Hi Chellise and Michael! Tell us a bit about yourselves and your journey to becoming an anti-cliche wedding photo and video collective at Chellise Michael Photography.
In 2008, Mike and I had just started dating – he was and is still a musician.
I was an aesthetician/waitress but photography was something I was obsessively getting into, portraiture specifically. So I started telling everyone that I was a Photographer even though I barely knew how to operate the thing cause that’s what you do, right? So I would ask anyone with a face to let me photograph them for free and they all said yes. This was my training and I learned so much about myself as a photographer from it.
During this time, Mike and I had just started dating and just for fun, started taking lots of photos of miniatures together. Think 25 cent machine Lil’ Homies battling dead lizards that we would find in parking lots in Arizona after drinking lots of Jagermeister. We were creating scenes that were gross, hilarious, poetic, and ridiculous.
At this time, unknown to us, this was our first endeavor in photography as a duo. We bounced so many ideas off of one another, got really creative together, and we were falling in love too. (aaaww!) We also noticed how hilarious of a time we had while working together. Mike continued with his focus on music while I pursued photography.
During this time I was (and still am) highly annoyed with photographers portraying people to be someone they are not.
I was not interested in the idea of perfection. I wanted to find the soft spots in people, to get to know them as much as I could, then take their picture. I wanted them to feel that there was a collaboration between both of us and that I captured them for who they were at that time of their lives. And I still feel this way.
After a few portrait sessions, I realized that I had the ability to make a complete stranger feel at ease in front of my camera. Freaking Magic Sauce. Realizing this was huge. I recognized that this was a gift and ran like Hell with it. I never felt so ambitious for something as I did then. I finally found “that thing” that I loved and knew I could make a career at it if I had some patience and tried my best.
Soon after, Mike’s band grew up into a record label and they became a subsidiary of Epic Records. Since Epic was in NYC one of the guys, let’s say his name is Ben, moved to spearhead it. Then one morning, he calls Mike while we were just waking up and said: “You need to get your ass outta Phoenix – you belong in New York”. (Ben is also very convincing..) Mike rolls over to me, smiles, and says “Wanna move to New York?” Without hesitation, I said: “Yeah! Let’s go!” Apparently, we were both ready and didn’t even know it until someone pushed us to go. (Thanks Ben!)
This content was originally published here.