images have helped capture a brief moment in time on the journey to adulthood for my girls, and Maria captured their vibrancy perfectly.  We hadn’t had professional pictures taken for many years so I didn’t know quite what to expect but Maria guided us through the process with ease for a seamless experience.  I’d recommend her without hesitation.”

- Sarah

“My experience has been great - you are professional and a quality person. I've never been so pleased with photos of myself as far as posing!”

- Tara

“Maria is a very talented and professional photographer. During the photo shoot she creates a very relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, which makes posing for me as a “non-model” very easy and fun. Instead of trying to find my optimal positions and expressions, she has a keen eye for what works best in a picture and gives precise instructions. She also knows the best back grounds and how to use those in different perspectives.”

- Eva

"I had such an amazing time with this process and felt really comfortable with everything and I really appreciated that you were so prompt and communicative throughout the process to ease any worries that I had. I liked that you had a very comprehensive worksheet for hair and makeup needs, really took my ideas into consideration, and valued my thoughts. It was such a blast to be able to have my makeup and hair done in my home and use some of my own products. I really appreciated that Kat offered to have us “collaborate” on my look. My friends thought that the makeup was STUNNING and exactly to my daily taste. I felt to beautiful that day that I refused to take my makeup off until midnight! I really loved the reveal process and I wished I could have perused forever! I’m really glad to have gotten the photos in a digital album to share with friends and family early because I really couldn’t wait to show off your great work. A lot of the photos were super flattering, really captured our personalities, and were romantic without veering into campy/cheesy. I know An really felt comfortable with being there, too - I know a lot of men are rigid/stiff because they feel like they’re imposing into a woman’s space, but you made him feel welcomed by listening to his ideas as well. Thank you for everything, I really cannot wait to frame a bunch of my shots!”

- Minh

"Not only was Maria easy and fun to work with, but her actions showed me that she truly cared about the final product through the whole process. I was given clear and accurate directions, a picture of what to expect on the day of, and the photo shoot plus the meeting after for my reveal was a blast! Maria pays attention to even the smallest details, and to me, that shows just how much she loves what she does. Another plus was the makeup artist she worked with. I got to send pictures of certain looks I liked, and ones I didn't like ahead of time so she would have an idea of the look I wanted on the day of. On the day of, the makeup artist asked me more questions AND listened to me. I was happy with my makeup, my hair, and my overall experience, and I have beautiful pictures to remember it all. Thank you, Heartbox Photography!"

- Ghia, wife and mother of 4

"Deciding to participate in this photoshoot with Maria was a vital step in my journey. I knew after seeing photos she did of a friend that she would bring out my natural beauty and confidence. From the beginning of the day with the wonderful hair and makeup artist, Kalani Brown, to our photo shoot at Lake Merritt, Maria is the ultimate professional. She knows what she is doing and how to bring out your natural beauty even if you feel like your body and face are contorting like a pretzel. I would recommend anyone who is interested in feeling amazing and capturing on camera to hire Maria. You will not be disappointed. These are photos I will treasure for a lifetime and use them as I continue to achieve my professional goals as a professor! Thank you for making this experience memorable and special. This is a testament to your good nature and ability to make others feel at ease!"

- Vicky

"Maria and her photography skills are amazing. I love Heartbox Photography not just because they photographed me beautifully but also because the person behind the camera is much more beautiful at heart. The photo session was a fun experience for me. Thank you, Maria for everything and also thank you to the whole team of Heartbox Photography. I loved the pictures and especially my family, they were all so happy to see them."

- Ruchi

"My experience with you and Heartbox Photography was amazing! I loved the whole experience from the moment Kat started doing my makeup to the day of the reveal when you handed us our images. Thank you for guiding me through the whole process. I wish I would have experienced this many years ago so I would have learned how to pose sooner, lol! I look forward to working with you again in the near future."

- Amy

"I had a blast working with Maria. Her warm personality made it so easy and comfortable to be in front of the camera. She knew exactly what shots she wanted, and the photos came out beautiful. She truly works from her heart."

- Bea

"I immensely enjoyed working with Maria.  Maria is a very talented photographer.  She has a wealth of knowledge about locations, poses, make-up and is very good with directing her subject.  Her professionalism, and gentle yet lively personality put me at ease immediately.  Maria is tireless and very thorough with her work.  Not only was the whole photo shoot experience very enjoyable, I loved the final product and am a proud owner of her work in which she made me look and feel beautiful. Many thanks and I look forward to working with you again!"

- Sukhdeep

"For the first time I am not embarrassed (nor do I look stupid) in the photos you took. It was a totally fun and enlightening experience and I am so happy I did it. Your expertise and guidance was an important factor in the pictures coming out so good (not to mention how much fun you made the experience). I highly recommend that any woman come to you for their photographic needs. They will be so happy with the classy, beautiful, and inspiring pictures as well as the fun experience. Much love and hugs to you and your whole team. You all rock!"

- Nancy, mother and grandmother


"Thank you for the photo session! It was so much fun and it was an extra special treat to be pampered since I usually have so little time for that as a mom to a toddler!"

- Elizabeth S., wife and mother of 2


"Wow, I am just blow away! You are fantastic at what you do. I had a truly amazing experience and I am so glad I went out of my comfort zone. Thank you again!"

- Holli, wife and mother of 2


"Ahhhh! I loved the preview pictures and am so excited to see more!"

-Ann, wife and mother of 2

"You did a fabulous job working with me from start to finish - super professional and committed.  It was a real pleasure meeting and working with you!"

-Elizabeth, wife and mother of 2

"I am in love with these pictures." 


"Oh, wow! Your photos are AMAZING. I am SO happy I have had a chance to work with  you."


"Loved how you just put it together!"

-Marie, mother of 2, grandmother of 2