Osland Family Desert Photo Shoot

As a portrait photographer, I love the feeling I get when that perfect photo moment happens—the lighting is magical, the background frames the shot just so, and the smiles and personality of the people I’m working with shine. There’s a knowing when that happens, and a little jolt of excitement shoots up my arms.

Still, my favorite part of the commercial and family photography I do is connecting with people and bringing to life their own vision for what they want to remember about who they are through photography.

I recently had the opportunity to meet Jen Osland and her family. I photograph so many Notre Dame families like Jen’s, and have had an opportunity to do several senior pictures for Notre Dame Prep students. I love all of them. Without exception, every one of them has shared moments with me I will always remember.

Jen’s daughter Hanna graduated from Notre Dame this year and will be heading off to college soon. I understood from my own experiences how fast life flies by, and pivotal times like graduations tend to make all of us want to hold on to the moments we can. Before Hanna left, she wanted to do a family portrait near their North Scottsdale home.

I met with Jen to go over the shoot and to get to know her beforehand. This is always an important step for me because what I do is less about taking pictures than creating a reflection of who someone is. It also gives me an opportunity to talk about clothing and locations, and to make sure that everything comes together in the best way possible.

Jen was wonderful, and so were her children. Through jokes and knowing grins, it was clear that they all had such big love for each other.

Based on everything I learned, I suggested a sunset shoot in the desert during that “golden hour” when the sky seems to glow and the shadows are dramatic and long. It’s my favorite time to spend time in our Sonoran wonderland, and I knew it would provide the perfect colors and setting for this beautiful family. Jen agreed, and we were set.

The evening of the shoot went off without a hitch, and the clothes they chose were ideal both because of the colors they chose, and because they really expressed who they are as individuals. It was great fun, too, especially because watching them interact with each other brought a smile to my face.

I couldn’t help but grin more as I processed and edited the shots. They came out beautifully, but more importantly, I felt like I was able to capture their moment in time and reflect the beauty in it. Jen and her family agreed, and after taking some time to measure their entrance wall, together we put together an entire wall of framed floating canvases. It looks stunning, and it’s a modern but elegant way to show off family portraits.



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