Friday, July 29, 2011

My So-Called Life: Kaleigh

It's that time of year again. You know, the time where me and some really awesome seniors go out and sweat to death for an hour to get some really amazing senior shots:) But seriously, I just love this time of the year! All sweating by all parties aside. I love getting to hang out with high schoolers going into their senior year...hearing about what they are into, getting them to be their natural selves, just having fun together and laughing. Lots of laughing. Kaleigh was no exception...she is a beautiful and outgoing girl that I know will go super far in life with her dazzling personality. We had a blast together. Enjoy this sneak peak! More seniors to come for weeks and weeks.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

True Love-Terri and Fred

While Jessie's parents were in town for her wedding, they decided to have a little love shoot to commemorate their anniversary. How amazingly sweet!!!! It was so fun to get to hang out with them a little extra aside from the wedding- and to really get to know them better. Jessie is blessed to have two amazing parents who love each other and who are STILL completely smitten with being together. These two don't mind snuggles!!!!! I loved it- Enjoy!


Monday, July 25, 2011

{Anna & Eric} Charlotte Wedding Photographer

It was a beautiful and actually really mild June day. Anna and Eric were all smiles and their friends and family just smiled right along with them. We had a blast together, and I am so happy for these two! A and E- Joe and I had an amazing time celebrating with you both! Enjoy this gorgeous wedding!! and don't forget the slideshow at the bottom:)

Anna's moms veil. Just beautiful.


Can't really put into words how much I LOVE this shot...


Thursday, July 21, 2011

{Rachelle & Aaron} Duke Mansion Wedding Photographer

Rachelle and Aaron had such a beautiful wedding at the AMAZING Duke Mansion. I just love it there! It is a wedding venue like none other- classic, timeless, old-worldly, it is just an amazing place to shoot. The grounds are always so immaculate and the staff so helpful. Rachelle and Aaron didn't skip a beat when it literally started monsoon-ing shortly before their outdoor ceremony and right after we had begun the pre-ceremony photos. The staff at the Duke Mansion swung into action, bringing everything indoors, and I have to say it was the best/prettiest rain plan I have ever seen. Everything was still gorgeous and the rain managed to lighten for us to get some photos after the ceremony in the gardens on the grounds. The crown had an amazing time celebrating with these two, and there was so much love in the room that there were many tears as Aaron gave a speech thanking all of those who have loved him so well over the years. Enjoy this sneak peak, and don't forget the slideshow at the end:) Happy Thursday!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

{Jessie & Chris} The Point Wedding Photographer

How can I even start a post about these two! They are possibly the world's best clients...except for I now consider them friends. Their smiles are truly indicators of the type of people that they are. Smiles, all smiles, all the time. They are infectious. I need to be more like them! Seriously. Jessie and Chris bought my baby his first gift, they are incredibly thoughtful, and they had an amazing wedding with reception at The Point. What more can a girl ask for! When going through their photos, there are so many memories that stick out to me, but the best one being that at their reception, Jessie's dad single handedly started a flash mob. True story. He made up the dance, he got it organized, then he started a flash mob. Who does that?! Awesome Mr. Hansel, that's who! You two, you amaze me, can't wait to make more memories down the road with you!

Don't forget to watch the slideshow at the end for more photos.

You know it's gonna be a great day when it starts with a sparkly pair of Jimmy Choo's.


I absolutely loved Jessie's dress. So unique...and pockets!


Tons of time for photos. Yes, this couple nailed every detail!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Family Love- Hudson

In about 15 years, watch out girls, this one is going to be a serious heartbreaker!! Is Hudson not one of the cutest little boys you have ever seen?! Those eyes, that grin, those lashes....he is just the best. I dare you to not smile while you look at these...


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Workshop - THIS SUNDAY!

So many of you are interested in the workshop this coming weekend, but you are all at Ocean Isle...or at swim team tournament....or shopping at the outlets at Myrtle Beach, the list goes on! Lucky devils! I am working hard on getting another date set up for all of you that are interested but can't make it this weekend- I am thinking sometime in September or October. Life is getting just a tad crazy as we prepare for the arrival of Baby Boy(we found out!), so I am trying to figure it out quickly. Meanwhile, this coming weekend the workshop is still available and spots could still be had. It is looking like a more intimate affair, but that is just better for those of you that are coming! More attention and time for you! Here are the details:

*The class will be from 3:00pm -6:30pm on Sunday, July 17th.

*This is a class for beginner DSLR users. What if you don't have a digital SLR? Borrow one and come join the fun! The class is for people who have never "gotten off green" when using their camera to those who have read the owner's manual but still don't completely understand what the heck an f/stop is. (if you are reading this and have never even heard of an f/stop, this class is for you, too:))

*There will be lots of one on one time and plenty of time for questions- then we will all practice what we have learned with a real LIVE model.

*Tuition is $150 Email me at to hold your spot. I will email you back holding your spot and confirming with you when the tuition is received.

*Location: The Loft at 14th, Concord, NC

The class could even be for the more serious hobbyist who just haven't quite mastered aperture or shutter speed. Definitely email me with any questions. You can also email to be added to the mailing list to know of the next workshop date. Hope to see you there!

You could be taking pics like this soon! Have a great Tuesday!!!


Monday, July 11, 2011

True Love- Tonya and Ian

Love these two! After five years of dating, they are tying the knot! School has been super important to them, but they are both chomping at the bit to start life together, and finally in the same city!! I am so excited for their winter wedding at The Millennium Center in Winston, it is one super fabulous venue and I just love shooting there for the variety it offers. Ian and Tonya were great sports when it came to their engagement session. With Tonya getting her PHd in South Carolina, we were limited on dates she was to be home to meet up with Ian in Charlotte....then low and behold we had some tortuous storms blow through right when we were to do our session. Luckily, they were game for waiting in the car to see if it blew over, and it finally did! A little rain never stopped us from having fun and getting some fabulous photos! Tonya had this great clear umbrella(note to self, get some of those!) and we had fun even when it started raining again. You two! Can't wait for more fun times to come!!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

{Brooke & Patrick} Charlotte Wedding Photographer

Brooke and Patrick....their love is pure and true. Their day was fun and blessed. Joe and I loved being a part of their special moments and both of their families are just wonderful. Brooke was stunning...and when she is around Patrick, she completely lights up. The day was hot, oh so very hot, but the whole bridal party hung in there and we were able to get some great photos. Their reception at The Orchard House had so much charm and we really hope to get out there again soon!

Love you both! Hope married life is more than you thought it could be!

And don't forget to watch the slideshow at the end:)


Joe's shot below to the left. I'm in L.O.V.E.


The had this slideshow song performed live during their ceremony. I never get tired of hearing it...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The most emotional July 4th weekend ever...

If you follow me on facebook or twitter, you might know that we had quite the dramatic weekend. Honestly, I am still reeling from the experience/may start crying just writing this. On Sunday, we had some friends down to the lake for a fun July 4th get together and day on the lake. So many fun times were had- tubing, skiing, and just hanging out with great friends. Darby, of course, had her place of honor on the front of the boat and rode around all day. She just loves the lake- swimming, playing with the other lake dogs, and drinking water from the lake to name a few.

We never worry about her down there, she is so obedient and never is far from Joe or I, even when the other lake dogs are running all around. Around 9 on Sunday night, it was almost totally dark and we were just picking up all of our stuff that was out on the dock and getting ready for the night. Suddenly, very close by(20 yards or so) folks started letting off fireworks unexpectedly. Darby became immediately spooked and took off back down the dock for land. Joe went directly after her calling her and trying to get her to calm down. She was running, and fast, and took off into the shadows. At this point it was totally dark and we couldn't see where she went.

Thus began the longest 16 hours of my life. Seriously. Those without dogs that they totally love might think this is ridiculous, but I cannot think of another time that I have been so distraught and upset. ever. I immediately had a sinking feeling and knew that she had to be scared out of her mind to run and to not listen to us when we were calling her. This started the night hunt that we did for her until 2 in the morning. Luckily, or unluckily, the lake property is not a busy area, in fact very rural. But the unlucky part being that the area is very rural, meaning thousands of acres. Joe started walking the woods at 9 with nothing but a flashlight, and I was looking for her up and down the roads yelling and calling her name. Others at the lake tried to help, but it was pitch dark and only very few flashlights and all of our friends had left. Plus, it was not as big of a deal to the masses as it was to Joe and I that our dog was missing. Lots of "aw, she'll come back"s by many local and friendly rednecks. Though this line of thought proved very unhelpful to me. More fireworks, I knew, were not going to help us find her- and they continued off and on until well after midnight. Still, we look and yelled for her and looked some more. Joe, I know, covered many miles back and forth in the woods with just a maglight. We were so upset and I was trying not to panic quite yet, but couldn't help but just cry at the thought of not being able to find her. I had the worst doom feeling because I knew she was not one to run off, much less just decide to come home if she was that scared. We prayed and prayed. I am definitely not one to waste prayers, but I know the Lord knows how much we love her, though I was resigned to the fact that I know He loves me wether we found her or not. I tried hard not to bargain with Him, but it was super hard not to. I just kept praying we would find her safely.

Eventually we decided to try and sleep and get up at first light to look some more. All night, or the 4 hours we laid down, we kept getting up every time we heard something thinking it could be her. Needless to say that it wasn't much rest, not to mention the fact that Joe got up half way through the night and became sick from all the water that had gotten up his nose from his couple of nasty falls skiing. (I won't go into detail here) At 6, we got up to a completely sinking feeling once we knew she had not returned overnight. And by sinking feeling, I mean a total and complete breakdown. All rationale was out the window and we both were just puddling messes over thinking about our missing bear and how scared she must be. Also, the fact that we know she is a city dog, not a country dog, and her days consist of laying on a padded bed in air conditioning, not being lost in the woods with no food or water. Drinking water out of the lake is as rustic as she gets. After all, she is a Hartsell dog, people! She has a very wonderful life!

With everyone in my family at the beach, I felt even more helpless, but called Leah, the best friend a girl could ask for, to come get me to take me back to Concord so that we could make flyers and so that Joe wouldn't have to be without his car. She came and we were back on the road to Concord by 7:30(it's about a 35 minute drive). We left Joe hunting, while we came to make the flyers. Poor Leah, I cried the whole way home, but she was so supportive and tried to stay calm. It was not a good scene. When we got to the house and I saw Darby's bowls, and then her crate, and then her toys, the breakdown continued. I checked in on her micro chip and even the sweet man at the 24 hr pet watch made me cry even more by telling me to hang in there. Looking through her pictures trying to find just the right ones that showed her shape and size was also heartbreaking.....ones like this of her with her dad made me want to crawl in a hole.
Leah and I made the flyers and headed back down to the lake armed with staple guns, tape, and 400 Lost Darby flyers. This search was no joke people! I had to find my sweet Darby!

By the time we got back, Katie and Haskell had come, Joe's dad had met up with Joe, and Leah's husband Daniel had come as well, so we all split up with the flyers. We put those bad boys up high and low and talked to every person who would listen, was standing outside their house, or looked remotely like someone who would care. So many sweet people gave us words of encouragement, but honestly this just made me cry worse. Every sweet lady in every gas station would say something so nice that I would just cry as I taped up the flyers.

Come 1 in the afternoon, we had put up the majority of the flyers and talked to everyone we could. I was starting to make my plan for the rest of the week....move down to the lake, go get my computer so I could try and work and figure out a way to have someone down there at all times in case she came back. Joe at this point was the walking dead since he hadn't slept and had now been hiking the woods for some 6-8 hours. My mom, who I had called at 6:30am at the beach in a total state of ridiculousness had also just arrived- they left the beach as soon as she could get the car loaded to come help. So she set off with Leah to hang up more flyers. Joe and Daniel had run out of the flyers and had stopped in at the house to get water. I was making Joe sit down for a second, when no more then a few minutes had passed and the house phone rang. We jumped up to get it and it was a man who Joe's dad had spoken with at the nearby Boy Scout Camp earlier that morning, which by the way, is located on 1000 acres. Katie and Haskell had also taken some flyers by there. He called to say that he had our dog! Let me tell you what relief we felt!!!! We couldn't stop smiling, though I really wanted to lay eyes on her before I truly believed it.

The man at the camp had been keeping a lookout when he said he found her in one of the campsites that wasn't being used that week. I could've kissed this man!!! He had no clue how much of a panic we had been in and what it meant to have her back. Darby was slapped dab worn out. Weak on her feet, covered in briars(did I mention poodle fur not the best for woodsy activities) and limping because her poor paws were basically rubbed raw. She had NO energy and I am so glad we found her when we did. I am not sure how much longer she would have made it on her own in the state she was found. Completely dehydrated, her nose was covered in mud from where she was trying to find water in a mud puddle(silly dog, come home and there is a whole lake you can drink out of). I have never felt such dread followed by such elation in such a short amount of time. So, the ordeal was finally over! From 9pm until almost 2pm the next day we searched high and low for her. So many friends offered support and help and I am so thankful to all of them. I know that if we didn't do ALL we could, I would have never forgiven myself if it did not have a happy outcome. And super thankful to our friends who gave up basically their holiday to help us. Joe and I truly truly owe each of you, BIG TIME!

After we had all calmed down, and our adrenaline finally gave out, my mom said to me "Now you know what it will be like when you have a child, how much you will worry....". I said to her, "Oh, now I definitely know!!!!! That nearly killed me!" Which, in hindsight was a good lesson to learn considering we will get to test that theory come December.

That's right, in case you missed it, Baby Hartsell due this December:) We were planning to "go public" this week and this seemed like the right time to announce it after all we have been through this weekend and after all the love and support we were given by so many. If this baby is loved near as much as Darby, he/she will be in pretty good shape....and I can only image how much MORE it will be loved, as it already is so much even right this second. I guess now would be a good time to post the infamous ultra sound photo, but we don't have a digital copy so far and I have another ultra sound next week that will be much more up to I will post one then. In fact, next week we will find out what we are having! I know! I am sure life will be super different this time next year, but we are so excited for the journey and can't wait to see what is in store for us as parents. We have had some time for the news to soak in personally for us, and we are just too excited and can't wait to be a mom and dad and grow our family together. Besides just being super exhausted(oh yea, and this was right around the time LeAnn got married, a nice combination), I have been very lucky so morning sickness, which is how I have been able to keep on keeping on without skipping too many beats. May was a little rough with my fatigue, but that was the worst of it so far. In fact, we have already shot 7 weddings since finding out! If I was a little slow on my turnaround in May and early June, consider this my official apology:) Nobody knew we were preggers and the fatigue had me sleeping sometimes more than I was able to work. All in all, though, it has been a great process for us so far.

As far as weddings this year go, we were pretty lucky in how the whole thing worked out, so we will not miss anything that we already have booked:) So thankful to get to work with all of the brides we have scheduled this year! One thing that may be a little different towards the end of the year would be Christmas photos and Christmas mini-sessions, but I plan on working all of that out soon and posting it on my facebook fan page and then on the blog.

I know this was a super long post with lots of different news, so thank you for taking the time to read it!! We will resume regular photo goodness tomorrow:)

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Workshop, July 17th 2011

There are still some spots available at the next Workshop! Want to learn how to take better photos with your fancy DSLR? Tired of shooting on the "green" button? Well that is exactly what Joe and I teach you how to do! We have totally fallen in love with helping others take great pictures of the people and things they love in their life. Here is the scoop:

*The class will be from 3:00pm -6:30pm on Sunday, July 17th.

*This is a class for beginner DSLR users. What if you don't have a digital SLR? Borrow one and come join the fun! The class is for people who have never "gotten off green" when using their camera to those who have read the owner's manual but still don't completely understand what the heck an f/stop is. (if you are reading this and have never even heard of an f/stop, this class is for you, too:))

*There will be lots of one on one time and plenty of time for questions- then we will all practice what we have learned with a real LIVE model.

*Tuition is $150 Email me at to hold your spot. I will email you back holding your spot and confirming with you when the tuition is received.

*Location: The Loft at 14th, Concord, NC

The class could even be for the more serious hobbyist who just haven't quite mastered aperture or shutter speed. Definitely email with any questions. Hope to see you there!

And for a little photo goodness. A shot of Leah that I took yesterday at a mentoring session that I had with another photographer who is wanting to get her own business up and running. This was during our practice time and Leah was nice enough to come model....she did a pretty good job, don't ya think?


Family Love- Madison and Ella

These two little sweeties are just the best! Madison and Ella are growing up in a major way, last time you saw Madison, there wasn't even an Ella yet. Ella turned one, so we commemorated with a nice, hot photo session:) I think mom and dad were a little relieved they weren't in this one because we were all super busy sweating while chasing after these two. The kids hung in there and really hammed it up for the camera. Love them and love these shots. Happy Friday!!


Ella= super cool in her shades