I am a wedding & elopement photographer who mainly focuses on elopements and adventurous engagement photoshoots. Some unique aspects of my business are that I offer astrophotography, shoot with both film and digital, and I’m a wilderness first responder for my adventure clients’ peace of mind.
I absolutely LOVE backpacking & hiking. My first night on the Appalachian Trail was only my 3rd ever backpacking trip & after hiking about 1500 miles of it, I knew I had to find a way to combine my love for photography & hiking. Adventure elopements just happen to be that! Besides that, I love cooking new recipes & baking, gardening & canning/preserving my harvests, traveling whenever and wherever I can, and taking care of my two adorable pups.
Serving Northern NC, Western NC, and Southern NC
I always thought my first time picking up a camera was when my grandma bought one for me when she took me to Germany when I was 9, but I found a photo of me as a toddler holding a toy camera, so I guess that it was just meant to be! Also, my great-grandpa was an amateur photographer, so it’s in my genes! I discovered my love for film photography in high school, and when my parents told me I had to go to college, I chose to major in photography.
Then, when I hiked the Appalachian Trail, I was given the trail name “Shutterbug” because I carried a 5lb camera. After the trail, I moved to Asheville to be closer to the mountains and discovered that adventure elopements were a thing. I knew I just had to be a part of the industry since it combines my love for photography & hiking. My partner & I met while hiking the Appalachian Trail and we fell in love in these mountains, so it’s so fun to see the same mountains become such an important part of my couples’ lives, as well.
As an elopement and couples photographer, I focus on the experience my couples have on their big day. Instead of doing things for the photos, I encourage couples to live in the moment and let me be a fly on the wall. I spend the time to get to know my couples so that on their big day, I’m not just a stranger with a camera and they can feel comfortable being themselves. That way, their photos reflect their true personalities. My style is very documentary and candid, but for some moments during the portrait session, I do give prompts and will direct couples on what to do. My editing style is true to color, warm, and inspired by 35mm film. I also shoot both digital & film for elopements and sessions.
My favorite part about being an elopement photographer is getting to be a part of my couples’ most exciting days of their lives. I’ve been doing this for 3 years now & I still get just as excited every single time I get home and start editing! Sometimes I have to stop myself from staying up all night to edit because I’m that excited to see how the photos came out. Helping my couples plan their elopements is equally as fun, which is great since the planning usually falls on the photographer if a couple doesn’t hire an elopement planner. I have a 60+ page guide to help with planning, fun activity ideas, vendor recommendations & so much more that I give every one of my elopement couples. And I love helping find the perfect location for each couple’s needs.
A: Kirsten Fraude. Owner, Photographer/Elopement Planner
Q: What’s a fun fact about yourself?
A: I’ve hiked the majority of the Appalachian Trail.
Q: What is your favorite thing about elopements?
A: My favorite thing about elopements is that couples get to make the day all about them. If things don’t go to plan on the elopement day, it’s so easy to pivot and do something else equally as exciting. I would describe an elopement as a day where you vow to forever in front of only your closest friends & family or even just the two of you. Elopements place the focus back onto the couple instead of your wedding day being a production to entertain everyone else.
Q: Is there a wedding detail on your bucket list?
A: I would absolutely LOVE to photograph a helicopter elopement over some epic mountains.
Q: Tell us about your favorite elopement!
A: One of my favorite elopements I ever photographed was my cousin’s on top of Black Balsam. When we got there it was pouring rain. We sat in the car with their officiant and sipped bourbon & hot chocolate while we watched the radar and waited for a break in the rain. It finally stopped and they had their first look at the top of the mountain. The clouds mostly cleared just in time for the ceremony and then they had their first dance & a champagne toast. The slight cloud coverage created the most beautiful soft lighting for portraits and we ended the evening with some delicious desserts in the parking lot. Nothing went to plan this day, but it was still so perfect.
“Kirsten was absolutely amazing to work with! While visiting the States on our honeymoon, we arranged to have photos taken to commemorate our elopement, and Kirsten took our vision and ran with it! Kirsten made the entire experience so easy for us – from helping us plan and pick a venue, to bringing her pop-up tent for a wardrobe change at the top of the mountain.
Kirsten went above and beyond. The photos themselves are more beautiful than we could have hoped for, and we are so grateful. Could not recommend Kirsten enough!”