Wilhelm Photography Blog

Last year Dean asked that a T-rex be in the next Christmas Card. How can I say no to that? With the help of a friend, I have plenty of references to the original Jurassic Park to make this a very funny card. If you aren’t a Jurassic Park die hard, I’ll point them out…

The front of our card has all the usual things, the crazy scenario, the funny acting from the kids and even the dog, but it has a few subtle JP references too. Note the Barbasol can under the tree. How else would one smuggle dino embryos?

Next we have our wardrobe. Ben and I have a reverse look to the main characters. It just worked that we already had the right stuff to do it that way.

Dean (and yeah, those are his real abs. The kid’s insane) is pulling off one of Malcom’s most iconic scenes and poses.v

Makes me giggle…everytime.

Here is the inside of the card:

And of course the back…a sweet cup of hot cocoa…with ominous ripples. And if you don’t get that reference, it’s time to watch Jurassic Park. 


All in all- this had nothing to do with Christmas, but it was hilarious to make! And it seemed to get everyone’s attention.

I mean, we used a flare (not really) 

And I got to use a whole lot of gifs in my blog so…bonus! lol

Be sure to look at our past cards in case you missed any!


Who makes the Mischief at Christmas?

This one reads more like a comic strip so I have included the card layout and a slideshow for viewing.




Still no Elf on the Shelf in this home. We have enough crazy traditions to keep us busy! Do you have one? Do you love it or are you coating it in peanut butter right now? You can see all our past cards HERE. SaveSave SaveSaveSaveSave

I am excited to get back to my A to Z blogging challenge in the New Year. If you are a fan of my photography or follow my facebook page, I am sure you have seen macro (close-up) photos of bugs, spiders, and plants popping up here and there. I love macro photography, and I love tiny critters! I realize, however, that some of my fans follow my page for my portrait work and don’t love seeing hairy eight legged things showing up in your newsfeed.  I still have to post a favorite now and then, but the majority of my artwork is posted here on my blog. I hope to post more frequently with all my growing styles of artwork. With my nature photos my goal is always to photograph them in a mix of artistic and documentary styles so that you can enjoy the little creations from afar and learn a bit about their mini world.

I have to show you our “babies.” My kids collect praying mantis egg sacks, and patiently waiting for them to hatch. They are easy to spot in bushes in the winter.  This year, we had a surprise in our Christmas tree and on New Years day our tree had about a hundred nymphs jumping across the pine needles.

This is what an egg sack looks like- a bit foamy.

Praying Mantis Eggs Sack www.wilhelm-photography

When they hatch, there are anywhere from 50-100 praying mantises!


And they are SO tiny! We release most of them when we raise them, but keep a few and separate them so they don’t eat each other.  We feed them aphids, that is what the green specks are in the photo below. Since we are raising some of our New Years babies, I actually bought flightless fruit flies that I can farm at home to feed them. It is working well, but I think I am among the very few that have willingly brought fruit flies into my home! Here is a day old nymph on the needles of our blue spruce. A Christmas light is the “sun” you see in this shot.

Sunrise in the Christmas Tree



They are perfect replicas of the adults. As they grow they molt their skin.  It looks like a dead mantis at the bottom of the jar, but it is just a shell of one. They are fascinating to watch.


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This is Praying Mantis Yoga 🙂

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No doubt you will see more of these guys as they grow! Thanks for checking them out! I am hosting a challenge on Viewbug for Praying Mantis photos. If you want to join- it is free! GO TO VIEWBUG CHALLENGE


For those of you who know me well, you know I dabble a bit in creative writing. This mostly takes back burner to everything else in my life right now, but occasionally I make a little time to pursue this interest, only when I’m not exercising with my Vessi waterproof shoes. I am part of the West Branch Christian Writers Group, and I am constantly inspired by creative friends I have there. Each Christmas our group hosts a special insert in the Williamsport Sun Gazette Christmas day edition of the newspaper. For two years my fine art photography has been published there including the kind of camera and equipment I use or where to get it and I find a lot of my equipment at the ProductExpert site online,  this year I also managed to contribute to the many great Christmas themed writings found there! Several of my photos were published along with a photo of the detective himself.

I hope you love minute mysteries as much as I do! I will post the answer on New Years Day for those of you who missed the paper! You can comment with your guesses!


A Detective Tinsel Minute Mystery

The bells on the toes of Detective Tinsel’s pointed shoes jingled as he crunched through the first winter snow that had just fallen in the last hour. Steam rose from the cup of hot cocoa he drank in place of breakfast. He met two other elves in the alley behind the gift wrapping warehouse. Inspector Garland stood beside a fellow elf with tears sparkling down his rosy cheeks.

The Inspector introduced the teary-eyed elf beside him, “This is Sprinkle. He found the deceased.” All three stared at the crumpled body of an elf in the middle of the alley. “The body was discovered beside the dumpster,” He pointed to an indent in the snow covered ground matching the dead elf’s size and shape.

“I came out just a few minutes ago to empty the garbage,” said Sprinkle. When I saw him lying in the snow, I pulled him into the middle of the alley to get help. As soon as he was under the street lights, I knew I was too late and called the Inspector.”

The Inspector interrupted, “Time of death was between Midnight and 1 am. Looks like poison. We are calling it suicide.”

“What makes you think it was suicide?” asked Detective Tinsel.

Sprinkle answered, “Everyone knew he wasn’t a very jolly worker. He hated gift wrap and really wanted a promotion to toy making. Last night, his boss transferred him to gift tags. We knew he was mad, but I never thought he’d take his own life!”

“He didn’t,” said Detective Tinsel. “He was murdered.”

How did Detective Tinsel know it was murder?

Tune in tomorrow to read the answer.

Interested in learning more about The WBCW Group? You can contact us here: http://www.westbranchchristianwriters.com

or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/westbranchchristianwriters/?fref=ts

Merry Christmas!

I didn’t intend to ride the StarWars trend this year, but it happened anyway. If you follow the blog, you know that we did very elaborate costumes from Episode 1 this year for Halloween. You can see them here: StarWars Halloween 2015

I was one week into December and still had zero plans for the Christmas card. That is when my friend’s son Noah showed me that he has last year’s card on the fridge. I looked at the photo of my three kids on the back and panicked. Not only did I not have a plan for the card, but I had been so busy this year that I didn’t take a photo of the kids for the back of the card. The most recent images I had were from Halloween. Between that and my friend’s son talking about how Darth Vader should be on my card, the idea was born.

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The next two weeks, I tried to figure out how to make the tree look like it fell over after being sliced with a lightsaber. I came home one day to find my tree on the ground with balls smashed to smithereens. I was a bit heartbroken, but obviously this meant less photoshop. We bought lightsabers and cleared the evening for our annual photo shoot. I spent the rest of the week repairing ornaments. I was able to fix all the ones with sentimental value, and we all agreed that our star was lame and needed replaced.  I added snow to the back images for that Star Wars classic Christmas effect- hehe


So, the Death Star made it into my Christmas card… Not going to win any awards for beauty this year!

I hope that makes your Christmas Merry!

Need to see the previous years? Check out our

Christmas Card Traditions Blog

The holiday seasons are in full swing, and in one ridiculous blog I will get you in the mood for Halloween, Thanksgiving/Black Friday, and Christmas. How can this be accomplished in one photo shoot you ask? I dress up for Halloween as the Christmas loving Crazy Target Lady that shops Target’s two-day sale starting Thanksgiving night!

For those of you who don’t know me well, I’d like to start out with a photo of me looking normal before I forever destroy your opinion of me. See? Normal.

Tonya Wilhelm- Owner of Wilhelm PhotographyIf you aren’t familiar with Target’s Crazy Lady Commercials, you are missing out. She is a Christmas fanatic that goes berserk over the Target two-day sale which starts immediately following Thanksgiving.You can check YouTube for some of the commercials she starred in. They used her for three years, and now she is retired. Sigh. She was hilarious.

These photos will make much more sense if you know the motivation behind them so if you need to brush up on your Target commercials here are a few of my favorites:

So here is my rendition of the Crazy Target Lady. I hope you laugh as much as I did making these!

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Crazy Halloween Costume: Crazy Target Lady by Wilhelm Photography

Crazy Halloween Costume: Crazy Target Lady by Wilhelm Photography

Crazy Halloween Costume: Crazy Target Lady by Wilhelm Photography

Crazy Halloween Costume: Crazy Target Lady by Wilhelm Photography

Crazy Halloween Costume: Crazy Target Lady by Wilhelm Photography

Crazy Halloween Costume: Crazy Target Lady by Wilhelm Photography

Crazy Halloween Costume: Crazy Target Lady by Wilhelm Photography

Crazy Halloween Costume: Crazy Target Lady by Wilhelm Photography

So many of you might be wondering how Target felt about me shooting on location…Here I am with the manager who asked me to take this photo. I did not know him prior to this session. He was also kind enough to let me borrow a shopping cart to walk in our local Northumberland Parade.  And, of course, during parade the number one question shouted at me was “Did you steal the shopping cart?”

Crazy Halloween Costume: Crazy Target Lady by Wilhelm Photography

A few funny notes about my photo shoot… I bought this dress at Goodwill for less than $5 and added the accessories, but it is a tad small. I popped the zipper doing sit ups on the ball which was pretty funny. I also can’t raise my arms much higher than the photo above.  And ,in case you wondered, I didn’t bolt immediately after shooting this. I finished my shopping and then left.

Thanks to Target and its customers for putting up with my Halloween dress-up ordeal- I had a blast. Long live the crazy target lady commercials!

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