Rochelle Wilhelms
Home »
About »
How It All Began


I come from a long line of photography lovers. Both of my grandfathers dabbled in photography along with my dad. So naturally, at the ripe old age of six, I received a little black 110 film camera for my birthday. Yay Me!! There was, however, one rule with its use: I was told that I could NEVER TAKE THE CAMERA TO SCHOOL for fear of losing it or someone stealing it. After all, I was six! How could I be expected to take care of such an expensive item? I could, however, photograph whatever I wanted at home.

Enter Dee Dee (last name withheld to protect the innocent) from my first-grade class at Kingswood Elementary School.

Dee Dee was blonde and perfect. A short-haired little girl who thought very highly of herself, Dee Dee had something special in her possession. She knew she was perfect and could prove it. Me?... not so much.

Naturally when Dee Dee brought her sparkling diamond-filled tiara to school for "show-and-tell" AND told everyone that she was a “real-life princess”, I was floored! Everyone wanted to just be in her presence. Everyone wanted to play with Dee Dee. Everyone wanted to be near her. Everyone wanted to BE her. (at least that’s what I thought in my six-year-old mind.)

So, I did what any reasonably sane little girl would do to prove her “coolness”. I snuck my camera into school!

Looking back, it wasn’t that I wanted a picture of said princess, but rather, I wanted to feel good about myself like Dee Dee did and have everyone else see this “valuable thing” that I had, just like her tiara. What I really wanted looking back… I wanted them to see my value!

(BTW, Knowing and seeing your value is as important at six as it is at 36 or 66 or 96!)

So sneakily, I managed to smuggle my newfound camera past my parents and onto the school playground. I had one of the best days of my life. And boy did it feel good! The children swarmed around me like bees to meat and everyone wanted “me” to take their picture. I felt important. Heck, I WAS important and I was seen as being cool. I didn’t need a tiara or a title to prove my value. I had a camera!

Well, as you could imagine, my dad sent the film off for processing and I thought nothing of it, after all, I didn’t even know how this thing worked. I just knew I was cool and that’s all that mattered!

Imagine my horror when 2 weeks later my dad called me into his office to look at my newfound portfolio! To make a long story short, I ended up getting a very long lecture about disobedience and a hefty 1970’s spanking! Of course, I finally learned to obey, (until my teenage years - another story for another time) and never again took the camera to school.

Until high school. For some dumb reason, I chose a pre-period elective and had to get to school a whole hour before the day even started. That elective was... You guessed it, FILM PHOTOGRAPHY!

I LOVED THAT CLASS! I loved the darkroom, the process of dodging and burning, the peaceful red light in the pitch-black stillness, and again the way it made me feel. This time though, it wasn’t about me being important. It was about me coming alive. Creativity was being birthed in me and to be honest, it was the only time I actually looked forward to getting up in the morning and actually going to school! It was pure bliss. And then I graduated.

Life happened. I moved to Seattle, and bumped my way through life until I settled on becoming… No, not a photographer... a flight attendant! Little did I know, that not only was creativity in my bones, but travel was there as well! Again, I found something to get up for! I loved waking up in a new city each week, being able to travel the globe and meet new people every day! It was exciting, it was new and naturally, I took my camera with me.

After a couple of globe-trotting years, I ended that career for other things, got married, and started having my own little Dee Dee’s, so once again I pulled out my trusty camera. This time it was digital and I actually had to take a college class (more like 9 classes) to even work the dang thing!

These days I have been fortunate enough to marry travel with creativity in being both a local photographer with a studio and a destination wedding photographer at the same time. It is no longer about me and my importance, for I have truly settled into who I am. I’ve had the privilege of photographing weddings in Europe and the states, as well as fascinating people in the studio. I enjoy my life now more than ever and have many beautiful reasons to wake up in the morning including amazing clients like you, a wonderful husband of many years, three crazy kids who are growing up too fast, and an English cream golden retriever named Lacey Mae! I no longer feel the need to prove myself to anyone, tiara or no tiara. Instead, I have figured out where my talents lie and have built a life around showing others their value and the best version of themselves. It truly has become the passion I love and once again the purpose to get up for.

And just for the record, and this is true, I ended up buying myself a beautiful tiara about ten years back. It was a whim and I don’t regret it. I actually wear it now and then while I clean the house. It’s a reminder to me of my worth as I serve myself and my family with clean toilets and fresh-smelling laundry... and also to not take myself too seriously. Wanna Wear it?