Utah Photographer specializing in Families, Newborns & Children.

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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

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

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

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

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

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 session by Loni Smith Photography in Utah
Newborn on moon taken by Utah based photographer Loni Smith
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What to Wear to a Family Photo Session | Utah Family Photographer

After years of saying “we need to update our family photos”, you finally booked a session with your dream photographer, , you just finished with the consultation and picked out a gorgeous location, now for the biggest question that all clients face : what should my family wear?

Deciding what to wear comes easy to a few lucky people, but let’s face it, you’re here reading this blog because you’re not one of those people. That’s okay, I’m not one of those people either. But after years of photographing beautifully dressed families and then moving on to help dress those families, I’ve collected the best tips and organized them nicely on this blog for you.

After you’re through reading this article, you’ll be able to use this checklist when planning your family’s wardrobe for your session:

  • Consider your location
  • Dress for the season
  • Mom’s outfit first
  • Be cautious of patterns
  • Look for textures
  • Plan some accessories
  • Don’t forget about socks, shoes and underthings
family portraits with Utah photographer Loni Smith Photography

Let’s begin with the first two considerations that you need to dive into before you run out to Target and buy that dress that you’ve been eyeballing.

Consider your location

Is your session taking place indoors or outdoors? Is the location urban or wild?

If you plan to shoot at your photographer’s studio,  make sure you discuss with your photographer the backdrop options that she has so you can use them to plan complimentary colors. I.E. if your photographer plans to use an Old Master’s blue backdrop, consider dressing in cooler tones to match with it.   

If you’re shooting outdoors, talk to your photographer about the overall colors at the location. If you’re at an urban location, will you be downtown with gray buildings and white sidewalks? Will you be on a cute, colorful small town street? Plan accordingly.  If you’re shooting in nature, are the leaves green or yellow or orange?  Is there grass? Are there flowers and what colors are they? What is the overall majority color of the scene?  Asking these questions will at least give you an opportunity to decide on a neutral tone and if you’d like to go with warmer tones or cooler tones.

Family photo session with Utah photographer Loni Smith

Dress for the Season

If it’s Winter or Spring, think about pastel tones.  If it’s summer, neutrals or bold colors go well.  If it’s Fall, jewel tones also photograph really nice. Dress for the season.

Fall – Imagine these items in jewel tones:  sweaters, pants, corduroy, scarves, velvet, leggings, leather boots

Winter – Imagine these in neutral and pastel tones: faux fur, sweaters, boots, scarves, knit hats, leg warmers, pants, wool

Spring- Imagine these in pastel tones or in tones of spring flowers – sundress, sunhat, sandals, shorts, linen, seersucker, cotton

Summer- Imagine these in bold tones : shorts, flowy shirts, suspenders, sunhat, sundress, linen, wedge sandals, seersucker, cotton

Winter portraits of families with Utah based Loni Smith Photography
I dressed my family for my location with pastels and used brown and cream as my neutrals. We dressed for the season with scarves and snowboots.

Mom’s outfit first

Now that you’ve nailed down details of your location and the season, you can hit the stores to find the first outfit for your family. Tip: don’t start in the kid’s section, unless you’re a single dad shopping for yourself and your kids, then you can start with any family member you want.  But if mom will be present at the session – this is the best advice out of this entire article because it makes all the difference when shopping for your wardrobe… start with mom’s outfit first.

Why does this matter? The first outfit that is picked out tends to decide the criteria for all the rest of the outfits. Think about it, if mom finds a cute boutique outfit for her 5 year old daughter that she’s dying to use for her session, she now has to spend hours in dressing rooms trying to find an outfit for herself that fits within those parameters set by her daughter’s outfit. 

It’s hard enough for moms to find something that they feel beautiful and comfortable in.   Moms tend to be the hardest on themselves in family portraits, and I speak from experience after years of selling wall art to clients –  if mom doesn’t completely love the way she looks in an outfit, she won’t like any of the photos with her in them.   Moms, start out by finding a comfortable outfit that you love that fits with the location and season.

Family portrait ideas with Utah photographer Loni Smith

Next, take the color scheme from mom’s outfit and plan the rest of the family’s outfits.  I often find a lot of help by typing the colors into google plus the word palette or scheme. For example, if mom chose a dress that has purple, white and blue on it, she would type in “purple white blue color palette” or “purple white blue color scheme” and she would be met with pages upon pages of coordinating colors.  She now knows which colors will compliment her dress well and she can use those colors to pick out the rest of her family’s wardrobe.   I suggest using no less than 3 coordinating colors and no more than 6 (this also depends on family size, the bigger the family, the more colors you are likely to need).  You can tie in colors to each outfit with accessories as well.

What to wear to your family session with Utah Photographer Loni Smith

Let’s use the color scheme from the above photo: yellow, navy, burgundy, with cream as a neutral. Mom is in yellow and navy, dad is in burgundy and blue jeans, daughter 1 is in yellow and cream (I think she was also wearing a navy skirt, ,daughter 2 is in yellow and navy, son 1 is in navy and yellow, son 2 in burgundy and navy, son 3 in navy and blue and son 4 in navy and burgundy. This family used three coordinating colors with 1 main neutral.

Family portrait session with Loni Smith Photography in Utah

Be cautious of patterns

You don’t want your outfits to clash or be too busy. You can choose a busy pattern for one or two members of your family (this depends on how big your family is!)  and choose solids or really subtle patterns for the rest of the family. You can add a touch of a pattern in a small accessory such as a scarf or bowtie. In the photo above, only mom is in a busy pattern while everyone else is in solids.

Family at Utah lavender farm with Loni Smith Photography
For this family photo, I started with the colors of the location at the lavender farm. I settled on purple, peach, light blue white, and a touch of green. There are two people in patterns, the rest are in solids.
Textures for photography with Utah based Loni Smith Photography
Different textures can be used to add dimension to your wardrobe.

Look for textures

Look for different textures. Wool, lace, gauze, corduroy, linen, etc. Combine different textures for depth and interest. Textures create tiny shadows that give your photos more dimension and look almost three dimensional when printed. 

Family photo session in Utah wildflowers with Loni Smith Photography
These colors look great together, look great with the location, and the clothing goes well with the season. There are two bold patterns, one subtle pattern (little boy to the left) and the rest of the articles of clothing are solid colors.
Vintage car family photos with Utah photographer Loni Smith
Accessories like hair bows and scarves can really tie together your color scheme.

Plan some accessories

Accessories can go a long way in tying in outfits. Hats, shoes, jewelry, hair accessories, belts, scarves, bowties, suspenders, etc. Make sure the accessories tie in with your color scheme and fit your style.

Family portrait session with Utah photographer Loni Smith
family in Utah wildflowers
This photo of my family was photographed by http://krisdoman.com

Don’t forget about socks, shoes and underthings

Socks are generally overlooked, but remember, when your family is posed sitting on the ground, socks will show.  And shoes will show in some if not all pictures.  Make sure the socks and shoes coordinate with your outfits!  Also, if any of your family’s outfits are slightly see through, make sure that anything  they are wearing underneath the outfit doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb – for example, a white top with a black bra.

family session with newborn in Utah studio by Loni Smith Photography
There are some amazing textures in this family photo. I provided all of the outfits in this photo except for what dad is wearing.
Outdoor Utah family session with Loni Smith Photography

One last piece of advice that you will thank me for  before starting your session – have everyone in your family empty their pockets before beginning your session – this is mainly for the dads and teenage boys as females often wear things without pockets.  I can’t tell you how many cell phones, wallets and sets of keys I’ve collected from my clients over the years after noticing unfortunate bulges in their shirt and pants pockets.  Those things can be pretty difficult to try to edit out.   

family with quadruplet photo session with Utah photographer Loni Smith
I keep a collection of dresses for girls and moms in my studio that my clients have access to.

Now, let’s do a quick recap:

Location, season, mom’s outfit, accessories, patterns, textures and finally, socks, footwear and underthings.

If you take all of these things into consideration, you’re bound to have a gorgeous session with a seamless look which will result in wall art that you’re proud to hang in your home. 

If you’re ready to book your family session , head to my contact page and shoot me an email, I’d love to work with you!

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Unicorn Photo Session in Utah

Picture a wild unicorn, running freely, leaving a trail of magical dust everywhere she steps. You’ve probably got a make believe environment in your mind, with waterfalls, trees, flowers and a sparkling stream. You actually don’t have to rely on your imagination because outdoor Utah resembles a fairy tale, and Utah is home to a very real unicorn named Marshmallow. Many happy girls have had their dreams come true through a photo session with Marshmallow the Utah unicorn.

Children's Unicorn Pictures by Utah Photographer Loni Smith with princess dress
Scarlett’s love shines through in this photo of her with her new unicorn friend.

I have been working with Marshmallow the unicorn for five years. She is calm, sweet natured, patient and an absolute dream to work with. But what really sets her apart is the help that she comes with. Utah Pony Party ensures that Marshmallow’s horn is shined, her hair is clean and wispy and her heart is open for another princess friend. They also provide an extra set of hands to make sure that children can sit safely on Marshmallow and snuggle her close during their photo session.

What really happens at a unicorn session?

When you book a unicorn session with Loni Smith Photography, I arrive at the session with dresses and floral crowns for your child. While your child gets dressed, I decorate Marshmallow’s mane with flowers and greenery to add that extra fairy tale touch.

Children's Unicorn Photos by Utah Photographer Loni Smith with girl kissing unicorn
Marshmallow loves kisses!

A handler from Utah Pony Party attends to Marshmallow’s needs and helps your child get comfortable with meeting the unicorn.

I work to get a good mixture of natural, unposed photographs and posed photographs. I make sure that each child has moments to interact with Marshmallow and capture unique photos of their personality. I also direct the professionally posed photographs that always end up as my clients’ top choices for wall art.

Depending on your child’s comfort level, I capture kisses and hugs with the unicorn, your child sitting on the unicorn’s back, having “tea” with Marshmallow, reading a book with her and dancing in front of her.

Children's Unicorn Pictures by Utah Photographer Loni Smith.
Gwen was completely enthralled with her unicorn encounter.

You might have noticed that my finished photos have the straps edited out on Marshmallow’s horn, as well as the rope and my assistant. I do this for every single photo that you purchase from your unicorn session. To make your photos even more magical, I also add things like rainbows, butterflies and sparkles. It’s all a part of making dreams come true and capturing those dreams in photographic artwork for your home.

Ready to book a magical unicorn session?

Use my contact page to send me a quick email for more information about my special edition unicorn sessions. You can also reach me by phone at 385-429-0028. I would love the opportunity to show you my beautiful collection of printed products and to design a unicorn wall gallery for your home.

You can find out more behind the scenes information on my fairy tale portraits on my blog here.

Children's Unicorn Photos by Utah Photographer Loni Smith with quadruplet sisters Gardner quads
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Utah Newborn Photographer | Nova’s Session

A year ago, I had the privilege of being the Utah newborn photographer for sweet little Saphira. This year, Saphira’s precious little sister, Nova came in for the newborn spotlight. Both of these girls had perfect sessions, with a wonderful variety of poses and backdrops.

Nova took a little extra work to get to sleep, but once she was ready, I was able to capture the most adorable images of her by herself, with her mom and with her sister.

As a Utah newborn photographer, not only do I design sets and themes for all of my clients, but I also provide the wardrobe, so I take a lot of the guesswork off of your plate when you prepare for your newborn session. All that I request is that my clients bring their diaper bag and all of the people that they want photographed with their newborn. I take care of the rest of the details.

Nova’s mom trusted me to design a session that suited her style, she was perfectly happy to sit back and let me do my thing, which resulted in some gorgeous keepsakes. Grandma also came to the session and was tickled to have the chance to help pose little Nova and to be my other watchful eye to keep baby Nova safe at all times in the studio. Newborn safety during your little one’s session is top priority in my studio!

These moments between mom and newborn are so fleeting, I love having the opportunity to capture it all on camera. Saphira and Nova will always be able to see their mom’s unconditional love and complete happiness with her children when they look back on these photos.

Utah newborn photographer Loni Smith captures Nova in studio
Mom and Nova

Utah newborn photographer Loni Smith captures Nova with her sister in studio

From capturing Nova’s little tummy rolls, to her wiggly toes and her head full of hair, Nova’s photo session captured all of her details and the newness of her life. She already has a forever best friend in her big sister and they are sure to be super close as they grow since they are so close in age. Enjoy a few more portraits from Nova’s official newborn session!

Utah newborn photographer Loni Smith captures Nova in studio with big sister Saphira
Saphira and Nova
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