Utah Photographer specializing in Families, Newborns & Children.

Every session tells a story Recent Tales

Hike The Wave Coyote Buttes North – Utah and Arizona Hiking

We have so much snow today that the district cancelled school, it’s slightly chilly in my house no matter how much I bump up that thermostat and in order to avoid having to plow my driveway, I thought this would be the perfect time to write my blog about my amazing adventure to The Wave.

The Wave Utah Arizona

If you haven’t heard of the The Wave, it is this neat little bowl of wonder hidden just south of the Utah border in the Coyote Buttes North wilderness.  You have to have a permit because they want to limit the amount of damage to this fragile natural formation.  Only 20 individual permits are issued per day – 10 of them are awarded in an online lottery four months in advance and 10 are awarded in a walk in lottery one day in advance.  I had been applying online for several months, but didn’t have any luck, so when my hiking friends and I planned a hiking trip to southern Utah, I expressed my deep and very strong desire to try the walk in lottery, and they agreed!

The Wave in Arizona

I wasn’t prepared for how many people would show up for the walk in lottery, my heart did literal flips as the tiny Visitor’s Center in Kanab Utah filled up with people of all ages, all languages, and all with the same goal as me.  My hands were sweaty as I filled out the application form and waited to take our seats in the lottery room.  We sat in the front row – I hoped that I could channel my energy to the bingo cage and make it drop our assigned  number – 9. The rangers mentioned that they had purchased a new bingo cage, a shiny gold one, and they were trying to decide if they should use it.  My group – Carrie, Crystal, JuliAnne and I encouraged them to use the new cage, we felt that maybe it could be lucky. The first number to drop was 1 and that group took 5 permits. This wasn’t looking good as now there were only 5 permits left and I was with a group of 4. They rolled the cage again and the next number dropped. My heart was thumping out of my chest, I think I held my breath and then they announced the number – 9. We screamed, we squealed, we said things that we don’t remember saying. And I caught it all on video:

We got asked to stay behind as we were given instructions for preparing for the hike. We learned the history and were taught about the fragility of the environment. It was all so fascinating. 

We woke up the next day while it was still dark outside and made the two hour drive to the trailhead. To get to it, you have to drive on a dirt road for a ways.  We were given a pamphlet with pictures of the trail route. There are no trail markers or cairns, so we had to rely on certain instructions to find our way there. It got hot fast and the sand at times was difficult to walk in. We got our energy from our extreme excitement and soon enough, we saw our destination in the distance.  You can’t actually see The Wave from far back, but you can recognize the outside landscape from the pamphlet.  In order to actually see The Wave, you have to climb a sandy hill and then drop down into the bowl, round a corner, and then there it is in all it’s glory. It was a moment I will never forget.

Hiking to The Wave from Utah to Arizona

We barely spoke above a whisper at first as we were the only ones there and we wanted to preserve the sacred silence of the moment.  Seeing it in photos and actually being there are two very different things. The red and white stripes curve and flow in a mesmerizing pattern. It doesn’t seem natural, yet it is. There are swirls and lines and ripples like a disturbance in water.  The orangey-red color is unreal with strips of white weaved intricately throughout. There are tangible hard ridges that cast short shadows and add texture to the formation.  We stayed for a few hours, taking pictures, exploring and sitting in awe that we were actually there.  It was an experience that is number 1 on my list of favorite hikes. 

Classic photo of The Wave in Arizona Coyote Buttes North

After a while, a ranger showed up and offered to take pictures of us with my camera. I am so thankful to Brent Chamberlain for taking the time to capture everything we wanted and for helping us document this rare experience (all of the pictures of the 4 of us were taken by Brent).

Surfing The Wave in Arizona

We had to drive home that day, and we talked a lot about our adventure. We talked about our luck and what the hike meant to each of us.  We were so very grateful for the opportunity to explore this natural wonder.  And we were especially grateful for the solitude we were able to experience while there.

I loved it so much that I’ve applied for the online lottery every month since I got back. I haven’t won yet, but I find that patience and faith eventually pay off. 

Hike to The Wave
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Fall Photography Specials

Was your last family photo taken 3 kids ago? 

For the first time ever, I am offering a photography special for family photos!  If you’ve been meaning to update your family pictures but have been intimidated by the whole process, I’m here to help.
I love photographing families and want to photograph your family!

Utah family pictures with quadruplets by photographer Loni Smith

I have been photographing families for 8 years and especially love working with young children.  
I have a large family of my own,  so I understand the stress that comes with being a parent to 5 kids and trying to plan family photos, I can help you with that!
 I also understand that little ones have their own unique personalities that you want captured, so I aim to capture that in my photos. 

Family pictures taken by Utah photographer Loni Smith Photography

If you have a child getting ready to graduate and leave for college – now is the time to book!
If your family is finally complete – now is the time to book!
If your military spouse just got home – now is the time to book!
If you want really pretty family pictures – now is the time to book!

Family hug photos taken by Utah photographer Loni Smith Photography

If you don’t necessarily need family pictures, but need photos of your graduating senior, your two kids that are the best of friends, or your 6 year old with his best friend that’s a dog, well, then I’ll book that too. 

Picture of sisters in outdoors Utah taken by Loni Smith photography

Now for the details!

Session retainer due when booking your session – $199 + tax

The session retainer includes the consultation, session, up to 20 miles of travel, ordering and viewing appointment.  Prints and digitals are not included in the session retainer. 

Special packages available for purchase after your session:

$499 + tax
1 11×14 canvas or photographic print
15 digital images
10% off of additional print products

$799 + tax
1 16×24 canvas or photographic print or 8×8 book
25 digital images
10% off of additional print products

$1199 + tax
1 24×36 canvas or photographic print or 8×8 book
40 digital images
10% off of additional print products

These sessions will take place outdoors in the evenings and can only be booked on Mondays, Wednesdays or Thursdays through October 30th 2019. I will book up to two sessions a week.

These special prices can not be used for Animal Encounter sessions or Whimsical sessions (composites). For more information on these two types of sessions, click here.
They can also not be used for event photography. 

Head swaps can be made on your photos when possible, but heavy compositing (switching an entire person from one photo to another) will be charged an additional creative fee. 

In case of inclement weather, we will simply reschedule your session to a better day. 

The session retainer must be paid at the time of booking your session in order to reserve a spot on the schedule. I can take a credit card over the phone or send an invoice through email that must be paid within 12 hours. 

If you’re ready to book, contact me here!

Sessions are limited!  I will only take up to two sessions a week.

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Easy Peasy Portrait Sessions |Utah Photographer

Did you know I’m with you every step of the way?

You’re a busy person – I’ve learned this about you through my years of photographing children and families.   Perhaps you haven’t scheduled a family session for an embarrassing amount of years, not because you don’t care, but because the process is daunting.  There are so many decisions to make, outfits to buy, photos to print, frame and hang.  What if you had someone to help you with all of that? Would family photos seem possible then?

When you book a session with Loni Smith Photography, I am with you every step of the way.  I’m going to give you a breakdown of my process so you know what to expect and can breathe a sigh of relief that in the end, you’ll have expertly printed portraits in your home.

siblings brother and sister photography by Utah photographer Loni Smith

Step 1

My website is a wealth of information.  Browse for a few minutes on there to make sure that you love my photography style and check out my welcome guide for my frequently asked questions and pricing information here.

Step 2

Contact me! I can’t work with you if you don’t reach out, I want to help and I want you to have a wall gallery of your family just as much as you do. Shoot me an email at portraits@lonismithphotography.com  or call me at 385-429-0028.

Step 3

In person consultation or phone call.  I would love to meet you in person! You’re going to invest your hard earned money into heirloom quality wall art and albums, you definitely need to see what you’re investing in.  I prefer to schedule in person consultations at my studio so we can get to know each other and schedule a date for your session. Don’t know where you want to shoot?  I know a place you’ll love.  I will show you some beautiful, handpicked photo locations that I have found through hours of location scouting. Together, we decide on the best location for your family.  We also discuss wardrobe.  You will pay the session retainer at the time of booking your session, I make that easy for you by accepting cash, check, or card.  Do you live out of state? We could also do all of this over the phone.

little girl in blue dress taken by Utah children's photographer Loni Smith

Step 4

Assemble your wardrobe, I’m happy to help with this! Coordinating outfits can be exhausting,  I can make recommendations for color schemes and offer items from my personal studio wardrobe.  I truly do mean it when I tell you to send me photos of your outfits so we can build your family session wardrobe together.

Step 5

The photo session. Come to your session and prepare to show off your family’s amazing characteristics, talents and playful behavior.  Have fun, be ready to laugh and let me in on those tender moments with your kids.

Step 6

Preview Session. This is when you get to return to my studio and preview your unedited photos. I show you a wonderful collection of photos, and together, we narrow them down to your favorites.  If you have a hard time with decisions, I am there to help you decide which photos to print on your chosen print products. I can design an aesthetically pleasing wall arrangement using an actual photo of your wall and I also take care of the album design if you choose to purchase an album. I collect payment for your print products at this session.

Teenage girls portrait taken by Loni Smith Photography in Utah

Step 7

Approve my work on your photos. I professionally retouch and then upload your portraits into an easy to access password protected online gallery. If you ordered an album, I also upload the album design. When you love what you see, I then place the order with the printer. If you would like some changes, I take care of those until you’re happy and then I place the order with the printer.

Step 8

Display your photos.  As soon as I receive your products, I inspect them to make sure they are perfect.  But I don’t stop there! I then schedule a time to deliver them to your home.  I can also hang your wall arrangement if you ordered one.  If you are out of state, I package your order back up and ship it to you via priority mail.

family photo session with Utah photographer Loni Smith

Step 9

Enjoy your professional portraits for years to come! Your heart will swell and a tear will likely form at the corner of your eye, embrace those emotions! This is your legacy, proudly show off those photos to everyone that will look.

Ready to schedule a consultation? I’d love to meet with you! You can contact me here.

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Makin’ It Snappy: A Man’s Guide to Family Photo Shoots

Written by guest blogger Todd Smith

Are you a man embarking on a family photography session? If so, you are a stud. You are about to do something for your family that you’ll be proud of. I am a guy married to a photographer and she’s had us do family shoots frequently for years now. I’ve learned the secrets to a snappy photography session. By snappy, I mean the shoot is as brief and pleasant as possible.


Eat ahead of time or bring food to stave off your caveman hunger. Hunger and photo shoots are natural enemies; don’t mix them together. And make sure the rest of your tribe eats too. If you still want to use food bribery on your kids before the session, do it with dessert.


Ask the photographer what you can do to help…ask throughout the session. Don’t assume you know how to help, you paid a lot of money for someone else to be in charge today. The photographer doesn’t want to waste your time or theirs. Would you want some clown to come to your job site and assume they know how to “help” you?


Expect the experience to be as good as you make it. Nothing will influence the shoot more than your attitude, dude. Go into this knowing you will need to handle curve balls like misbehaving kids and on-the-fly changes. Misbehaving dads make the shoot slow and miserable for all involved. Don’t be that guy.


Smile when the camera is pointed at you. Really. If this is hard for you, just think back to the funniest thing you can remember. Imagine how funny as hell it was! If you do a celebrity mugshot impression, it won’t make you feel like you got your money’s worth.

Bonus tip…


Appreciate your kids. You’re a grown ass man, they are just kids and this was hard for them. Tell them how much you appreciate how good they did. Pour on the praise! You want them on your side for the next photo shoot, right?

There it is! I’ve told you my secrets for makin’ a shoot snappy! If you do the opposite, you’ll be sent sulking to the doghouse. And you know what I’m talking about. But if you apply my secrets, when the shoot is over, you’ll bask in glory.

Utah family photo session by Loni Smith Photography
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Adaley’s Session |Utah Newborn Photographer

Three Perfect Princesses

I have photographed Shellie’s family a few times over the past 5 years and have really enjoyed watching them grow. When she contacted me for a newborn session recently, I was ecstatic to find out that she would be adding another little princess to her family. Shellie is a lot like me in the way that she likes a vintage look, loves flowers and lace, and does not shy away from the color pink. Shellie lives in Idaho now, but she made the drive with her husband and three kids to Utah to photograph Adaley’s newborn session.

Family photo with Utah newborn photographer Loni Smith
Shellie loved that I was able to dress her and her three girls at her newborn session. Having a newborn is tough enough, let your photographer provide your wardrobe!

All the Vintage Goodness

Once Shellie’s family arrived, I pulled out all of my vintage lace, quilts and clothing. I showed her a pile of pinks and creams and ruffles. We oohed and aahed over my brand new canopy, giggled at how tiny Adaley looked on my newborn bed, and watched her older two girls spin circles in my fancy Dollcake dresses.

Utah studio newborn with Loni Smith Photography

Adaley’s sisters, Paisley and Kynlee, were so smitten with their new sister. She was so teeny and snuggled into them so nicely. They wanted to caress her little toes and kiss her smooth forehead. They were so patient as I set up each new photo and loved the opportunity to dress up.

Sisters with newborn taken by Utah photographer Loni Smith
Three sisters at newborn session with Utah photographer Loni Smith

Photos with Mom and Dad

I strongly encourage parents to get into photos with their new babies. Often, moms will worry that they haven’t lost their baby weight, or they just don’t feel like themselves, but encourage it anyway, because there are only a few weeks to capture your baby at her tiniest before she starts to grow and change. Shellie has done a newborn session with me before, so she and Alan came prepared to get into photos with Adaley.

parents with newborn taken in Utah by photographer Loni Smith
Newborn girl in dad's hands by Loni Smith Photography in Utah
Mom and dad with baby daughter taken by newborn photographer Loni Smith
Mom and dad with infant daughter taken by Utah based photographer Loni Smith

I love this family so much. Shellie has become a close friend since she first hired me years ago. Adaley was welcomed to my studio with excitement, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this new little bundle of joy. Thank you to Shellie, Alan and your three perfect princesses for trusting me to continue to capture and preserve your family’s most precious memories!

If you’d like to learn more about booking a newborn session with me, head to my contact page.

newborn baby with flowers taken by Utah photographer Loni Smith Photography
Newborn session by Loni Smith Photography in Utah
Newborn on moon taken by Utah based photographer Loni Smith
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