The Scoop: Michael Freas shoots documentary-style photos and portraits for wedding couples. He works with clients to learn more about them, so he can capture genuine moments and reactions on their special day. We spoke with Michael about his approach to wedding photography, planning advice for engaged couples, and what makes a great photographer. He also told us about the importance of photography for the wedding day.

Photo albums serve as time capsules for our most precious memories. Physical photo albums were still very much a thing when I was growing up. Each of my siblings had their own. My album had everything, from birthday parties to my first trip to Disney.

Today, my album lives in a special ottoman at my mom’s house, ready to be opened whenever I feel like taking a trip down memory lane. These pictures and candid shots still have the power to tell me the story of moments I would have forgotten without them.

Most people celebrate milestones throughout their lives. Although these events are important, memories of them can still come up hazy. Pictures help trigger these fond moments with feelings of authenticity. And that’s what Michael Freas provides for couples.

The wedding day is one of the most special days of a couple’s lives. And they should want to document it with style and authenticity. Michael Freas places couples front and center with documentary-style photos and portraits of couples. His approach to wedding photography focuses on capturing people in real moments. 

“The couples I work with are people who want a photographer that captures the moment as opposed to orchestrated and planned photo shoots because these photos aren’t for social media. They’re for the couple. So the photos are supposed to be unique to that couple,” said Michael. 

Michael Freas is based in Asheville, North Carolina, but he has worked and traveled around the US for his clients. His wedding photography work has been featured in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and The Knot.

Focused on the Real Moments 

Michael started his career in photojournalism before moving into private shoots. His journalistic background has helped him create his distinct style that puts people at the center of everything he does. Instead of orchestrating shoots, he captures couples in their natural element. 

“My style is creative documentary-style wedding photography that emphasizes real moments and is complemented by bold portraits,” said Michael. 

bride and groom with festive umbrellas
Michael captures genuine moments shared between couples.

Michael told us photographers often miss genuine moments by taking planned photoshoots of the bride and groom. They lean on posing and recreating crucial moments, which are artificial representations. Recreation doesn’t capture the same essence of the moment happening in real time. Michael steers clear of this approach and sets his lens on the candid, in-between moments.

“My couples are looking for genuine documentation of their day. They want portraits that have meaning versus just shooting everything for the gram,” said Michael. 

Couples who want to see their meaningful moments translated into pictures can count on Michael to provide this exact product. His entire focus is to ensure every couple’s magical day is adequately documented, so they can enjoy their photos for years to come. 

Transforming Milestones Into Lifelong Memories

Michael wants to showcase couples’ stories through his work, and he does that by getting to know his clients. The best storytelling requires understanding your characters. In this case, Michael’s clients are the ones on stage. 

“It’s not about pretty photos. Anybody can take a pretty photo. I can do that with my cellphone. But having an image that’s unique to you, looks like you, feels like you, shows you off, you have to know that person,” said Michael.  

Michael fosters a relationship with his clients to better display them as their true selves. That’s why he holds consultations and works to get to know his couples. So much so that he often stays on as their photographer to document more precious milestones in their lives. 

bride and groom sharing a special moment
Michael documents the wedding day with a focus on authenticity.

“I’ve created these relationships because what happens is the people I’ve become the closest with I’ve shot all photos for them, even before they had kids. Now I’m shooting their family photos with their kids. I’m going on vacation with them to document their vacations because we have a relationship,” said Michael. 

Michael told us before booking a gig, he wants to make sure he and his clients are a good fit. He doesn’t accept everyone but partners with people who want a meaningful experience. This way, he can do his best work. He can take shots that reveal who the couples are and catch elements other photographers may not see. 

Capturing the true intimacy of the day allows couples to look back and cherish those authentic moments. Michael hopes to see his clients enjoy his work several years down the line. “A lot of people don’t print their work out anymore. If you are hiring me and not going to print your work, I’m not your photographer. I hope to see your pictures on the wall when we have a FaceTime for your birthday,” said Michael.

The Importance of a Great Photographer

Michael advised engaged couples to look for the right photographer for their wedding. He said couples shouldn’t play the numbers game and should wait to make a budget until after they select a photographer. The criteria for choosing a photographer should go beyond price considerations and should instead focus on value. 

A photograph of Michael Freas
Michael Freas has photographed over 550 happy couples.

“People want to see the price versus speaking to a photographer and letting that photographer show you their value,” said Michael.

A great photographer will help you memorialize the true essence of your wedding. Without a trained photographer, you won’t be able to properly visualize or share those memories with loved ones down the line. That’s why spending a little more can make a difference in the finished product. 

“Do your due diligence. Take your time. Interview photographers. Don’t set a budget for your entire wedding until you start talking to your photographer. Your photographer is the most important vendor that’s going to be at the wedding,” said Michael. 

Michael also has an advice column on his website for couples in the planning process. He said couples shouldn’t look to social media for help but seek professional input. And his free info series can be a great resource to help couples assess value. Couples can check out his blog “9 Questions to Always Ask A Photographer You Want to Book” here to get started. 

“I’ve curated a lot of these posts. It’s called the Wedding Wisdom Series: Tips for Booking a Photographer. It tells where to start, what to do for homework, how to figure out different styles, how to compare prices before making a budget, scheduling a meeting to speak with the photographer face to face, and more,” said Michael.