Behind the Scenes with Hartshorn Portraiture

Written by Melissa Wise

Recently, we had the opportunity to meet with Jennifer Hartshorn of Hartshorn Portraiture in their stunning studio located at the Monroe Center. You are immediately taken with the gorgeous images that Mac has produced over the years hanging on their walls that are sheer artwork. His style captures real life and you see that from the second you look at the pictures. Jennifer's down-to-earth, "real mom" personality makes it easy to see why so many families have selected the Hartshorns to capture their important moments.

My little family and I were lucky enough to have the opportunity to see Mac in action.

We headed in for a family session in their studio and chatted with Mac while classic rock tunes played in the background. He told us that he likes to just see where the day takes us (especially with a toddler who was already trying to climb ladders, bouncing on their couches, and crashing face first into walls....yes, that happened!). We also let him know that we were going to let him be the boss and would do as we were told.

Once he started shooting, he didn't disappoint. He had great ideas and Kane, our little ham, certainly was dictating where the shoot was going. At one point, my husband was spinning him around shirtless by his arms while Mac shot over his shoulder to capture Kane's pure joy! We walked out of there CONVINCED that we would have amazing shots to view when Mac had them ready for us!

We have done a lot of professional shoots since becoming engaged...engagement pictures, wedding pictures, family photos with our new puppy (true story!), newborn shots, family shots with the puppy and baby, smash cake, first birthday party, holiday card, and so on and so on..... I am the WORST person in the world to photograph as I am hyper critical. My husband is a natural and my son is adorable and loves the camera in his face, but I always look like Chandler Bing when he got engagement pics done with Monica.....I hate smiling, I hate my profile, my nose looks big, my arm looks fat....and I pick only the pictures of everyone else but myself. Mac saw through my issues in about five seconds of shooting me and immediately put me at ease and helped me to just be "in the moment". Because of this, I know simply from viewing these behind the scenes shots that our pictures will be beautiful.....of all of us, even me!

I wanted to be able to learn a little bit more about Mac and share with our readers, so I sat down with some questions.

How did you find your love for photography?

Photography found me. In my senior year at a very small high school, it was assumed that I would be the yearbook photographer. I jumped on the idea and soon discovered the dark room.

It was not until a few years out of university that I teamed up with one of my brothers as a fashion photographer in Miami Beach. Our apartment had a huge living room that we had converted into a studio. One of the bathrooms was a darkroom. This is where it all began.

What sets Hartshorn apart from the other local family photographers?

Our high quality service and the recognizable style sets us apart from the crowd. We strive to provide our clients with a memorable experience from start to finish. Beginning with an in-studio consultation and ending with a presentation at our studio where my wife, Jennifer, reviews the images with each client. She helps our clients narrow down the selection of images with the goal of creating art that will become heirlooms within ​their​ family. Our mission statement is, "your family is your masterpiece" and this is something that we truly believe. We are among the very few photographers that have a studio space and our curated images are produced in-house starting with individual editing and in-house archival printing which is unusual in these days of modern technology.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the emotions that are triggered when our clients view the images of their children. Many times during the presentation a client will begin to cry. In my 15 years as a fashion photographer, not a single tear had been shed.

I hope that the images and artwork that we create today will be appreciated for a lifetime. I know that I feel that way about the images that I have created of our children.

What is your dream shoot?

It happens often. You might imagine that after a few decades I would be in a rut, but these kids, whether naughty or nice, keep showing me something new to capture. I find that my dream shoot happens when I am most challenged. As an example, I had a shoot in terrible weather last year at the beach. It looked like rain was imminent. There was a howling 25 knot wind, a super high tide and huge waves that reached across the beach hitting the dune fence with thick brown sea foam. My subjects: a 7 year old boy with an impish grin ​who ​was entertained by the whole spectacle while his mother was considering the idea of ​rescheduling the shoot. We soldiered on and the results were spectacular. Those less than favorable conditions often deliver beautiful images.

What is your favorite thing about Hoboken?

We have roots here having arrived in 2001. I grew up in a suburb thinking that this was ideal not knowing that my parents were feeling isolated. Every where I go I see familiar faces. Our favorite restaurants are Anthony David's and Bin 14 both owned by Liz and Anthony Pino. Delicious food and great service. It is wonderful to walk into a restaurant and be greeted by people who know you.

Next up......I get to see the images and will be sure to share those with you!!!