Interview with North Carolina Photographer, Michael Freas

Interview with North Carolina Photographer, Michael Freas

It is always a thrill for us to show-off the work of our members and to give you a glimpse into their artistic lives. Today we’re sharing our interview of Michael Freas. His dynamic style has a fun and colorful energy to it and his work is spontaneous and authentic, making him one of the few photographers we recommend in North Carolina and Florida. 

Hi Michael, thanks for taking the time to chat. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you started in photography?

I’m North Carolina born and bred. I grew up just outside of Asheville driving boats with my granddaddy, fishing, playing soccer and loving the outdoors. I’ve spent the last 15 years living and traveling all over Florida and shooting weddings in both places and at destinations around the world.  I started my career in photography, shooting snapshots of tourists and real estate, and I quickly realized what I didn’t know about the art form. So, I dove right into teaching myself and 6 months later I was published in a major architectural magazine. Around that same time I started second shooting for a wedding photographer. To be honest I was disturbed by the way she saw her clients. She didn’t meet them beforehand and wasn’t really interested in their story, which was pivotal to me, so I branched out on my own. 

Bride and groom kiss against confetti and blue sky by Michael Freas - North Carolina
Photographed by Michael Freas - North Carolina

When did you first realize you had fallen in love with wedding photography? 

When I started seeing the way my clients and others appreciated my work and how important it is to them. It was the first time in 36 years of my life that I felt truly seen, and it was happening through seeing others. My mom died when I was 19, which caused me to see the importance of family in a whole new way. The opportunity to capture moments between people who mean so much to each other drives me to work hard and get the shots that will important to future generations.

What inspires you most about the wedding day? 

I am inspired by the differences in every couple, their story, and the friends and family that surround them. I love to encourage people to be themselves, and not follow along with what others have done at their weddings. Couples often feel so obligated to be perfect and worry about what might be said about their choices. Instead, I tell them to embrace being unique and enjoy being a bit selfish if necessary. After all it is their day.

Most couples hire me for the whole weekend, because once they get to know me they know I will fit right in and be able to capture important moments from their whole experience, not just the wedding day. 

Groom tears up during ceremony, by Michael Freas - North Carolina
Photographed by Michael Freas - North Carolina

If your next destination wedding was anywhere of your choosing, where would you go and why?

That’s a hard one to answer. I have a goal of shooting in all 50 U.S. states but if I had to choose just one place I would say the Amalfi Coast. I was there shooting a wedding in October of 2019 and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The people were amazing and within days they were treating me like family! The cities of Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano, Ravello, are all stunning and I love the Grand Excelsior Hotel and the Villa Cimbrone. They both are awesome venues with beautiful options for ceremonies and receptions. 

I am also drawn to places with history and extraordinary architecture. I know how to build houses and have a great interest in design, so anywhere that the angles are interesting and the story behind the places is noteworthy is a place I want to shoot.

Bride and Groom at sunset under clock tower - photo by Michael Freas
Photographed by Michael Freas - North Carolina

What is your creative process when looking through a camera?

I focus on light, composition, and emotion with a special emphasis on storytelling. I believe that a good photo can only get better if there is meaning behind it. That is one of the reasons why I get to know the people I work with. 

I also love history and extraordinary architecture. I know how to build and have a great interest in design, so anywhere that the angles are interesting and the story behind the place is noteworthy inspires me.

For me it is all about letting things unfold and not assuming that I have it all figured out immediately. The most surprising thing I have taken from a career in photography is that it’s ok to make mistakes as long as you’re getting all the shots you need. Sometimes taking a risk really pays off. 

What makes couples choose you for their wedding photographer?

My clients are diverse and pretty savvy about photography, and they appreciate my documentary style. I think they consider me for the style of my work and choose me once we connect because they can tell I truly care about them, their story, and their relationships. A photographer spends the entire day with the couple and they have to fit in for the photos to be real and natural.

Wedding reception dance party - Michael Freas - North Carolina
Photographed by Michael Freas - North Carolina

Can you share two of your favorite photographers, pianters, musicians or other artists that are not in the industry and tell us why they inspire you.

Italian Street Photographer David Bergamini.  His compositions and light are insane! The other would have to be my friend Chef John.  Amazing flavors and his plates are artwork.

Other than photography, what do you love to do?

Nature always calls to me. I like to watch the dynamic range of sunlight throughout the day and how it acts on surfaces and subjects. I love to hike, boat, and fish, and I am always up for adventure. If a couple tells me they want to hike miles up to a mountaintop for their ceremony, or get married on the beach and go surfing, I always am down for it. 

Couple portrait taken just before sunset - Photo by Michael Freas
Photographed by Michael Freas - North Carolina

How do you prepare for a big wedding?

I travel light and pack efficiently. I generally take a 35, 85, 58, 20 and one flash. I also like to arrive two days before the event so I can scout, check the lighting, and prepare myself to be fully present for the wedding day.

What advice would you give to couples planning a wedding?

It’s your day, not anybody else’s. Stay flexible, and have fun. Anything is possible, so stay curious and in the moment.

Check out more of Michael's work on his WBWP profile!