When Mac and Jennifer Hartshorn moved to Hoboken over a decade ago, they did so with the intention of raising a family. Along the way they grew their business, Hartshorn Portraiture, capturing the milestones of other families as they too went through the various stages of life.
This year the company celebrates 10 years of not only offering fine photography, but of also giving back to the community.
Building a partnership and a family
“The day we moved here, I found out I was pregnant,” said Jennifer in an interview last week. She had arrived from England at the age of 20 and eventually met Mac in Miami when she assisted him with a photography shoot. Mac was a fashion photographer who spent half of his year traveling around the world photographing models. When the couple sought to settle down, Jennifer said, “We realized we needed a change in lifestyle.”
The couple discovered Hoboken and on Sept. 22, 2002 – two years after arriving in town – they opened the doors to Hartshorn Portraiture in the Monroe Center for the Arts. The couple was also preparing for their second baby.
Mac had set out to photograph children at Jennifer’s suggestion.
“Kids force me to shoot more spontaneously [and] take more risks [such as] camera angles from up high or floor level [or] knee level even to capture these little ballerinas and soccer stars as they dance and prance,” said Mac. “It’s actually more wild and exciting taking pictures of kids than it ever was taking shots of models who just did whatever I asked.”
“Our clients are clients who appreciate art.” – Jennifer Hartshorn
“For me, my husband is the artist…and gets to be creative and have fun doing it,” said Jennifer.
“I’m the one who presents the images to the clients.”
Through Hartshorn Portraiture they have offered professional fine art family portraiture of pregnancy, newborns, and children.
Jennifer said the work doesn’t carry the stress of commercial photography.
“Mac spends two hours shooting,” said Jennifer. “I spend two hours looking over their images.”
The backdrops for the settings of the photo shoots range from the hardwood floors of the studio to sandy beaches and the ocean in the summer to leafy trees in parks during the spring and autumn seasons.
“We meet so many interesting people from all walks of life,” noted Jennifer.
Art of smiles and special moments
Over the past 10 years the company, which has a staff of four, has grown to include approximately 1,200 clients in the tri-state area, according to Jennifer.
“We are very high-end,” said Jennifer. “We are more expensive than any photography studio I know.” Jennifer is proud of this fact, she said, because it qualifies them for a certain type of clientele. “Our clients are clients who appreciate art.”
From a profile of an eight-months-pregnant woman walking across wet sand with the glow of the sunlit ocean behind her, to little sisters dressed in royal blue caught in a moment of playful laughter, Mac’s images capture a wide range of emotion and tenderness. The portraits can evoke feelings of happiness through a child’s unabashed smile or reveal a sense of intimacy in a couple’s embrace.
“I like to be spontaneous,” said Mac. “Each family or child is unique, as each shoot is completely unique to them, allowing me to capture the family relationship in all its intimacy and honesty.”
With a loyal clientele, the Hartshorns have watched client’s kids grow up before their cameras. To celebrate the 10th-year anniversary, the couple recently held a black-tie red carpet event at their studio for approximately 90 people that included clients they have worked with over the years.
Beyond being thankful to all of the individuals who have made the growth of the company a success, the couple also wants to make this year one where they continue their tradition of giving back to the community. In doing so, they plan to host a holiday fundraiser in their studio on Dec. 6 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to raise money for Hurricane Sandy efforts where people can do a bit of holiday shopping and buy organic jewelry from the Yenden Collection. Ten percent of the proceeds of sales will be donated and matched by the studio.
A week after Sandy, the Hartshorns were let in to their studio and had to squeeze three weeks of work into one week. They offered to replace any photography that had been lost or damaged in the storm for their clients.
Years of giving
“We donate our services to so many schools and fundraising events in this town,” said Jennifer.
She said that the company gives away services valued at $80,000 each year.
Hartshorn Portraiture donates their services to groups such as the Hoboken Family Alliance, Autism New Jersey, the Help for Children Foundation, and Hoboken’s Homeless Shelter, among others. They have also donated photography packages to schools such as the IDEAL School, Stevens Co-Operative, and Summit Speech School. They typically offer packages for silent auctions that start at $495 and go up to $2,150.
Mac has also worked with children who have special needs.
“He is a big kid himself,” said Jennifer. “He is very patient.”
“For me, giving back is a vital part of a full and rewarding life,” said Mac. “Hoboken and its surrounding area have been great to us. We love living and working in this vibrant community.”
Most recently Hartshorn Portraiture shot the red carpet for the Momma Mary Foundation gala fundraiser in October that was hosted by Cake Boss Buddy Valastro and his mother Mary, who has Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Launching a new line
Those who seek out Hartshorn Portraiture but can’t necessarily afford the high-end packages have the option of a new lower-end brand that has just been soft-launched called “H2 by Hartshorn.” The line offers photography by Mac’s associate photographer, Milena Jimenez, who has trained with him for three years. The official launch is in January.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.