GTPulse – Harpe Star Captures Northern Michigan Creatively and Beautifully: ‘We’re in a bohemian renaissance’

There is no shortage of fun and beauty in Northern Michigan, and when two theatre kids meet through photography, they bring their unique style and eye with them. Micah Mabey and Kristen Stewart are the duo that makes up new photography and design company Harpe Star, and their photography makes everything feel pretty and dreamy. 

Business partners and friends, Kristen and Micah met while working on theatrical production Tommy last year at Old Town Playhouse. 

“It really started when I went to go see Little Prince.I had just moved back here from Chicago and I felt blah, so I went to go see some theatre. At the time it was the only thing that was making me happy. At one point they pulled me on to the stage and I met her on that stage,” Micah said.

Kristen studied photography at Northern Michigan University and got her first professional opportunity in Traverse City when she was asked if she wanted to shoot photos for Up North Pride. She took an inclusivity photography workshop class that taught photographers how to pose people for pictures, how to set up a website and how to be sensitive to pronouns

“It was a good class that was open to everyone and all the Pride photographers went and took it. My first time meeting other photographers in the community, I was very nervous. I needed a buddy and so I asked Micah to come with me. I said, ‘I know this is maybe not your thing but just come with me.’ He brought a camera.”

The workshop ended up including a photo club walk where the group walked around and took photos. Kristen quickly noticed that Micah had an eye for photography.

“I said, ‘Oh, you know what you’re doing, come be my assistant for all my Pride stuff.’ After the Pride parade and concert and stuff we thought, this works. What if we do this?”

Kristen grew up in Manistee where her family owned a  camera shop. She’s been around cameras and photography her entire life, and becoming a photographer was something that came naturally to her. Micah is from Traverse City and is currently a student at Northwestern Michigan College where he is studying to become a journalist. The pair work well together, and their strengths balance each other out.

“I tend to be a little bit more on the shyer side, especially since I’ve been doing it forever I tend to sometimes have lower confidence about what I do because I’ve always been doing it. So I tend to be like, ‘am I good enough?’” Kristen said and looked at Micah. “You are super friendly and better at networking.”

This introvert and extrovert dynamic between the two benefits their working relationship well. Kristen excels on the business side of things, and Micah shines at running social media. There are also instances where Micah will cover an event and Kristen will edit and process the photos taken.

The two have a similar eye and it’s indistinguishable which one of them shot which photo. Their current projects include shooting for  Old Town Playhouse, Mash-Up Rock & Roll, The Boardman Review, Here:Say and others. They don’t want to limit themselves to weddings or events only, and Harpe Star is open to taking on many different kinds of projects. 

“We’re in a bohemian renaissance!” Micah said grinning. “With what the Loud brothers are doing, with what Michael Kent is doing, Parallel 45, Practical Films…everyone is putting together these really cool projects. People are doing things, which wasn’t the case four years ago.”

Harpe Star is happy to be contributing to the local creative community. Not only do they do photography, but they also do graphic design work.

“We do logos too. I have a lot of graphic design in my background,” Kristen said.

They’re in love with the work they’re doing now and hope that Harpe Star will continue to grow. They opened their LLC in August of this year and hope that the next big step for them is acquiring studio space. Kristen is interested in doing more travel photography and Micah would like to shoot more bands. They both would like to do more creatively styled, studio work.

Both Micah and Kristen are excited to be apart of Northern Michigan’s artistic culture, as photographers and as peers.

“Everyone just wants to help each other and there’s no reason to step on toes so we don’t,” Micah said.

There’s plenty of room for Harpe Star to grow. If you want to see Northern Michigan through a dreamy, youthful and real lens check them out and see the magic for yourself.

Categories: GTPulse