Friday, January 31, 2014

Birthday Party Formation! | Personal | Fort Bragg, N.C. Photographer

So, as I prepare to get my littlest's first birthday party rolling ... I realized I needed to blog my eldest's 7th birthday party. I mean, shoot ... he's only going to be 8 in FOUR months! (this blog has been back dated so as not to throw off my blog time lines!) haha! I find that personal images get pushed to the side in editing when I have paying clients waiting for their images. I really need to get better at not waiting so long in editing my OWN images so that I too can smile and remember my memories!


My son is all about the military. I mean, can you blame him? Both Great Grandads are Vets, two of his grandparents are Vets, and then there's of course my husband and myself ... we're service members as well! Of course my son wants to join the military and become a "military police cop."

This year's birthday theme went the camo route. No superheroes this year (though he wanted to throw Captain America in the cake because "he's a soldier too!") Haha! I love my boy!


We also decided to do something way different as well ... go ice skating! Being in the South, not many children (or adults for that matter) haven't ice skated before or it has been YEARS since they had. Fort Bragg has an awesome (and the only) "public" indoor ice skating rink. My son learned to skate around 4 years old here and has loved it ever since ... even though his hopes of being a hockey player shattered when he found out he had to wear lots of heavy protective gear. (My skinny lil' boy would probably curl up in the fetal position during games!) But that doesn't stop us from being huge hockey fans!! ;-)

Being the mom I am, I wanted to do everything myself. (God help me with my littlest's party!) I found cheap camp plates and napkins at Party City and used a plain brown plastic table cloth. I also used burlap to add a lil' army flair to the table set up. I grabbed camo balloons and mixed it up with green "7" balloons and plain green and black balloons. 

I was going to get the cheap lil' army helmets from Party City as well but they were flimsy and when I found these much more sturdy hard plastic covered with fabric at the Dollar Tree ... I knew which one would be better! (And cheaper believe it or not! ... 11 hats = $11) Not bad at all.

See, my goal here was to have one of those gorgeous parties that you read on party planning blogs ... but for under $300. 


I made party goodie bags outta brown sack lunch bags and filled them with lil' army trinkets and goodies. I printed off the thank you cards (bottom of this blog), the goodie bag design and water bottle "hydration" labels from my computer. I found a free camo background, free army styled lettering and made them all myself. Did you know Pinterst also has a way for you to search water bottle label dimensions?! Yup! Pretty cool right?!

I also made lil' "orders that the front desk handed out to party guests to help them know where we were in the building and what they needed to do! ;-) Just a fun lil' addition to the experience.

It's basically tradition now that I make the cakes for my son ... now SONS. :-) The only cakes I didn't make for my eldest was his first and second... all others ...all me. So, of course I had to make this one. With Pinterest inspiration ... I came up with one small cake and cupcakes for the other children.

Those cute cupcake toppers? My design.  I made them on 2inch circles (big enough for my circle scrapbook hole punch) and taped them to toothpicks! It's amazing what sort of FREE graphics you find on Google! I also found HUGE army men, so my son's favorite from the bunch went on top as a cake topper as well as a huge cardboard seven spray painted black. My husband made dog tags for my son a while back because he always saw us wearing them in uniform and he wanted a set for himself ... so why not put those on top too?!

Only thing I missed? Having one of my 4 photographer guests/friends take pictures of my son and I on the ice rink or even in the party pics at all! We didn't get a family shot at all until we were loading up the car to leave and we selfied it up in the parking lot ... notice how none of THOSE pictures are on this blog! ;-) People, hire a photographer for your events! It takes the stress off of you and you can relax. I was running around making sure the party was going smoothly, the guests were having fun, snapping pictures and oh yeah, wanting to skate with my boy! (the above picture is an iPhone pic!)

At home my son opened all his presents ... apparently every one knows my son well. All gifts were military themed or gift cards for his Nook. ;-) He made out like a bandit even though I said no gifts were necessary ... he's got so much stuff as is!

But he sure did enjoy himself and the gifts, he slept like a rock that night! ... helmet and all.

Grand total for the party was just a TAD over $300 only because we paid for myself to ice skate as well as two extra kids. The biggest expense was the venue, decor and cake (since I didn't feed the kids, just sugar ...) was no more than $175. I think I did pretty good! Now to see what I finagle with the littlest's party! ;-)

What is the going rate now-a-days for birthday parties? (Update: after Googling this question, the consensus is between $200 -$400!! Crazy right? I mean, there are exceptions. Some people claim to only spend $100 or less ... home parties with cake and no decorations, or very little. Other's have claimed to spend over $1000! On just a regular party! This isn't your Sweet 16 we are talking about now, just your regular, run of the mill party. But here's the thing, everyone who saved a buck, did the majority of the hard work. THAT'S the key to saving money. A lil' hard work pays off!)

Some prep work ... Instagram photos! All goodies came from Dollar Tree and most were in multi-packs so I was able to pull apart the packaging and take care of two kids with one play pack of army goodies! ;-) Water was Sams Choice. Carmel popcorn, two boxes and broke down into plastic baggies  to put inside the goodie bags. I stayed away from candy, as I know how my child acts with sweets ... soooo ... didn't want to spread the hyperness. haha!

** Please remember that all images are copyrighted to Sharilyn Wells Photography, LLC. Please do not copy or alter any images without SWP, LLC consent. ***

Complete Once More | Military Homecoming | Fort Bragg, N.C. Photographer

You know there's really nothing better than photographing a military homecoming. I think since I've been in these women's (and men's) shoes, I know how that feeling is when you see your loved one step off that plane. I know how nervous you are. I know the happy tingling that surges through your body and I know that this moment is incredibly and utterly FANTASTIC. That is why I am there to photograph every second of it!

How cute are her red shoes? And lil' man? I am in love with his suspenders and bow tie!

I've seen this look many times. I've had this look myself … four times now. It's the feeling of anticipation. You see your loved one standing in formation, just an arms length away and all you can think about is running into his (or her) arms. It's fantastic and I love this photo!

And there it is. They are released to their families and you finally get to touch him. You finally get to hug him, you finally get to kiss him and your child(ren) get to hug him. BEST. FEELING. EVER.

 The weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders. He's home and he's safe. You are a complete family once more.

 Let me photograph your military homecoming … let me get every happy moment, let me capture life as it happens! For more information on homecomings, email

*** Please remember that all images are copyrighted to Sharilyn Wells Photography, LLC. Please do not copy or alter any images without SWP, LLC consent. ***

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How Sweet It Is | Wedding | Fort Bragg, N.C. Photographer

So, I wanted to announce that I have partnered up with another local photographer to offer something unique to brides and grooms in the Fayetteville and surrounding areas. When you book a wedding with me, you're not only getting me, but you're getting another PROFESSIONAL photographer to help capture every single moment of your special day.

Amber from Amber Fite Photography is AWESOME at portraiture and adds an excellent, creative feel to my photojournalistic images. So not only am I capturing those "in the moment" shots, she's capturing flattering portraits of you as well! Every little detail that you want will be captured while we are on the job!

Well, anyway, let's talk about this vow renewal!  Check out this beautiful cake made by Steve's Sweet Treats!  LOVE!

These two love birds have been married for 18 years and she never got her fairy tale wedding. Well, she finally got it and it was gorgeous! The ceremony was small … and by small, I mean, the chaplain, the bride, the groom, and their daughter. So intimate and oh so special!

 You could just feel the love that was in the Main Post Chapel on Fort Bragg. And their daughter was just the sweetest thing! Not many children can say they witnessed their parents wedding day. She sat quietly in the first pew and wiped tears of joy from her eyes. It was such a sight! You'll have to visit Amber's blog/Facebook page to see those sweet images!

The Main Post Chapel on Fort Bragg is just so pretty inside! We had to take advantage of the wooden stair case after the ceremony. And then of course we headed outside for some formals of the family ...

I absolutely love the historic area of Fort Bragg … this road always reminds me of Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With the Wind. It's just so pretty! (Oh! And there was a van in the picture, but I edited it out) ;-)

And of course, the chapel is just as pretty outside as it is inside. Congrats to this lovely couple and here's to 30 more years!

To enquire about wedding packages and book Amber and I, email:

*** Please remember that all images are copyrighted to Sharilyn Wells Photography, LLC. Please do not copy or alter any images without SWP, LLC consent. ***

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Letter Art | Pinterest Thursday | iPhoneography

A couple months ago … Before I found I was pregnant, I finally mounted my family pictures in a Pinterest Thursday special you can find HERE.  Well, low and behold, I got pregnant and my "up-to-date" portraits were now out of date. So I ordered a newborn pic of my littlest and added him to the family wall. My gallery was complete… or was it? I STILL hadn't done anything with my ugly "W." It was the same ugly brown papery thing that it was when I bought it years (I'm sure it was that long ago) ago. I got passed step one, hanging the darn thing. But it still had it's craft sticker on it. People would ask about it every time they'd visit. Then cam step two, take off the sticker, pictured here. Two months later, I finally did something about the ugliness.

See, the hard part was figuring out what I wanted to do with it. Every time I came across an idea on Pinterest, my vision changed. When I bought the thing THIS is what I had in mind. Then I saw THIS. Then THIS. Then, of course THIS.  Eventually, I just stopped pinning ideas. Then, a few days ago I got fed up with the ugliness. I remembered seeing a pin with yarn, thread, SOMETHING wrapped around the letter and I thought to myself, "I'm doing that."  So, I did.

My littlest sat in his Bumbo, and I worked for about 30 mins… I got interrupted by a very bored littlest. ;-) Bsaically, I found left over string in my craft closet, grabbed my glue gun and scissors, and had at it. I wrapped a while, place a small line of glue then wrap some more. This is yet another craft that didn't cost me anything extra. I mean shoot, I have aTON of supplies hiding around the house. I just have to find them!

A "W" is tricky, and if you look REAL close, you'll see some screw ups. But all in all the wrapped piece was pretty easy and came out great. Once it was wrapped, I felt it looked blah, so I added the flowers. I clipped a few from a bouquet I have in the family room and glued them on.

And, viola! My gallery is complete! And if I do say so myself, it's looking pretty good! Now I have to update the family portrait to show all four of us!

Don't forget to:
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All my  photos were taken with an iPhone and copyrighted by SWP.
*** Please remember that all images are copyrighted to Sharilyn Wells Photography, LLC. Please do not copy or alter any images without SWP, LLC consent. ***

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Momma's heart | Personal | Fayetteville, N.C. Photographer

This lil' bugger. He's got my heart wrapped around his little finger. Three months old and already making my heart melt. <3 I love his lil' smiles and his giggles.

Yes, I'm showing off my littlest, but I also wanted to show you were my photography is heading. I want to focus more on capturing the memories of every day life. This was in between me rushing to get dressed for my eldest's birthday dinner and dressing the baby. Is it perfect? No, I missed focus. But look at that giggle I got. Pure joy on his face and it brings happy tears to my eyes. It's about capturing that moment and keeping it forever.

Looks like someone got his first freckle! Do you see it? On his right nostril. <3 I hope he keeps his blue eyes. My eldest has brown (like his daddy). I want this lil' one to have my eyes.

The most simplest backdrop. My bed. I always gawked at the beautiful bedrooms some of my favorite lifestyle photographers got to shoot in. I always shook my head and said, "My room would never look like that." "My bed isn't that pretty." "There's no way." But look what a 50mm lens, proper white balance and great exposure can do. My brown comforter looks awesome … I won't tell you how it REALLY looks. ;-)

Him and his fingers. I just heart him.

*** Please remember that all images are copyrighted to Sharilyn Wells Photography, LLC. Please do not copy or alter any images without SWP, LLC consent. ***