SALISBURY — For Brianna Mitschele, taking photos at an elegant wedding isn’t as different from putting out a raging fire as one might think.
“That’s why I really like shooting weddings, because not one wedding is the same,” Mitschele said. “Every one is different. It’s kind of like a fire. Every fire was different.”
Mitschele would know — she’s done both.
A former firefighter with the Salisbury Fire Department, Mitschele has launched a second career as the one-woman show behind Flashpoint Photography. After working out of her Denton home for several years, she’s currently preparing to open a studio at 119 W. Innes St., the former home of Priscillia Clark Interior Design.
Mitschele’s studio will be located less than a half mile from where she worked for three years at Fire Station No. 1.
“I really fell in love with the downtown area,” Mitschele said. “I knew I wanted a studio here.”
Mitschele, born in New Jersey but raised in the Mooresville area, got her start in photography when her parents surprised her with a Canon Rebel camera as a Christmas present over a decade ago.
“It was really unexpected and it was a great gift,” Mitschele said. “I guess it worked out well in the long run.”
At the same time Mitschele was learning the ropes of photography, she was also being taught how to extinguish blazes, maintain fire fighting equipment and respond to medical emergencies.
“I had a lot of friends in high school who were firefighters, and I wanted to hang out with them, so I started going to the fire department and doing the training with them,” Mitschele said. “My parents weren’t too fond of their little girl being a firefighter.”
While attending Campbell University, a private college located halfway between Raleigh and Fayetteville, Mitschele joined the Buies Creek Fire Department. She soon found herself spending as much time fighting fires as studying.
“I decided I liked running calls more than going to class,” Mitschele said.
Mitschele left college in 2014, moved closer to home and joined the Salisbury Fire Department. As she began her professional firefighting career, Mitschele also launched Flashpoint Photography as a side business.
The company’s name is actually a subtle reference to what starts many of the fires she’s put out. A flashpoint is essentially at which a compound will ignite into flames. It’s also defined as the moment when something bursts suddenly into action, like the rapid click of a camera.
“I just wanted to keep it all together, because I really loved that part of my life,” Mitschele said.
Mitschele left the Salisbury Fire Department in 2017 to pursue her photography career full time. En route to earning an associate’s degree in digital photography from the Charlotte Art Institute, Mitschele was awarded best portfolio overall and best portfolio digital photography in her class.
Mitschele has since made a name for herself as a wedding photographer who not only takes good pictures, but has a good time doing it.
“I really enjoy my job and I have a lot of fun with it,” Mitschele said. “You can ask all of my brides. We have a lot of fun and I shoot a lot more for candid moments.”
Even after going full time, Mitschele operated Flashpoint Photography from her home studio in Denton. She’d been planning a move to downtown Salisbury for years, but the right opportunity didn’t present itself until the space at 119 W. Innes St. came available late last year.
“I needed something more central because I have clients from everywhere — Lexington, Mooresville, Harrisburg, Salisbury, of course,” Mitschele said. “I’ve been trying to get a downtown location for three years. I loved the look of Priscilla’s and it matched the look I wanted for a downtown location.”
Before signing on the dotted line and officially leasing the space from Lane Yates Realty, Mitschele got an extra motivational push from other female downtown shop owners.
“Salisbury is majority women-owned business and I was talking to a bunch of them and I was like, ‘If all these ladies can do it, why not me?” Mitschele said. “I messaged a bunch of them before I moved in, like Oxford and Lee, the Hive and they were the most welcoming people I’ve met in my life.”
Mitschele has already shot many of her favorite photos in downtown Salisbury, including a picture of seven pregnant firefighters’ wives that went viral in 2019. The photos of the simultaneously expecting wives were shot at the same station where Mitschele worked. The pictures, featured in The Salisbury Post, landed her interview opportunities with journalists from as far away as the United Kingdom and Australia.
“It definitely got my name out there,” Mitschele said. “It was cool to connect with all these reports. It was even on Good Morning America.”
Mistchele will look to capture more viral moments at her downtown studio, which she hopes to open sometime in July. She’s filled the front window with colorful balloons and writing announcing her arrival, but there’s still painting and other work needed to be done inside.
Once it’s complete, the studio will have a sitting area for consultations, a place to shoot portraits, passports and “mini-sessions,” and a small retail space where Mitschele will sell work shot by other local photographers.