Suburban Classic Magazine

Suburban Classic Magazine

Suburban Classic Magazine

Suburban Classic Magazine
Summer 2008
by Brooke Perry
www​.sub​ur​ban​clas​sic​.com

Kids force me to shoot more spon­ta­neously, take more risks, cam­era angles from up high or floor level, knee level even, to cap­ture these lit­tle bal­leri­nas and soc­cer stars as they dance and prance. 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.”

Mac Hartshorn has come a long way from the days when he served as his school’s year­book pho­tog­ra­pher because “no one else would do it.” These days, he is one of the tri-​state area’s most sought-​after por­trait pho­tog­ra­phers – a gifted pro­fes­sional whose high-​fashion back­ground and intu­itive edi­to­r­ial style cre­ate a “less is more” phi­los­o­phy that res­onates in every shot.

A for­mer com­modi­ties bro­ker who hap­pily gave up his Miami desk job to assist his pho­tog­ra­pher brother, Ted, on fash­ion shoots, Hartshorn never looked back. “I liken my career deci­sions to ‘float­ing on a breeze,’” he says. “I don’t ago­nize over decisions.”

Compared to my brother, whose daily whirl con­sisted of fash­ion shoots, beau­ti­ful girls, travel and more beau­ti­ful girls, mine was a mighty mun­dane life. The stark truth is I wanted Ted’s life.”

Hartshorn quickly estab­lished him­self in the world of high-​fashion pho­tog­ra­phy and was embraced by top design­ers, fash­ion mag­a­zines and cat­a­logs. A photo shoot for Cosmopolitan mag­a­zine led him to Jennifer Goodin, a young photographer’s assis­tant from England who is now his wife. “She had just arrived in Miami from trav­els that had taken her half way around the world,” recalls Hartshorn. “She’d left the white cliffs of England to crew on a yacht through the Caribbean and South America, then finally after some wild adven­tures around the Panama Canal where she as held up by gun-​toting ban­dits, she stepped off the boat in LA where she nan­nied for a wealthy busi­ness man and his wife and young son.”

Following two wed­dings – “a secret one 12 years ago and another two years later in a his­toric church in England, com­plete with top hats, tails and masses of wild­flow­ers” – Jennifer and Mac set­tled in Hoboken. On “move day,” Jennifer dis­cov­ered she was preg­nant and, as she moved through the trimesters, Mac began to pho­to­graph her preg­nancy. Later, friends who saw the shots asked him to pho­to­graph them, too. “This was just a few years after Demi Moore’s infa­mous nude preg­nant cover shot for Vanity Fair by Annie Leibovitz,” said Hartshorn. “Pregnant bel­lies were a fash­ion statement.”

Once their baby girl was born, Mac took pho­tographs of his daugh­ter Madeline and soon all of their friends were clam­or­ing for shots of their new­borns, too. His desire to spend more time with his young fam­ily after the birth of their sec­ond daugh­ter, Cameron, led him to estab­lish a stu­dio por­trait busi­ness in Hoboken.

To his sur­prise, Hartshorn found that he really enjoyed this sort of pho­tog­ra­phy. With the demand for his por­trait work increas­ing, he backed off from his fash­ion work to con­cen­trate fully on the airy sun-​filled stu­dio in the Monroe Arts Centre, where gleam­ing, golden hard­wood floors, high ceil­ings and large indus­trial win­dows cap­tured essence of his style. “I put my own stamp on the genre by bring­ing the high-​end style of fash­ion shoots to the inti­mate feel of fam­ily por­traits,” he says. He attrib­utes his suc­cess to a “fresh set of eyes not bogged down with knowl­edge of a tra­di­tional por­trait stu­dio. Making my own rules and break­ing them con­stantly works for me and my clients.” He recounts with a grin, “I like to be spon­ta­neous; each fam­ily or child is unique so each shoot is com­pletely unique to them.” This allows me to “cap­ture the fam­ily rela­tion­ship in all its inti­macy and hon­esty. I believe that really great shots are unex­pected and undirected.”

Kids force me to shoot more spon­ta­neously, take more risks, cam­era angles from up high or floor level, knee level even to cap­ture these lit­tle bal­leri­nas and soc­cer stars as they dance and prance. 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.” he says.

Mac’s deci­sion to pho­to­graph with nat­ural light in the stu­dio and his edi­to­r­ial style set him apart. Over the years, his client list has grown and spread through­out New Jersey and New York, with clients return­ing year after year for mag­i­cal hol­i­day shoots or to record impor­tant fam­ily mile­stones. Over the years, cher­ished friend­ships have blos­somed as these clients return year after year.

Summer finds the Hartshorn fam­ily week­end­ing at the Jersey Shore, with Jennifer and the girls based in Bay Head while Mac shoots clients at sun­rise and sun­set. Possibly Mac’s favorite loca­tion, “these beach images tran­scend as the moods of sky and ocean pro­vide an ever-​changing back­drop filled with liq­uid golden light or wreathed in soft dreamy mists.”

He feels the work he does now evokes an impor­tant emo­tional response from his clients that will last for­ever and may be trea­sured by gen­er­a­tions to come. “When mom and dad break down in tears I know I’ve hit it.”