The Tharp Family | Real Life Session

We’ve had the privilege of being friends with the Tharp family for seven years. We first met and became close when we all lived in Wisconsin and attended church together. In October 2013, they felt God calling them to the Carolinas to pursue a longtime dream—to start a horse ranch ministry that would rescue horses, inspire children and give hope to families. We loved the opportunity to design the branding and ongoing marketing materials for their nonprofit, and even though they were far away, we always had the inside scoop on this wild adventure they were on. Little did we know, Chad and I would feel a similar call from the Lord a year later to move to the Carolinas as well! Now that we live only three hours apart, we try to see the Tharps as often as possible and help prepare the ranch whenever we can.

Recently, I jumped at the opportunity to document their family in this current season of their lives. Every family has a beautiful story worth documenting, no matter how chaotic or crazy it may seem to them. Months and years from now, looking back on this Real Life Session might just bring tears to their eyes as they reminisce the progress they’ve made together and the routines and interactions that will never be able to be duplicated outside of that season.

The Tharp Family story is inspiring. Devin is a dedicated father and is working full-time as a Youth Pastor in Charlotte. Tia is a loving mother, Executive Director of Bright Side Youth Ranch and is doing some work with kids on the side. Leyton is an inquisitive 9-year-old excelling in school, karate, Lego creations and soaking in anything pertaining to Star Wars. Brynley is a care-free 6-year-old in love with horses, anything pink, anything muddy and whatever the current activity surrounding her is. Lola is their little Jack Russell Terrier, who—although she is getting up there in age—is quite spirited. Paisley is the best farm dog they could ask for—she protects the kids, protects the perimeter, and is very much involved with all family happenings.

On top of juggling all of this, the ENTIRE family pitches in to prepare their 15-acre property for the opening of Bright Side Youth Ranch (hopefully this summer!). From clearing brush to cutting down trees, moving earth to digging holes for fencing, it’s quite the big undertaking, and the Tharps get LOTS of help from the some of most generous and hard-working volunteers in the Charlotte area.

As you can imagine, there was plenty going on at the Tharp house to document. Narrowing down to my very favorite photographs was a challenge! I hope you enjoy the image highlights from this Real Life Full Day Story as a glimpse into their current everyday life over the course of a Friday evening to a Saturday afternoon…

(If you're interested in documentary family photography like this, you can check out our Real Life Session page.)

Friday evening:

Saturday morning: