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Local photographer opens studio in Southwest Detroit

Rochelle poses with child client in “Baby Love”

Raina L. Baker
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Detroit photographer Shawn Rochelle has ann-ounced her new photography studio opening in Southwest Detroit.

Rochelle says she intentionally placed her business and art in Detroit, a place that many don’t view as aesthetically pleasing.

In an interview with the Michigan Citizen, she recalled her first professional photo shoot, which she says happens to be one of her favorites.

“A co-worker wanted me to photograph her wedding but at the time I didn’t photograph people. I was more interested in objects and architecture,” Rochelle said.

Her coworker absolutely would not take no for an answer, which she says made her branch out as a photographer.

Rochelle says when the photos of the wedding and reception came back she was amazed.

She remembers her co-worker crying when she received the photos and felt she’d achieved her goal to evoke emotion in her art.

“The lens inspires tears,” she said. “You can see the emotion in people and capture some things that you can’t in a building.”

But some buildings make for great pictures on the inside. Rochelle found beauty in places she hadn’t given much thought to before. When she decided she wanted to open a photography studio, she set out looking for a commercial building. Her mother suggested she use their property down the street from their home. “Just give it a try,” her mother said.

And she did. Shawn Rochelle Photography LLC, located in the Hubbard-Richard neighborhood, offers photo shoots and portrait photography and will also house a back room gallery. One of the most innovative and communal aspects of Shawn Rochelle Photography is that other interested photographers will be able to utilize the space.

Rochelle says the journey has been rough, stressful and overwhelming but she could see the end in the beginning. That’s what kept her going.

“My inspiration is my life,” says Rochelle. “When I drive around, people look like photographs to me.”

The self-taught photographer became interested in photography in high school, she says, because she was fascinated with clouds. One of her favorite pastimes was going to Belle Isle early in the morning to take pictures of the clouds.

“It’s one of the most peaceful places you can be in Detroit,” she said of the city jewel.

Rochelle says she looks forward to capturing the emotion of people in her pictures and

sharing her camera with the community at her new studio.

This multi-talented yet humble artist, who would describe herself as Neo-soul if she had to, loves poetry, loves to read, loves graffiti, loves parks and loves that she lives in Southwest Detroit. “That’s art,” she said of the culture-rich community.

Rochelle has done wedding, landscape, architecture, urban, scenic and portrait pieces. Although she captures joy, innocence, simplicity and mood, she looks forward to capturing melancholy pieces as well. To some, she already has.

“All of Detroit is photogenic,” she said. Rochelle says where many see a dilapidated city, she sees art. Some of her work showcases fallen trees in Detroit neighborhoods, graffiti and abandoned buildings.

Rochelle says her work is most fun and she’s most passionate when she has 100 percent control. “You have to let the artist be the artist,” Rochelle says. She likes when people listen to her ideas and let her put her “spin” on it.

Rochelle wants people who come to her to know “it’s an experience. Personal photographers go above and beyond.”

“You have to find someone (an artist) who has a spirit that matches yours, keep each other motivated.” With her Canon camera and hot pink camera strap, eye for roses under concrete, and bright smile that is a quintessential aspect of passion and happiness, Rochelle is working hard at her craft.

“I grab my camera and I’m me. I appreciate being me in my raggedy jeans.”

Rochelle encourages small business not to try to do or specialize in everything but “to give a different eye on things and focus on things that will make your business grow.”

She believes that rather than leaving buildings vacant in Detroit, there are possibilities for renovation through innovation.

This Detroit photographer is a prime example of the progress the city continues to make with citizens bringing back their gifts and talents.

“It goes a long way beyond the camera.”

For more information, visit www.shawn or e-mail srphotog247@ Sessions are by appointment only.

Raina L. Baker is a journalism student at Howard University and will enter into her senior year in the fall. She is interning with the Michigan Citizen for the summer. Raina can be reached at

Photo Courtesy of Shawn Rochelle


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