This week we highlight Phoenix based photographer Anna Rochelle. Growing up Anna was the kid that danced and did every artsy-craftsy thing that she could get her hands onto. She was gifted with her first camera Christmas of 2008 and now she is pursuing what she loves to do. Check out our new year interview with Anna Rochelle.
Q: Who is Anna Rochelle, what do you do, and why?
A: I am a photographer in the Phoenix area. I am somebody who is passionate about people, getting to know their stories, and learning why they do what they do. I am a creative at heart who is passionate about people and building meaningful relationships. I do what I do because it is fulfilling, it makes me feel alive, and it makes me feel like I am living with a purpose. It’s also a great outlet for expression!
Q: Tell us a little bit more about your background. Where did you grow up?
A: I was born in Phoenix, and lived all over the Valley. My family moved to Texas when I was 17. I was homeschooled the majority of my life and I attended college in Georgia. I moved back to Phoenix a few years ago and Graduated from ASU! I am super appreciative that I had the opportunity to move around. I had a lot of varied experiences that broadened my horizons, and living in other parts of the country made me appreciate the desert differently when I moved back.
Q: When did you develop a love for photography and do you remember when you received your first camera?
A: I had a bright blue point-and-shoot camera as a teenager. I photographed family vacations and holidays, then my parents bought me my first DSLR camera around Christmas of 2008. I had no clue how to work all the camera settings, I ended up taking a class at a local community college to understand how to shoot on manual, and then I started doing photo shoots for people I knew. The more I learned the tools-of-the-trade, the more photography became another form of artistic expression!
Q: At what moment did you know you wanted to start pursuing photography full time?
A: I think it was 2010, I knew I wanted to pursue learning photography formally and I set my sights at studying with photography as my major. I decided to go to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Atlanta, GA. I didn’t end up graduating from SCAD, but living in Atlanta and studying in that creative environment was an experience I treasure. In 2013, I ended up laying the camera down and going in a different direction education-wise.
In mid 2016, my life shifted in a dramatic way, the following months led me to tackle a major life re-evaluation. I felt completely spent emotionally, physically, and spiritually, but it was also like I was starting with a blank slate. I asked myself, “What do I actually want to do?”, “How could I make that happen”, and “Do I even believe I could really make this happen?” I noticed I was constantly focusing on what “I DON’T know,” and that focus made me freeze in self-doubt rather than move forward. When I decided to stop and actually focus on what I DID know and build step-by-step from that point, I started to see hope and growth. And, in the first quarter of 2017 I turned to pursue photography full time.
Q: According to Forbes, the world’s best destinations for travel photography in 2017 are Norway, Dubai, Hawaii, Vermont, the Great Barrier Reef, Croatia, Southeast China, Borneo, Southern Brazil, and Iceland. If you were given the opportunity to travel and shoot in only 3 of the destinations, what 3 locations would you choose?
A: First and foremost, let it be known that I love travel photography! I definitely say Iceland because that is one of my dream destinations. The next destination I would choose would be Norway because I had the opportunity to visit when I was 9 months old when my grandparents were there and I would love to go back as an adult! I would really like to explore South East Asia, so for my third destination I choose Borneo.
Q: We did a deep dive into your Instagram and noticed your love for Ben & Jerry’s Salted Caramel Core Ice Cream. What is your favorite Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream flavor?
A: So I love all of the flavors that include caramel! But my favorite Ben & Jerry’s concoction is taking their chocolate chip cookie dough and mixing in fresh raspberries - it might sound odd, but it’s delicious!
Q: In 2014 the Spurs won the NBA Championship and you were definitely excited about it. The NBA season has just started...who is going to win the championship this year?
A: So, Growing up my dad was a pretty big basketball fan. I can remember watching the Phoenix Suns play when I was quite small. I loved Charles Barkley! Now, I enjoy watching the championships, but I don’t follow it closely through the entire season. As for the championship, I’d enjoy watching the Spurs or the Golden State Warriors battle the Cavs again!
Q: Back in January of 2013, you tweeted an Audrey Hepburn quote. “Nothing is possible, the word itself says I’m possible.” What does this quote mean to you and how have you applied it your life?
A: I am drawn to words. I like breaking them down, discovering their roots, and learning about definitions. When I read this quote, I thought, “This is awesome!” We’re held down and back by so many negative things in life. We can use constant affirmation and positive thoughts. I really like the idea of what could be accomplished if we believed that maybe anything is possible.
Q: You have been published in the Thomasville Center for the Arts Inaugural Issue and Chandler Lifestyle Magazine. What’s next for Anna Rochelle the photographer and are there any publications that you would like have feature your work?
A: It’s awesome to be able to see your work in print and it’s a great experience to work professionally in the editorial world. If I could be published in a magazine of my choice, it would have to be Darling Magazine. Darling Magazine is made by women for women and the women in their magazine are not retouched. They are fostering so much creativity, positivity, and inspiration in media. I really love everything about their platform. I’d just be over-the-moon if I got to work with them.
Q: So we have heard that you are working on a special veterans photography project. Are you able to give us any insight on this project and how can people get involved?
A: The project was inspired by a man that I had spoke to a few years while I was photographing his grandson’s birthday party. I stopped for a moment to talk to him and he started telling me stories about his time in the military. He was so passionate and enthusiastic when having someone there who was interested to listen to his experiences. I was inspired. Several years later, coming back to photography I thought this project would be the perfect marriage of photography and connecting with people’s stories. I feel very inspired when I am interviewing others and hearing about their lives. It has definitely been a fulfilling experience thus far. People can get involved by recommending veterans they know who would be willing to share their stories. I would also like to partner this project with an organization that is giving back to our veterans.
Q: Do you have any advice for up and coming photographers?
A: I have a quote on my wall that says, “If you are always trying to be normal, you’ll never know how amazing you could be.” There will be times where you will face rejection and may even get bogged down by social media and comparing yourself to other artists. Remember to always be yourself and keep creating until you find your unique voice. Know that there will be times where you might feel uninspired but you can find a way to work your way out of those slumps. Believe that you have something to say and that if you put your workout into the world-it WILL impact someone somewhere.
Q: With all of our interviews, we like to sign off by saying thank you! We know you’re trending, which is why we chose you to be one of our featured guests. In honor of the tradition, we would like you to finish the sentence…I’m trending because…
A: I’m trending because I am brave enough to try and I want to inspire others to do the same!