Our story

we're Photographers & videographers... we tell stories visually.

Bella Lumiere Photography is a woman-owned business started in 2012 by Riley-Payton. "When my daughter was younger, we spent a lot of time together. One of our favorite things to do was something we called 'SNAP-AND-CHAT'. We both owned professional grade cameras, so we would spend most of our free time photographing various things. Some weekends, we would pick a specific technique to study, learn, and then practice. We had a lot of fun and became the best of friends!" 

"It makes me smile to think back about how the business began. I guess you could say it accidently happened.... We loved our 'snap-and-chat' time and enjoyed sharing our work. Before we knew it, encouragement to turn our hobby into a business began to flood in. And that's how it all began!!"

On December 20, 2016, Matthew and Riley-Payton blended their two families into one through a small, intimate wedding ceremony in the beautiful North Carolina mountains. Both Matthew, and Riley-Payton chose to close their side businesses and focus on helping each child acclimate to the new family setting and dynamic. "We have a spread of ages between the 4 kids: Vicky is 25, Dallen is 25, Tanis is 19, and Reese is 16. When we were first married, we struggled to find something that everyone could agree on to do together. Matthew and I knew that for everyone to be close, we needed to spend time together bonding. So... the good 'ole 'snap-and-chat' came to the rescue! We purchased everyone their own DSLR camera and I began to teach everyone my love of photography. To our delight, the kids took to it! Vicky and Tanis love landscapes. Reese and Matthew love macro. Dallen loves to shoot video and me? I love to shoot people! Weddings are my passion!"

Even though the photography business was closed, Riley-Payton's love for photography and photographing life's most precious moments never left. If anything, it grew and had even rubbed off on Matthew. So, in July of 2019, Matthew helped Riley-Payton re-open the photography business. "This business is my dream; it's my passion! It's what I love and think about all the time.... I am constantly studying, researching, learning, and growing as a photographer and business owner." I am a visual storyteller. I create images that capture moments in time, full of emotion, beauty, and candor. And then, I skillfully hand-design heirloom quality albums and wall art using those images to tell a client's story now and for years to come!"

Today, Bella Lumiere Photography is a husband and wife team focused on preserving memories and telling stories through wedding and portrait photography. "Both Matthew and I have complimentary approaches to a wedding day. Because we are married, we are very comfortable working together. We both naturally sense where the other person is standing and anticipate what their next move will be. This gives us a unique advantage over other photographers who hire a different second shooter every time they pick up the camera. We don’t get in the way and prevent the other person for getting ‘their shot’. We both have unique jobs when we are photographing together, but at a moment's notice, we know that we could step into the other's role and carry on without missing a beat. This seamless approach to photographing weddings and portraits allows us to provide our clients a better experience overall, confidence to know that no shots will be missed, and more finished images in the end. 

When I was 20 years old, I learned a very valuable lesson that would become the main reason why I am so passionate about wedding photography today.

I was planning a wedding much like you are.  Everything was falling into place... I'd found my dress, pulled together the details for the reception, chosen my bridesmaids, etc.  All I had left to do was find a photographer.  

I was elated to accept the offer from a friend of a friend to "gift" us the wedding photography that I needed.  It wasn't until after the wedding that I learned how unqualified she was to gift us the huge responsibility of wedding photography.  Not only did she miss most of the major moments, the moments that she did catch looked like I was having an out of body experience.  (Motion Blur)

I cannot express to you how disappointed and hurt I was that we didn't have photos from our wedding.  All the hard work, time planning, and money spent with no physical reminder for us to look back on.  As the days turned into weeks, then months, the disappointment and hurt worsened.  I cried... a lot.  The biggest day in our lives, and we had no photos from it.  Not one guest had a usable photo from their cheap point and shoot cameras. I literally had nothing to hang on my wall.


“cherish the moments - tomorrow they will be memories.”

Our why

“My wedding photographer choice is the reason why I am so passionate about your wedding photos!”

So, while all of my girlfriends were reliving their wedding day memories, showing off their wedding photos, and gushing over their gorgeous wedding albums, I was unfortunately having to explain that I didn't have any photos to share and why.  

Please! Please learn from my mistake!! After your wedding day is over, there will be nothing but the memories left and those will fade over time. The cake will be eaten; the flowers will die; all of the decor will be boxed up and your beautiful dress will be put back into its bag and hung in a closet never to be worn again.  Guests may be able to tell you stories about some of the parts of your wedding day that you didn't see because you were busy getting married, but it's not the same as "seeing" them in photos.  Photos tell your story visually.  What are you going to show your children when they want to see Mommy in her wedding dress? 

Choosing the right wedding photographer was a huge decision and I made a horrible choice.  Because of that one decision, wedding photography has become my passion!  I know what it feels like to not have beautiful wedding photos to look back on.  I do not what that to happen to others!  Every aspect of our wedding photography experience provides couples the very things that I missed out on: feeling confident and having fun with my fiance in front of the camera, ultimately creating beautiful wedding photos that will tell our personal love story for generations to come.

“Timeless, romantic, vibrant images that tell your personal love story.” 

It's more than just our tagline, it's at the center of everything that we do. From editing, to posing, to curating your online gallery and wedding album, this is "how" we create timeless, romantic, vibrant images that tell your personal love story.

Our photography style is more than an editing or photography technique. It’s a combination of every decision we make as photographers before, during, and after your wedding. Sure, we can photograph anything, but we chose wedding photography is our specialized "niche."

Our style is also defined through my editing and post-production process. As wedding photographers, we capture the light and composition well “in camera” but editing the raw image polishes and perfects the shot.

Our use of light and color available throughout your wedding determines the overall aesthetic of your images. For example, two photographers might both describe their style as “light and airy,” but one may edit lighter and brighter than the other. This is exactly where “light and bright” comes from in our style.

We love the classic, romantic touch that light and bright editing brings to our photos. We try to use as much natural light as possible to create beautiful shots, full of emotion and romance.

Even the world’s best photographers are going to have a hard time creating a light and bright feel in the dark. Whether it’s a lowly lit ballroom or an outdoor reception at night, they can only do so much with what they’re given. Because of this, it’s important to us to create a look as close to natural light as possible when there is a lack of light.

Our style

Our approach to wedding photography isn't just about clicking a button and hoping for the best. It’s about making a connection with our couples and planning. We want to get to know you both. I will take time with you to talk about the photos you want, any nerves you or your fiancé may have about being photographed, and your goals for your wedding photography purchase. From there, I will personally build a timeline for your wedding day around the photos that you want.

At your engagement session, I will give you directions for fun movements/actions that end in a pose that will showcase your personality and chemistry as a couple. Through my actionable poses, you will learn what works or you as a couple and what doesn’t. Knowing this information will be invaluable on your wedding day since we want to get you to the party as quickly as possible. So, feel free to ask questions and plan for lots of laughter and getting to know each other as we produce beautiful images that you can use for your save the dates and invitations.

On your wedding day, Matthew and I will be with you more than your friends, more than your Momma, and yes, even more than your maid/matron of honor. Our goal will be to peel away any nerves or stress and help you feel comfortable. We want you to enjoy your wedding day. We produce our best work when we get to know our wedding couples and you two trust us to have your backs, no matter what.

As wedding photographers, we are fast, creative, and masters of many photographic styles. We are also adaptable and cool under pressure. But what you may not know is that our composition, the gear that we use, the couples we photograph, the angles we shoot from, the lighting, and style and colors of each wedding, and the way I crop and edit each image all work together to give our work a distinct look and feel. There is something real, almost touchable, about our work. That emotion is authentic and a signature characteristic of our style.

Being nervous about how you will look in your wedding photos is completely normal. Nobody wants to feel awkwardly uncomfortable in front of a camera. That’s why we believe having a connection is so important. For example, perhaps you are not a fan of your arms in pictures. Knowing this allows me to use creative posing to hide or minimize the area so the attention is on you, not your arms. Being completely yourself is magic and it shows in your photos.

We use professional grade Canon brand mirrorless cameras and lenses to photograph all of our engagement sessions and wedding days. This gear is literally an extension of our mind and body. We trust it implicitly and appreciate not be limited by the gear so we can push the envelope, so to speak, and produce dreamy, one-of-a-kind images for each of our couples.

Your wedding photography purchase will include a blend of traditional, editorial, and photojournalistic images. Some images will be more traditional in feel. Think shots of the bridal party, family, and some wedding couple portraits! They tend to be a bit more formal, posed shots usually because of the large number of people in one photo. Other images will be more editorial in feel. Creating dreamy, artistic shots — the kind you would see on the cover of a magazine is our specialty! Think wedding couple portraits and some bridal party images. These compositions have more movement and can feel dramatic. For example, a flip of the hair or twirl of the skirt can add dimension and balance to your story.

Your love story wouldn’t be complete without including photojournalistic or candid (documentary style) images. The parts of your wedding day that you won’t see because you are getting ready are best told through a candid approach. My love of photojournalism is why I provide movements/actions rather than so many formal poses. Creative posing that is less directed or forced allows us to capture the magic that is already there so your personalities shine through.

Personality + Approach + Methodology + Artistry + Gear + Post Production Process + Editing Style = OUR STYLE

Are you ready to share your story with us?

send us a note!

you should look as beautiful in your pictures as you felt on your wedding day.

you should enjoy being photographed! It should be fun! This is one of the ways we capture real, authentic, natural looking smiles.

you should feel confident! You should feel like you are creating beautiful images because you are! No awkward 'what do I do with my hands' moments with us!!

your engagement session is practice for your wedding day. Your chemistry combined with our fun approach to posing equals confidence which creates romantic timeless images.that tell your love story as a couple.

We Believe

“WE believe the marriage is greater
than the wedding day.”

Want to see if we have your wedding date available?

send us a note!

Salish Lodge at Snoqualmie Falls is a breathtakingly beautiful wedding destination.  From the refined accommodations to the scenic waterfall backdrop, Salish Lodge is at the top of our bucket list of places we want to shoot a wedding!


Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Banff National Park boasts old world elegance and charm with breathtaking mountain and lake views.  If you want to feel like royalty while creating one of kind, magical wedding images, this is a bucket list wedding venue!


Biltmore Estate, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, is America's largest home. With its elegant timelessness and 8 acres of scenic backdrop, it's a photographer's paradise which makes is a bucket list venue for any wedding photographer..


Places We want to shoot at



want to see fun photos of us?

click on the images below
to learn more


back to main

I was born in Albany, Georgia but now call Wilmington, North Carolina home. I started playing the piano at age 4 and hold a degree in piano and voice. I am an operatically trained coloratura soprano. I taught piano and voice lessons privately for over 10 years. I also ran my own successful interior design firm for several years. Owning my own business provided me the freedom to be a parent when my children needed me the most.  

Being an interior designer and parent is actually how I got my start in photography. I began by photographing the homes I designed, interesting architectural pieces, and buildings. Then, I tried my hand at posing my energetic kids who didn't want their picture taken. I didn't take an interest in wedding photography until my first marriage netted me a disastrous wedding photography experience and no wedding photos. It's those memories that motivated me to start Bella Lumiere Photography. 

Just a couple of random facts that you may not know about me: I love everything Christmas!! I love it so much that I was married on December 20th. I wear a medical ID bracelet because I am allergic to everything in the nightshade food family which includes tomatoes, potatoes, all peppers, eggplant, goji berries, as well as tobacco. And, I am also a licensed insurance agent in the state of North Carolina. I specialized in commercial lines and hold both coveted CISR and CISR Elite designations. 

hey, I'm

back to main

I was born out west in Washington state, and now call Wilmington, North Carolina home. Just let me say that even though I was originally a Seattle Seahawk fan, and will be for life, I am also a Carolina Panthers fan for life... mostly because my neighbors threatened to disown me if I didn't convert! I started out my photography career as a macro photographer but have enjoyed success by bringing the same eye for capturing light into the wedding and portrait world. 

My love for capturing moments in time is evident throughout my work. I'm told that I have a knack for capturing the moments you didn't even know were happening during the wedding. My other loves include my family, golf, snowboarding, grilling on my Kamado Grill, and traveling. I am blessed to be able to photograph and preserve your wedding memories beside my beautiful wife and to witness the marriage of two people deeply in love.

Just a couple of random facts that you may not know about me: I am a licensed insurance agent in the state of North Carolina. I have recently developed a dairy allergy, so I am learning to love vegan food! I have a very large Pez collection, and I look forward to spring each year because I get to hand select new flowers for our yard. Call it a labor of love, but I love it. Oh, and I also LOVE gummy everything... worms, bears, rings, etc.

hey, I'm

back to main

I am what my humans call a "rescue" and I am about 7 years old.  I am a yorkie, beagle, lab mix and I love people and other dogs. 

A typical day for me is getting up when my humans get up, scratching at the door for them to take me outside, and then going back to bed.  I am not much of a morning dog.  When Mom is working on her laptop, I prefer to lay on her bed rather than on my bed... and I usually just fall asleep until it's lunchtime.  When Mom eats, I think I have to eat too.  I watch her eat first, of course, incase she drops something off of her plate.  I will go outside again, stretch my legs, bark at the occasional squirrel or bird and come back inside.  I jump back up on my humans' bed and curl up for an afternoon nap beside Mom while she's working on her laptop.  I am the best coworker ever!

When Dad gets home from work, I get so excited to see him and run to the door to greet him.  While Mom is cooking, I like to watch her by laying on the floor just outside of the kitchen door.  I am not allowed to be in the kitchen.  But what they don't know, is that if she drops something while she's cooking, I know it and will lay in wait until just the perfect time to grab it when nobody's looking. Of course, while Mom and Dad are eating, I keep watch... you know, for any random bits of food to "accidentally" fall onto the floor.  I guess this is my my Mom calls me her "Hairy Hoover"!  Afterwards, I eat since it's a rare occasion for a delicious piece of human food to fall to the floor.  By this point, the day is mostly over and my humans are settling in to just kick back and relax. 

When bedtime comes, I will go outside once more and then curl up in my bed right beside my humans' bed. It's a great life, I cannot complain.  Oh, and did I mention that I am a sucker for treats?  I will sit, lay, roll over, shake and high-five for a treat!  

hey, I'm DJ...

CLick here for more informatioN




click on the images below
to learn more