Arizona, Personal, Summer

Arizona June 2021 | Hazelton Family Adventures

Hi, I'm Kristen!
I'm an award-winning senior portrait and family photographer based out of Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area. I love sunshine, cacti, chocolate chips, and a great cup of tea - but most of all I love photographing joyful clients. :)
TOp categories
Classy and comfortable senior portraits!
Relaxed and easy family portraits. and stunning artwork
Tucson, AZ sunset with saguaro silhouette

I’m so excited to share some gorgeous photos from our trip to Arizona earlier this summer! The light was stunning, the plants were stunning, the people were stunning, and the burritos were stunning. ?

As always when we visit, the instant golden hour starts I get positively itchy with the need to grab my camera because the light is so beautiful. It’s also frankly been a fun personal benchmark for me: since I upgraded to a full-frame DSLR we’ve visited Arizona three times, and each time it’s fun to see how much my work has grown as I’ve practiced more and more. 🙂

Residential landscaping (yes really!!) portraits

Golden hour portraits of a young boy in Tucson, AZ with cacti

My little guy wanted to go for a walk and was willing(!) to model for me! I’m so pleased to have some beautiful photos of him in this beautiful state!

Young boy in Tucson, AZ at sunset
Saguaro at golden hour in Tucson, AZ

He wanted a photo “with mama” so this is what I was able to pull off. ?

Purple prickly pear and ocotillo

The plants! The flowers!! On the left is a stunning Opuntia (prickly pear). It’s purple in color but I think that’s just because it’s water-starved; on our last trip to AZ my husband and I took succulent and cacti cuttings from the area (and packed them and took them home in our checked luggage…what do you think TSA thought of the “booby trap”?!) and this Opuntia cutting never turned purple for us. On the right is an Ocotillo!

Saguaro and purple prickly pear close up photos

Saguaro and Opuntia. The last time I was in AZ (which was before I started my business) I had a Nikon D750 and 24-120mm f/4. That combo worked well with the bright sun, but this time I was so excited to take photos with my newer equipment. I primarily used my 105mm macro and 85mm f/1.4 for these shots! Two good friends hyped me up – one said “you gotta take the macro!” the other said “you gotta photograph just for fun and for creativity’s sake!” Both had excellent advice. 🙂

fish hook golden barrel cactus

Barrel cactus; crazy slow-growing and oh-so-soft in the center…with fish hook spines underneath!

Ocotillo at sunset

Beautiful Ocotillo…with some flowers up top!

Sunset portrait of a man with cacti

Bug got tired of modeling for me so I called my husband and said “you gotta crouch RIGHT HERE!”

Pomegranate and hummingbird nesting on top of a wind chime

Baby pomegranate and a hummingbird’s silly nest location choice. ?

Sunrise in Tucson, AZ

Sunrise…Buttercup did not adjust to the time change the entire weeklong trip and got up at 4:30 AM.

Prickly pear cactus at sunrise

…but the light was gorgeous.

Tucson Botanical Gardens

Sunflowers and ocotillo fence at the Tucson Botanical Garden

If you’re ever in the area, the Tucson Botanical Gardens are STUNNING. So many beautiful plants, train sets, kids’ place to play, fountains…definitely worth a stop! On the left you can see a live Ocotillo fence!

Young boy looking at a fountain at the Tucson Botanical Garden
Cacti at the Tucson Botanical Garden

What’s this? A sea urchin in the desert?!

Father and baby daughter sitting at the Tucson Botanical Garden
Tucson Botanical Garden's cactus car. Yellow VW bug filled with cacti

How fun is this cacti car?!

Woman in cowboy hat posing next to Tucson Botanical Garden's cactus car
Mom holding laughing son
Family of four

thank you to my father-in-law for these shots!

Sunset Photos (still in residential landscaping!!)

Tucson desert family portraits of a dad holding his baby daughter by photographer Kristen Hazelton

That light! That glow! ? I may have looked up houses on Zillow after this shoot.

Tucson desert family portraits of a dad holding his baby daughter by photographer Kristen Hazelton

Teddy bear cholla! Sounds cute but this bugger breaks off at each node and is a pain in the butt to remove. Ask my husband how he knows.

Tucson desert family portraits of a dad holding his baby daughter by photographer Kristen Hazelton
Tucson desert family portraits of a dad holding his baby daughter by photographer Kristen Hazelton
Agave against a bright pink wall

Just walking around the neighborhood in the morning. 🙂

Agave and olive tree

A pretty line of Agave and an olive tree!

Tubac, AZ

art gallery in Tubac, AZ

This was my first trip to the artist community of Tubac, Arizona, south of Tucson! There were so many pretty craft shops, high-end art galleries, ceramics, wind chimes, yard art…lots of fun things to see here!

wind chime store in Tubac, AZ

Including the shop of Ten Thousand Wind Chimes.

mural in Tubac, AZ
Organ pipe fountain outside of Cobalt Gallery in Tubac, AZ

Fancy Victorian-styled details on an art gallery, and Bug admiring a really neat organ-pipe cactus FOUNTAIN (ceramic, obvs, with water fountaining out the top of each “pipe”)!

Kinetic yard sculptures in Tubac, AZ

Yard art and kinetic sculptures…and 110 degree weather…

out of focus palm tree

Back at home base we checked out the pool! And by “we” I mean “my family” and by “checked out the pool” I mean “they swam and I played with taking deliberately out of focus photos.”

Barrel cactus and yucca
Palm trees and agaves

Playing around with pushing the abilities of my new camera’s sensor. I’m photographing these in full sun f/1.4, ISO LO, SS 1/8000. Full sun bokeh!! I love it!!

Palm trees

Long exposure to get some wind movement in the palm fronds…and deliberately out of focus.

Sunset in Tucson, AZ

One final stunning sunset! If you got to the end, thanks for sticking around to see all the prettiness! It was so good to see family, enjoy the sunshine and warm weather, and practice new photography techniques just for fun. 🙂

Kristen Hazelton is an Oak Park, IL (Chicago, IL metro area) and Livermore, CA (San Francisco East Bay Area) senior, family, and engagement photographer. She occasionally photographs in San Diego, CA, Tucson, AZ, and Seattle, WA. You can inquire about your own photoshoot here!

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