2022 Exum Family Christmas Card

The Empty Nest

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the Empty Nesters, Molly & Steve, along with Cooper & Obi, Bella who is a 3rd year at the Institute of the Arts Barcelona & Sawyer who just completed a semester studying in Hawaii & will attend NC State in January!

By Molly Exum

Approaching empty nesting was the hard part. The grief & nostalgia for a family lifestyle that was coming to an end broke my heart some days because I loved every single second we shared under the same roof & in the same car & in the same time zone! Then the end actually came and we realized it was really a beginning. Sure, I want to hold my babies again & hear the pitter patter of their feet & pack them up in the car & just have them near me. At the same time, we’re so proud of their independence & sense of adventure. Bella and Sawyer’s stories are just beginning and Steve and I have a front row seat… if only virtual at times.

We’re thankful for each & every day we get to spend with family & friends & we’re especially thankful for time spent with Bella & Sawyer (super thankful for FaceTime too!).

Wishing you and yours a joyful holiday season surrounded by the ones you love!

Molly, Steve, Bella, Sawyer, Cooper & Obi


Bella in Sitges, Spain  


Sawyer in Hawaii 

Molly’s behind the scenes 2022 Christmas card pitch video sent to Bella & Sawyer.

Molly Exum – Copy Writer
Steve Exum  – Photographer
Sawyer Exum – Surfer
Bella Exum – Dancer
Cooper Exum – Beach Bum Pup
Obi Exum – Beach Bum Pup
Rodney Hogan & Rob Edwards – Card Designers 


 Thank you for your continued support and friendship. We hope you enjoy the Exum Family Christmas card and keep a check on our website and blog in the coming year.

2021 Exum Family Christmas Card

Christmas Tree in Roaring Gap

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 

By Molly Exum

Feeling a little nostalgic like many of us do this time of year as I look back at Christmases past and remember the excitement of Christmas mornings with little ones, cherished traditions that live on and ones we’ve had to let go, loved ones we’ve lost and the many blessings of each Christmas Season. I’ve loved every minute of every stage of our children’s lives and remaking our 2008 Christmas Card was not just a reminder of all the precious memories behind us but also a joyful glimpse into the next stage of our lives with adult children—a reminder to live in the present with open hearts and open minds as we make new memories and new traditions. Bella and Sawyer were barely 6 & 4 years old the first time we bought a tree on a lot and drove it to the Blue Ridge Parkway where we then hiked it to the top of a mountain to make it look like we cut the tree down in the mountains all for a Christmas card photo. They are now 20 & 18 years old and a lot has changed. A few things remain the same though—they still go along with our crazy ideas, they still think we’re crazy and none of us would have it any other way.

May your Christmas Season be filled with joyful memories, old & new,
Molly, Steve, Bella & Sawyer Murphy & Cooper


Original photograph by Joey Seawell shot in December 2008 when Bella was 4 and Sawyer was 6 near Roaring Gap at Doughton Park off the Blue Ridge Parkway.


Molly Exum – Copy Writer, Tree Carrier
Steve Exum – Tree Carrier w/Axe
Sawyer Exum – Walker 
Bella Exum – Walker 
Murphy Exum – Runner 
Cooper Exum – Runner 
 Joey Seawell – Photographer
Rodney Hogan – Card Designer 
 Llorenҫ Fernández Güell – Assistant in Spirit

Murphy has been with us for nearly 13 years and always a super active dog. In late August he was diagnosed with nasal cancer and the tumor has taken it s toll. It’s Christmas Day and as we write this email he is still with us thankfully. Getting Murphy to our shooting location on a mountain top off the Blue Ridge Parkway required the little blue wagon on loan from our neighbor. (Thank you Lori Frank, and all our neighbors that offered their wagons when we were in need: Joel and Dana Martin, John Falker, Andrea Saurage and Mitch & Denise Jacob)


Many, many thanks to Joey Seawell for not only taking the original photo but for coming back for the redo 14 years later. Thank you for your continued support and friendship. We hope you enjoy the Exum Family Christmas card and keep a check on our website and blog in the coming year.


Surf, Sand & Southern Tide

Exum Photography was responsible for the off-model photography for a spring mailer. This catalog features multiple spreads with a lifestyle shot of a model next to a studio product-only shot of their clothing professional styled and lit by Exum Photography.  While the models worked on a photo shoot in Bermuda we created our lay flat scenes with Bermuda inspired colors and props. I especially like the shot of bathing suits lying across a borrowed surfboard donated by my friend and Broughton High School 1988 classmate Wes Craft of Custom Craft Surfboards If you are in the market for a custom surfboard reach out to Wes. To see more samples of similar work please check out the Apparel Photography services page.


Take a Break With Johnnie-O

Great product photography of clothing helps sell great clothing brands.  Johnnie-O appreciates the impact of professionally styled lay flat clothing photography alongside inspirational lifestyle shots of models wearing their brand.  Exum Photography was responsible for the off-model and some select on-model photography for Johnnie-O’s latest summer and spring mailers. This catalog features multiple spreads with a studio-product-only shot of their clothing professional styled and lit by Exum Photography, next to a lifestyle shot of a model.  Our studio partners with talented apparel stylists who understand the nuanced skill of styling for lay flat clothing photography. We created our flat lay scenes with bright yet relaxed California-inspired colors and props, designed to complement the models’ photo shoot in California.  One of our favorite shots was when AstroTurf and golf accessories were laid behind the clothes to emulate a putting green! To see more samples of similar work please check out the Apparel Photography services page.


Southern Tide Holiday Catalog

Commercial photography studio Exum Photography partnered with this clothing brand out of South Carolina to produce the studio product photography to create a holiday catalog. The catalog features roughly a dozen spreads with a lifestyle shot of a model next to a studio product-only shot.  Commercial photographer Steve Exum and his team partner with talented apparel stylists who understand the nuanced skill of stying for lay flat and tabletop clothing photography. The studio is located in Elon, North Carolina between Raleigh and Greensboro. To see samples of similar work please check out the Apparel Photography services page.

2020 Exum Family Christmas Card

Putting 2020 in the Rear View Mirror

Merry Christmas and a Hopeful New Year 

By Molly Exum

2020 has been hard for all of us — full of pain & loss for so many of our friends & family. My Dad passed away January 4, 2020. We lost one of my Mom’s younger brothers, our beloved Uncle David, in October. We haven’t been able to gather, visit, grieve, worship or celebrate together. And while we yearn to be together again, our current political climate seems to distance us even further. It has been gut-wrenching & heartbreaking. I miss hugging & traveling & potlucks. I miss the very idea of going to a sold out concert, musical or football game. I. Miss. All. The. Things. I miss truth & civil discourse. I miss compassionate leaders who welcome different voices, opinions & ideas & who know that freedom of the press is the lifeblood of a democracy. We all miss Papa & Uncle David. We are all weary.

But when I take a moment to look closely, I see so much good in the world. I see people putting aside their political disagreements & working together to help neighbors who have lost their jobs or their homes, to help a mom pay for internet so her children can attend school via zoom & to help families during Christmastime. I see God at work. I’m thankful for the extra time Steve, Bella, Sawyer, Murphy & our new puppy, Cooper, have been able to spend together at home. I’m hopeful & grateful for each new sunrise. And I will forever be thankful for those working on the frontlines who put others before themselves every single day.

God bless you all & may we all enter 2021 with a thrill of hope & open hearts full of joy, gratitude & goodwill. We’re all in this together.

Merry Christmas from Molly, Steve, Bella, Sawyer, Murphy & Cooper


Molly Exum – Family Wrangler 
Sawyer Exum – TP Tosser 
Bella Exum – Filmmaker 
Steve Exum – Photographer & Jeep Wrangler 
Murphy Exum – Co-pilot 
Cooper Exum – Co-Co-pilot 
 Rodney Hogan – Assistant Photographer 
 Rob Edwards – Illustrator  
Bella Martin -Body Double
 Rafe Grimball – Assistant 
 Oscar Vital – Assistant 
Nell Geer – Assistant 
Thank you to Carl Wilburn for loaning us the 1984 Jeep CJ7    

This year we wanted to produce a card that  encompassed much of 2020 visually, was hopeful for the future and inspiring. The card is truthful and meaningful to us while maintaining a quirky zanniness that is very Exum. Our team at Exum Photography wishes you peace, joy and prosperity throughout the coming year. Thank you for your continued support and friendship. We hope you enjoy the Exum Family Christmas card and keep a check on our website and blog in the coming year.

2019 Exum Family Christmas Card

Our team at Exum Photography wishes you peace, joy and prosperity throughout the coming year. Thank you for your continued support and friendship. We hope you enjoy the Exum Family Christmas card and keep a check on our website and blog in the coming year.

Merry Christmas from the Exums

Our studio is excited to present the 2019 Exum Family Christmas Card. Every year Molly, Bella, Sawyer, my studio team and I struggle to settle on the idea for our card. This idea began for me with a simple concept of having everything in white. I wanted our clothes in white, the setting in white and possibly just pops of color. We like adventure and we are planning to go skiing soon so Molly and I tossed around the idea of skiing down a mountain. I had a very rough idea in my head. I reached out to my friend Rob Edwards of Prairie Dog Illustrations who is a talented graphic designer and superb illustrator to put my idea into a sketch. I’ve included Rob’s original sketch in this post. Rob nailed it with the avalanche theme. I worked on sourcing props and clothing and we set a date to shoot this in the studio. Two days before the shoot there were NO Christmas trees for sale yet in Burlington. So the day before the shoot I drove up to West Jefferson and sourced a tree in the dark of night. The rest of this story is best told in these photos and Molly’s thoughtful prose on the back of the card. Please note, many of you received a hard copy in the mail. If you have the hard copy in hand, I challenge you to spot the spelling error. It’s glaring and we’ll I’m embarrassed and beg you forgive the miss. In the chaos of getting this card to the printer and the MOUNTAIN of other responsibilities knocked out this month we totally missed a pretty important central word in the message. Challenge is set. Try to find it. You’re welcome to publicly humiliate me here as it’s worth a good laugh. You can even screen capture and add to your comments in the post. First one to find it and reveal the misspelled word wins the challenge.

Life is truly an adventure that at times seems uncontrollably chaotic and we just have to hold tight with faith and a sense of humor. Hope this card makes you smile. We are blessed and grateful for friends like you.

From Molly … “Sometimes it feels like everything is coming at us all at once. We have a mountain of responsibilities, uncertainties, hardships & heartaches we’re dealing with, & we’re all trying to keep that mountain from wiping us out.

In the middle of the mayhem, Steve & I are grateful for the adventure in each new day, the beauty & wonder of this world, for precious time spent with family & friends, for hope, for the glorious roller coaster of being parents to 2 teenagers, Bella & Sawyer, & for God’s love & mercy.

May we all seek & find moments of peace, gratitude & joy amid the chaos.

Note: That “moment” on the front of this card was not as peaceful as the picture may seem but we are grateful for the “joyful” banter we shared in the making of this card.

Seek & ye shall find. God Bless & Merry Christmas to All!”

Molly, Steve, Bella, Sawyer & Murphy

Bella Exum – Garland Wrangler
Sawyer Exum – Ribbon Wrangler
Steve Exum –  Photographer & Tree Wrangler
Murphy Exum – Slope Expert
Molly Exum – Poet & Family Wrangler
Rodney Hogan – Assistant Photographer
Rob Edwards – Graphic Designer
Matt Bell – Set Design Assistant
Rafe Grimball – Set Design Assistant
Thank you to Bullet of C&R Outdoor Shop in Elon for supplying ski and snowboard props!

Client Spotlight: Carolina Eye Prosthetics

Christmas Card Cover

Carolina Eye Prosthetics strives to provide the best eye prosthesis available in the Southeast. Located in Burlington NC, they take great care in properly fitting the prosthesis and hand painting it to match its companion eye. Carolina Eye Prosthetics can fabricate a prosthesis to fit comfortably over an existing blind eye (a corneal scleral shell) and provide other prostheses such as custom conformers for those too young to be fitted with their first artificial eye.

Card Interior

Exum Photography had the privilege of working with Carolina Eye Prosthetics on their 2019 Christmas Card. This holiday marketing piece goes to all of their referring medical professionals. We began with the beloved Christmas story of the Polar Express which has captured imaginations for decades. Our studio partnered with illustrator Rob Edwards of Praire Dog Productions who took an idea conceived by photographer Steve Exum and created a mock-up. The staff from Carolina Eye Prosthetics helped source wardrobe and props. Makeup artists Herita Jones and Jennifer McCollom contributed their magic on the day of the shoot.

Fifi, the customer greeter dog at Carolina Eye and Murphy, the studio greeter dog at Exum Photography, did their best to keep everyone entertained during the shoot. Each staff member was photographed in costume under lighting designed to mimic the train car that would be surrounding them. After the posed photographs were complete, images were carefully animated by studio graphic designer Rodney Hogan and integrated into our train car image design by illustrator Rob Edwards. The first image above is the front of the holiday card and the second image is the interior. Stay tuned for another holiday card featuring the Exum family that will publish next week. 

A fantastic amount of effort went in to bringing our rough sketch to life!

2018 Exum Family Christmas Card | Behind The Scenes

Our team at Exum Photography wishes you peace, joy and prosperity throughout the coming year. Thank you for your continued support and friendship. We hope you enjoy the Exum Family Christmas card and keep a check on our website and blog in the coming year.

The Exum family of Elon, North Carolina and staff at Exum Photography give you our 2018 Exum Family Christmas Card – ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas! Merry Christmas to you our friends, family and partners. Enjoy!

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care & that’s about 
all we had managed to finish there.
We still had presents to wrap, a tree to trim & a ceiling to repair.

Bella & Sawyer wanted to watch Netflix all cozy in their beds,
but they were stuck with their parents trying to frantically save Christmas instead.
And I, cloaked in denial & Steve covered in pinesap
realized there’s no way we’d be settling in by the fire with a nightcap.

Thankfully, before it got too late & all our visions were shattered,
we remembered the heart of the matter.
When what to our wondering eyes should appear
but the meaning of Christmas we all hold so 

So with our family together on this special night,
I wasn’t going to give up the good fight.
More rapid than our internet connection my family they came
as I whistled & shouted & called them by name;

Now, Bella! Now, Sawyer! On, Murphy & Steve!
All we have to do now is believe!
Well, & hide the clutter in a closet & wrap the tree in twinkling splendor.
This WILL be a Christmas to remember!

They spoke not a word & went straight to work.
No one even gave me so much as a smirk.
And as we now sit by the fire gazing at our half-decorated tree
among all the chaos & debris,

we drop our illusions of Christmas perfection
& we thank God for our family, friends,
Jesus & the Immaculate Conception. (I mean, wow!)
But before we forget & lose sight,
Merry Christmas to all & to all a good night!

The Exums – Steve, Molly, Bella, Sawyer & Murphy

Molly Exum– Poet & Peace Keeper
Steve Exum– Tree Cutter
Bella Exum– Wrapper
Sawyer Exum– Light Hanger 
Murphy Exum– Wrapper Assistant
Nathan Richards– Photographer 
Kelsey Flowers– Graphic Designer & Video Editor 
Squeaky Hensley– Set Stylist
Amber Honeycutt– Cookie Baker
Misty Hensley – Prop Shopper 
Mark Hensley– Prop Shopper
 Marcus Hensley– Tree Cutter Stand-In 
Tori Hensley– Light Hanger Stand-In

What Did The Bride Say?

Steve did an amazing job telling the story of our wedding journey. He is very professional, but more importantly, he is relational with his clients. Our engagement session was one of our favorite memories due to the way Steve gave us comfort and laughter behind the camera. Steve also went above and beyond to provide a special memory for me and my mom when he took bridal portraits. For the portraits, Steve took his time and paid close attention to detail to capture wonderful shots. Steve even worked around his schedule to pull off bridal portraits in time due to rainy weather. Last but not least, Steve is an amazing wedding day photographer. My favorite part of Steve’s services includes a slideshow that he pulls together the day of the wedding which displays images during the exit of the wedding. I didn’t cry a drop since the wedding ceremony began, but I was in a puddle of happy tears once the slideshow began playing at the end of the night. I highly recommend Steve Exum and team for your wedding photography choice!