Well-known Pittsburgh photographer Dayna Delgado certainly should be photographing politicians, celebrities and Pittsburgh’s biggest galas, as the leader of her own photography company, WEDDINGS BY DAY. She just didn’t think she “deserved” to do all this, until recently. Now 44 years old, the woman behind the camera wasn’t sure who her biological father was until a few months ago. She thought she had come from “evil,” as she described a man who would beat her mother to the point where Delgado was this close to calling the police. The same man, according to Delgado, would beat her and her brother when they were teens. Delgado recalls the man placing her on punishment “for two years just because I got a ‘D’ in a class instead of the ‘C’ or ‘B’ or ‘A’ that he thought I should have gotten.” But after all, he was their father, Delgado said. The police were never called.
But what about the other man? The first man that Delgado was introduced to when she was a child, whom she called her father? The one that was present in her life all the way until age 13? The one who was considerably better to Delgado’s mother, although the man was married to another woman the entire time? Sound confusing? Well, throw in that apartment building on Ann Street in Homestead, where river rats would sometimes make their home…under the young Delgado’s bed. “It was a terrible, nasty place, a terrible place for a child to grow up,” Delgado recalled. “We lived by railroad tracks, so there were many nights we had rats in the apartments, roaches,” and that time when a river rat was, “gnawing on my brother’s bed, chewing the wood up.”
Finally, Delgado’s mother moved them out of that apartment when Delgado was 10, and moved “up the Hill” to an apartment on Maple Avenue. “But we were still poor,” Delgado remembered. “My mother raised us on welfare, food stamps…we didn’t have the clothes other people had,” which led to teasing at school, Delgado said. Then there was the pregnancy, right after Delgado graduated from Steel Valley High School in 1995. A decade and a half later, it was Delgado who noticed that her third child, a son, wasn’t developing properly. By age 1, Delgado’s son was diagnosed with autism and sensory disorder, forcing her to quit her job as a receptionist. So, by 2012, with money hard to come by, a sometimes-loving-and-other-times-painful childhood, three children and not knowing who her real father was affecting her ability to know “who she truly was,” how did Dayna Delgado turn out to be one of the most sought-after photographers in Pittsburgh? “I just knew I had to do it. I was the only person that had my back,” Delgado said. “I knew that if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done. To me, it was a life-or-death situation. If I didn’t figure out a way, my kids wouldn’t eat.”
That “it” was going to area bars and clubs around town, setting up photo booths there, and taking photos of patrons (and instantly printing their color picture), charging a fee. People always come to the clubs looking their best, and they want to make sure it’s documented. Delgado’s profile began to rise, and she started photographing formal events and doing portraits for students. In 2017, she joined the New Pittsburgh Courier, an iconic African American publication, as a freelance photographer. Since then, she’s been front-and-center at many political events in Pittsburgh, documenting the actions of mayors, state

 representatives and city council members. She’s been on the stage as artists have performed, like Jill Scott and Kirk Franklin. She also does weddings and opened her own  portrait studio.
But there was one thing left for Delgado to figure out. Who was her real father? She went to the online DNA testing company “23 and me” in June 2021 and soon realized that the
man who she had called her father for the first 13 years of her life was indeed her father, not the second man whom she said was “forced” to call her father in her teenage years. “My mother lied to me,” Delgado said. “And everybody’s dead now so I can’t even question anybody.”
But now, she knows exactly who she is. It’s clarity. “I’m happy that I didn’t come from evil, but then I’m like, damn, you lied to me all these years and stole my relationship that I could have had with my real sisters that I know that I have now…and I built arelationship with guys that I call my brothers that are not my brothers,” Delgado revealed. “That just adds to who I am.”
Delgado shared her story because she wants it to serve as a testimony for others who may not know what they want to do with their life, or may not have the financial means to attend college, due to a shaky or poor upbringing. But even with her childhood, Delgado loved photography. She took classes while at Steel Valley, and she would always have a camera with her during her high school days. The camera, along with a never-say-die attitude, has elevated her to where she is today. “If the little girl who was scared to get out the bed and go to the bathroom because there was a river rat under her bed can be a successful business owner today,” Delgado said, “anybody can!”
Dayna Delgado’s superb eye for capturing beauty developed when she was just a child. Back in the 9th grade, when given the choice between metal/wood shop and digital communications, she chose the latter and fell in love. Soon enough, Dayna could be seen with an ever present camera around her neck and she often spent her lunch periods in the dark room, developing her shots. She honed her craft through her entire time in high school. Once digital methods of capturing photographs hit the scene, Dayna taught herself all aspects of the medium. When photography changed, she changed with it. For years to come, Dayna put the camera down and found herself in office settings as a receptionist or personal assistant. While working in an office, Dayna found that she was pregnant and after a while, it was time to go on maternity leave. Having always returned to work after a leave, this time was different. She noticed that her son wasn’t quite hitting the expected milestones and was soon diagnosed with autism and a sensory disorder. Given this development, Dayna decided to focus on caring for her son instead of returning to the office. One fateful day, a friend came over to take pictures for a birthday party at Dayna’s home. Knowing that Dayna needed to make some extra income for her family, the friend offered to give her the camera and printer that she was using so that she could get started. This was the first step in a series of events that would bring her back to her love of photography. Armed with her borrowed camera and printer, Dayna began to take and print pictures at local establishments such as bars, and lounges. After a while, patrons started asking if she did other kind of work, such as wedding photography. Even if she had never tried her hand at it before, Dayna always responded with a resounding, “Yes” and then taught herself before she had to shoot the event. She began to build her craft through experience, self -education, and her God-given gift. Now a seasoned and trusted photographer, Dayna has won multiple awards for her work. She has had the opportunity to capture many weddings, graduations, and she has also shot various celebrities and politicians. Dayna has expanded her repertoire to include product, real estate, and pet photography. She is also known as the go-to photographer for fashion photoshoots, as well as corporate and personal headshots. Dayna never returned to that office setting and has been building a life and business capturing beauty and realness.