Getting so excited for our Santa Sessions this upcoming weekend! This is such a different take on the type of portraits I am known for(aka, I NEVER do anything "themed" and "kitschy") but it has become one of my very favorite events that we put on.   Each year I schedule a time for my family to hop in with Santa during our sessions.  It seems like I usually don't have time to talk or show much of these photos because Santa intersects with the busiest time of year for me, so they sorta get back burnered until literally 2 days before Christmas when I rush and do something with them for my family.  These sessions have been such a fun source of laughter and memories for us.  Well, I should say fun memories for my family, STRESS memories for me! ha!  But looking back today and pulling these shots, I was almost in tears laughing at the nonsense that is my families time with Santa.  My parents and Joe's dad always use it as an opportunity to get a shot for their card as well....Mom takes it upon herself to do something fun/surprising for Santa.  I usually don't know what it is until they show up with the kids in tow...this makes for a lot of FUN, but depending on what it is, it makes for a whole lot of chaos, too!  Here are some funny outtakes from our Santa Sessions.  I have to say, the crying ones melt my heart almost more than the smile ones!  Merry Christmas Season from The Hartsell's!

Year One, Sharpe having none of Santa. He is one here because his birthday is at Christmas.  We did manage to get a cute family pic but it was all we could do to get him distracted enough to take this photo.

Tortured by Santa.  Hated every second....Joe and I stand there and laugh. We are super great parents.

Year Two.  Sharpe almost 2 years old. Still hates Santa.  This year mom thought it would be fun to 1) dress Darby up like Mrs. Clause.  And 2) bring elf suits for everyone...which stressed out me, Santa, and Darby...haha, but it was the funniest thing ever!!!  Both mom and dad and Joe's dad used this as their card that year.  I can't tell you how many people are still talking about it! I was I think  34 weeks pregnant, so you know, this was real fun for me...swollen feet, face, everything!

Darby hated Santa....we really wanted a Mr. and Mrs. Claus pic, but this was the best we got, haha!  Darby, the world's best and sweetest bear and look what we put her through!

Rough family pic, but we tried.  I do sorta wish you could see my HUGE belly here...Shepherd was on the way! I had him 5 weeks later.  Managed to get Darby to sit near santa for picture.

Here come the elves...these are the outtakes.  I'm dying at my dad and that big fake ear.  I am pretty sure Santa thinks we are nuts.

Mom's card that year:) You can see why all of their friends think they are crazy....grandkids will do that to ya:)

Year three and Shepherd's first Santa pic!  What a sweet boy.

Oh look!  Sharpe decides he likes Santa!  Only took 3 years!

Mimi decided everyone needed footed pajama onesies with their names on the butt!  If only I could post a full length of these two grown people in footed pajama onesies, too funny!  My dad has no butt and chicken legs, so we were dying at him in these pajamas.  He was embarrassed, but mom can be pretty persuading.  Maybe I can convince them to put them back on for gift opening this year:)

Pop's Christmas Card.  Look at those sweet babies! And Shepherd....gosh, I could just eat him up!

Thanks f0r taking this trip down memory lane with me.  I so look forward to all of the families that will be in front of my camera this Sunday and Monday.  If you want to know about Santa in the future, be sure to sign up for my newsletter via my fb page(click here).   30 of our 40 spots filled up before I ever started announcing the times and dates publicly, so you will want to make sure to get on this list to get a prime slot for next year!

 
October 29, 2015
 

Halloween 2015

 
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Yes, I fully recognize that Halloween isn't until this weekend, but with Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, all of the kid Halloween activities started today! They had to wear their costumes to school, there was a Halloween carnival at our church tonight, and a candy crawl in Downtown Concord Friday afternoon. So! This morning we went ahead and had our photoshoot, because to be honest, I don't know if these costumes will survive to Saturday! I present to you: Captain Hook, Peter Pan and Mr. Smee. And for the record, Sharpe is already over his costume and thinks he can still choose what to be for Halloween when we "walk up the street" on Saturday...and he wants to be a cowboy.  Well, kid, thats nice.

You can see the past Halloween photos here: 2014, 2013, 2012.

 

Oh goodness gracious.  Just like that 2014 came in went!  It would have been nice had I got this post up closer to the new year, but lets  be honest- the pre Christmas crazy kicked my booty so I needed to be home and with my babes and to get out of work mode for a bit.  We had a great holidays with the boys, shot a wedding on Jan 3, then left the next day for DISNEYWORLD! We just got back this past weekend so I am now getting my head around what I need to be doing this winter.  I have so many ideas for this business and where we are going- as well as so many exciting things to share- I decided to break up the Year in Review Posts into 2 posts- Personal and Business.  Here's a little recap into the Hartsell's Year- in mostly iPhone photos and some professional ones, too:)  If you follow me on instagram, some you may have seen, but I tried to find some never before seen images:)

Joe and I started our year celebrating 5 years of marriage, "waiting on baby", and caring for our adorable just turned 2 year old.  Our sweet little Shepherd was born on January 28th weighing in at 9 lbs 3 oz!  Sharpe still seems so smalls when I look back at these photos!  Many people had lots of warnings for us about a few things when it came to having two kids...1- that we would never have a second baby as easy as the first(we got SUPER lucky the first time)…and 2- that having 2 kids was WAY harder than having 1 and a total game changer.  Well, you know, being gigantically pregnant, shooting weddings while being gigantically pregnant, and dreaming of the future of your family with 2 baby boys- both of these nuggets of wisdom were pretty unwelcome!  Well, "the people" were right about 1 of the 2 things: Going from 1 kid to 2 WAS pretty crazy!  However, we were blessed with another great baby with a sweet disposition and easy attitude.  Shepherd did take a little while longer than Sharpe did to figure out the whole sleep thing, but for all other intents and purposes, he has been just the best!!  He was/is way more snuggly than our first guy which pretty much turns everyone who holds/takes care of him into mush.  Now two little boys have our whole family wrapped around their cute little fingers!  Still the only grandchildren(hint hint)- Sharpe and Shepherd have a whole plethora of people loving on them and telling them how special they are!

In the hospital:)  Hmmm, seems like we already took this same baby home once!  They looked so much alike in the newborn phase.  I had so many moments of dejavu those first couple of weeks!  Wearing the same clothes, sleeping in the same crib- it freaked me out more than once!

Shepherd at one month old.   Yup, he was that big at one month....and hasn't stopped since!

I spent the winter on somewhat of a "maternity" break and as spring approached, got back into the swing of working when our wedding season started up again.  Along came the end of Sharpe's school year and on came summer!  After being cooped up inside with a 2 year old and a newborn for the winter, summer was welcomed!

Sharpe on Mothers Day and Shepherd's 6 month portraits.

Sharpe 2.5, Shepherd 6 months.

More of Shepherd's 6 month portraits. 2 teeth!  Poor baby got teeth pretty early, which I think didn't help the sleep thing!

Off to the beach we went- we didn't get to go as much as last year because of our schedule, but we still made a few trips and had fun in the sand.  Sharpe was a perfect age- but babies that can't sit up much on their own or walk, just to be honest, aren't that fun at the beach:)  We had a great time, but boy this summer will be game changer! I can't wait to see them play together!!!!! Get ready for photo overload when that happens!

Made many trips to the lake- being just a short drive away it was a little more manageable with 2 kiddos.  It was easy to tend to the boys here and Sharpe really loved the water this year.

These two don't sleep together(in case you were wondering), but we always put Shepherd in the crib with Sharpe- and while we are at in we throw in Darby, too sometimes:)  Looking at this photo- Sharpe had given up his paci during the day early in the year- but was still using at night and at naps.  This fall he "left it in the mountains" when on a trip with Mimi and Paw Paw.  What a big boy! I was so worried that giving up the paci would RUIN EVERYTHING...but it was all very uneventful. Only one Paci in the house now!

Here came the start of fall! Annual trip to the fair:)  About this same time we started the most crazy wedding run we have had in the history of this business!  I pretty much went into "survival" mode and boy am I am so thankful for all of my helpers! And in business news- also at this same time my office was moved out of the house!  More details on this to come in the business Year in Review:)  We haven't been "hiding" info, there was just simply no time to talk about it, but I really can't wait to share!  Sharpe and Shepherd both went to "school". Sharpe 3 days a week and Shepherd 2 days and thankfully we settled into a routine- which mostly consisted of having all hands on deck so that we could manage our crazy work schedule.  This was a huge learning process- we have been VERY busy before, but not with two kids.  I learned a lot about juggling it all and definitely suffered from a lot of mom guilt, but we made came to the other side of it.  However, what I learned through it all will definitely affect how I operate things moving forward.  Thankfully and LUCKILY I just LOVE what I do, but 2015 will definitely be the year of balance and I am truly excited about that.

Hello Halloween!  This is one of our favorite times of the year.  Joe and I talk and talk and talk and talk and talk……LITERALLY until we are blue in the face about what do for the kids costumes.  Besides Sharpe's one year costume which was a friends that has been worn for 3 little boys first Halloweens- we have a rule that the kids costumes have to be somewhat "homemade" + add to that the rule that Darby has to be involved.  Ya know, just a few of our criteria:) We were pretty excited about this scuba diver idea.  Personally, I don't think it translates in photos quite as well as in person, but it was pretty much the cutest thing ever!  They had these little "air tanks" and Sharpe walked around in his flippers all day!

Early in the fall Shepherd had to get his "helmet" to try and fix a flat spot on the back/side of his head.  I was SO worried this would disrupt things, but little boy never skipped a beat!  Joe's sister got married early in the fall so there was lots of celebration and excitement in the family.  Sharpe was a ring bearer but refused to walk down the isle, so that, yea, was fun.  He loved soaking up all the attention, but delivering a box down the isle-not so much;)

And then it was Christmas!  Just in the nick of time, literally, I wrapped up all Christmas orders, got all weddings out the door and celebrated with the family.  I love the boys in their picture with their Pops.  It's truly a picture of who they are and their personalities.

And just for fun here are some of the Christmas Card outtakes- I shot them on the white background and 'cut' them out of for our card.   The whole thing was very chaotic- I was sweating, Darby was getting poked in the eye, but we managed a few good shots- but it was not without total chaos while it was happening!


I tried to think of solid takeaways that I had from this past year.  There are a few that stand out- and they all have to do with balance. And in the effort of keeping it real and not letting it seem like our life is all beautiful babies and butterflies(although the beautiful baby part is definitely true;)) There were a few hard lessons that I learned this year.  What I learned is that  I am a go getter/ambitious/can't stop/ won't stop until I reach my goal kind of gal.  I've been that way my whole life.  I like to be earning/achieving/doing/accomplishing/dreaming/implementing/accelerating.  That drive is in my innate makeup- nobody has to push me.  It's self inflicted.  Because of this I can get over committed, work too much, not say no enough, or try to fit too many things into my day.  In 2015 I plan to be more available.  Jut available.  Not be overcommitted, take on what I know I can do WELL without being a crazy person.  I am so thankful I love what I do and LOVE the clients I get to do it with- but I do have two sweet little babes at home.  And they need me.  Lots of me.  Some changes are coming down the pipe- none that have to do with quitting or really even doing "less"- but more having to do with "This is the time I have to do work stuff" and "This is the time I have to do home stuff".  Deliberate boundaries- which will benefit my family as well as my clients.  The person deep inside of me that wants to excel/achieve/design/do/grow/build/dream will know when the time for that will be, and the person inside of me that wants to do nothing, go on walk with the kids, have a play date, go on a real date, workout, read, pray, take a drive somewhere fun- knows when that will be- and there will be TIME for it to even happen.  Every day will not be jammed packed.  Some days will be work days and some days will be home days- and the home days can't/won't turn into work days.  They can't.  and not because I want to be part time or not service my clients, but I can do client things on client days and family things on all the other days. And when the client days are full, thats all the client days that were to be had and from there on the answer has to be "the schedule is full" not, "well monday I was supposed to stay home because we shot an out of town wedding this past weekend and got back late Sunday night, but sure I a can do it".  My takeaway for the year (most specifically the fall) was that I am no good to anyone when I am doing more than I can handle while staying sane.  And when I am missing my kids/hubby/homelife it affects my attitude and disposition to everyone- even when I AM home.  Yes, it may be in my "capacity" to do(as in it did all get done), but thats not the life I want our family to have.  I am braindead when I get home, don't feel like engaging, and in general a pain to be around(ask Joe, the obvious saint in this house!) when I am that tired and giving my best energy away outside our house.  Balance is needed in 2015.  It will be my goal and mantra for the year.  I need time and space to love on my family and love on my friends and love on people I don't even know yet.  Oh yea, and love on my clients more too(obviously!).  I am convinced I will do that when there is time and space to spend time with my family and then have scheduled time for work.  This part may have sounded like a business side of our recap, but it really isn't.  It's very personal in that my heart cries out to be with my little people more.  And, that I am really not keeping it all together perfectly as a wife, mom, friend, and business owner as this new fangled internet makes it seem.  This life is full of different seasons, and this past season was a rough one in the area of family time.  It was full of "success" in many areas, but what felt like me as failures in areas that I thought would be easier in making it all happen and being there for my littles.  We lived and learned, but the lessons will stick with me and changes have to be made because of them.  Be sure to ask me hows its going in a few weeks/months.  This is important to me.  I want some accountability!  The crazy achiever could rear its ugly head and I end back up in this same boat- so please ask!

Thanks for reading this worlds longest post about our year and for checking in on us.  Please stay tuned for the Biz recap next week! I have SO many FUN and FUNNY things to share!  Really, get excited!





 
February 11, 2014
 

Shepherd’s Nursery

 
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Hello world wide web!  I'm back- well, sort of!  Our little man is 2 weeks old today and boy has the time flown by!

Shepherd Wesley Hartsell was born on January 28th and was 9 lbs 3 ounces and 22.5 inches long!

I thought there was no way in the world he would be bigger than Sharpe when he was born, especially because Shepherd was born 2 weeks earlier, but goodness he came out such a big and perfect boy!    He is such a sweet and good natured baby.  We are well over here and simply adjusting to life with 2.  People weren't lying when they said it was hard work, but we are managing pretty well and figuring it all out:)  Sharpe is a great big brother, but honestly, could care less.  He is starting to come around and take more interest in "Baby Shepherd", but for the most part his 2 year old self is a little unphased.  It probably has something to do with the undivided attention he is getting from all of his grandparents right now;)  I'm lucky to have their help, but one little boy is getting more and more spoiled by the second!

After getting 4.5 hours of sleep in a row(apparently there was a feeding in there somewhere, but in my exhaustion I slept right through it.  Super dad Joe to the rescue), I feel a little less like The Walking Dead and a little more normal and out of my newborn fog....kinda.  Go 4.5 hours of sleep!  We did take some newborn pics which I will post soon, but in the meantime I wanted to post Shepherd's nursery.  A huge thanks to my dear, dear friend Meredith Beregovski with Georgia Street Design for consulting with me on the nursery details, talking me off ledges when I couldn't find anything I liked and thought the nursery would totally stink, approving my purchases when I did find stuff I liked, helping me find the most perfect fabric and designing the curtains, pillows and crib skirt, and for in general just being one of the greatest friends a girl could ask for.  Ya'll, get on her schedule ASAP.  Some of her work is soon going to be on a HGTV show that begins filming in the next few weeks!  Her work is the real deal and I am so proud of her!

Hope you like it as much as we do!  The little guy is still sleeping in our room, but I know he is going to love it in here when he finally does sleep in his own bed.

I knew I wanted a "dog" theme, but pretty much everything I could find was totally kiddie or cartoony- which is definitely not my decorating style.  If it's possible, I reached the end of Etsy.  To no avail.   After I found the Dog wallpaper, it really all started to come together!  All of the furniture was from Sharpe's Nursery.  He got big boy beds so his nursery furniture was moved into the baby's room.   I knew the queen bed had to stay(after debating and debating and debating some more), so after making Joe move the queen bed to literally every wall in the room so I could see how it looked, we finally landed it back to it's original starting point- in between the windows(I'm telling you, I married a saint!). Oh, and Meredith said it would look fine there the whole time, haha...I'm SUPER fun to work with;)

 New hardware for the cabinet from Anthropologie, and these cute little scottie dog hooks, too!

 Joe and I found the rug at Tuesday Morning up in Asheville just by chance one day.  Love Tuesday Morning! Wish I lived closer to one...although that might be a bad thing.  The mirrors we already had, they hung over the bed when it was a guest room, we just painted them navy per Meredith;).

 I love the fabric, curtain rods, pillows and crib skirt so much!  Meredith is the goddess of fabric.  As a fabric snob myself, I don't say this lightly, either!  She just has a way with seeing how everything is going to look.  She sourced these curtain rods, too!  I adore them!

Joe really wanted there to be some "hunting dogs" in the room.  After reaching the end of the internet for the 5th time, I was able to find some vector images of dogs for sale which I was able to turn blue and print as photos.  So proud of this little project! Oh, and Lindsey Lee Photography sells these frames in all sizes if you are interested!

The headboard was the same as we used the guest room.  Just tried to find a way to masculine it up a bit.

Hope you enjoyed the tour of his room!  I am taking some time off this month and next to be with our sweet Shepherd and Sharpe, but am looking forward to getting some amazing things up on the blog, too.  Be sure to check back.  Oh, and happy snow days ahead (fingers crossed!).

 
  1. chelsea cote:

    just gorgeous! you and meredith are a dream team!

  2. Ashley:

    Love this! Can you tell me the designer of or where I can find that wallpaper?

January 19, 2014
 

my belly. baby #2.

 
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So I REALLY wasn't going to do maternity photos...like, really.  We had such a busy fall, I felt like I missed the window of "cute preggo lady" and had moved on to "people are giving me that sympathetic look at Target preggo lady" .  The swelling, the puff, the waddle.  I'm not kidding.  In TJ MAXX last night I totally had a sympathy conversation with the random woman in the bathroom.  All this to say, we had these cute selfies (us + our cameras + a trigger) that we did with Darby when I was pregnant with Sharpe, and my mom has been on us to do the same shots with baby #2.  I thought it was a great idea, I really did, it just seemed that we should have done it, oh, 10 weeks ago!! Now that baby boy will be here in 10 days, I suddenly regretted that we hadn't done it and so we made it happen.  Just getting my hair and makeup and self ready + sweating + finding something that fit was enough to make me realize we should have done it much sooner, but nonetheless, it got done.  Selfies round 2!  We weren't focused on getting a variety of shots, but on getting literally the same couple of poses we got the first time around.  I think we did a pretty good job:) So, here I am- about to POP!  Hello big round belly!  I can do this- 10 more days to go:)  

 
  1. chelsea cote:

    these are so sweet!

  2. jill:

    Yall are just beautiful and all….. but I can’t get over that Darby person…..

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