10 Questions with Michelle Hartman

WeddingRule Interviewed one of the most popular and sought-after wedding photographers in North Carolina, Michelle Elyse Photography. Raleigh based Michelle Hartman is the founder and owner of Michelle Elyse Photography.

Michelle Elyse Photography

Photographer - Michelle Hartman

10 Questions with Michelle Hartman

1. Introduction: What's your story?

Hi there- Michelle here!

I have been a wedding photographer for over 10 years now, and I love it for SO many reasons! I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to travel all over the world for this career, photographing in Iceland, Greenland, Puerto Rico, and across the United States- frequenting spots in the Midwest and the PNW. I’ve been able to sign as a witness to the most intimate elopements, photographed big, luxurious weddings filled with exquisite flowers and candles, and have been featured in various magazines and websites.

These things are all very fun and incredible, however, the REAL reason I love being a wedding photographer is to be able to CELEBRATE all the LOVE and JOY that my couples have been blessed with. For me, this is what it’s all about. It’s about families getting together, epic dance moves, the happy tears of gratefulness for the people you love, the wide-grinning glances with your beloved, and the sweet, quiet kisses when you two are alone.

These moments are more important than any posed photograph, and these are the things I aim to capture. Just natural moments and natural beauty. I want you to look back at your wedding album with your kids and grandkids and instantly remember all the FEELINGS- the anticipation, the joy, the beauty, even the way the breeze felt in your hair that day, and the way the warm sun felt on your skin. Because enjoying this day is what it’s all about. I want you to be able to do that over and over again through your photographs.

2. How long have you been shooting weddings? How many weddings have you photographed?

I started photographing weddings in 2010 and I have probably photographed over 200 weddings since then.

3. How would you describe your photography style?

I like my photographs to feel natural and elegant. I get a mix of candids and editorial (i.e naturally "posed") shots.
In terms of editing, I prefer softer colors and moodier tones.
I love finding natural areas to photograph in and beautiful little pockets of light to highlight my couple. I really love all the fun girly stuff, so I have a lot of fun incorporating fashion, flowers, and details into my shots as well.

4. How well in advance should couples book their wedding photographer?

Most people book their wedding about a year or year and a half in advance. Elopements are usually less as they are normally on weekdays. Those might book 3-6 months in advance.

5. What are the different packages that you offer and which one is your most popular package?

I offer several different packages based on the sort of coverage people need- whether wedding or elopement- with a variety of hours. Some packages include an engagement session or wedding album. All packages are popular, but it just depends on what the couple needs for that day.

6. Are you the wedding photographer who will be shooting on the wedding day? Who else is there in your team?

Yes, I photograph all the weddings for Michelle Elyse Photography. I find I often enjoy working alone the most, so for most weddings less than 125-150 people, I do not normally recommend a second photographer. However, for larger weddings closer to 200+ guests, I do suggest that since there are so many more people (and usually more space) to cover. I own another company called Hartman Outdoor Photography where I have a couple of Associate Photographers who work for me. Usually, I will ask one of them to assist me if they are available as my second photographer.

7. Do you charge a travel fee? For what distance? What does that cover?

I travel for about half of my weddings each year- both across the US and Internationally. I only charge a travel fee to cover the actual costs of any airfare, car rental or hotel stay if needed. Usually, I just add this into the final package price and book my own travel so that my couples don't have to worry about it. Usually the peace of mind of hiring someone local that you know you can meet beforehand is reassuring to my destination couples. The travel is also usually more affordable than couples expect.

8. Are albums or prints included in your packages?

My highest package does include a large print credit that can be used to order a wedding album, or several canvas gallery wraps or standard prints. The printing rights are included in all of my packages, so people can print wherever they like. I do offer the option to order prints through the couple's online gallery however, just to give an option that would be accurately color calibrated for the correct tones.

9. How long after the wedding will the couple receive the images? How will they be delivered?

I aim to deliver all my wedding galleries within 12 weeks. Usually its much earlier than that, but during the busy season, I need that extra leeway time just in case.
I deliver all my edited images in a password protected online gallery. Here, couples- or whoever they have shared their login with- can download the images for personal use or make prints.

10. What is your cancellation and/or refund policy?

Upon booking, there is a non-refundable retainer of 50%. This is done to hold the couple's date and forego any other bookings for that day. The remaining balance isn't due until 30 days before the wedding date.

Gallery

Awards

WeddingRule Editor’s Choice 2020