The {N} Family - Cousins are your first best friends!

I love a fun extended family session! Grandma Chris adores her grandchildren, and when we set up a time to do family photos she told me all about them!

This crew of little blondies came from as far away as New Mexico for our perfect fall session out at Great Bear Ski park. Great Bear is a wonderful place for family photos! The trails are beautiful and it’s generally pretty quiet. The colors are gorgeous in the fall and it’s like Grandma and nature were in cahoots for dressing these beauties perfectly for the scenery!

Canvas Wall Gallery

Chris was able to use these perfectly coordinated images to make a stunning wall gallery and a beautiful holiday card!

Photo Christmas Cards

A great tip for dressing a large group for photos is to pick a pallet and then dress of it. These guys did a perfect combination of burgundy, denim and cream. The kids all look coordinated without being matchy-matchy and adults had a wide variety of style to choose for themselves. This is a great way to make a cohesive image that will become a treasured family portrait. If you need more tips, I have a whole Pinterest board of dressing ideas for your family!

If it’s been awhile since your whole family has had a group photo, give us a call! We love helping you create a family heirloom!

The S Family - Three Generations of Laughs!

A few years ago my great grandma Green passed away. She was quick as whip into her 90s and I love the stories she would tell about her farm growing up. I can still smell her house. You know, that Grandma’s house smell. It takes you right back to being a kid. One of the things I always loved at her house was looking at this photo of her parents on her wall. They were gone a good twenty years before I was even born, but I loved looking at those photos. That history of generations before. The story of my family… Your family. Your roots. My love for these old photos may be what drew me into photography. I just love the history of a family.

As families grow up, they often scatter to the winds. Everyone grows up and moves away to start their own careers and families. Getting together to make a family photo seems like something that’s not really that important, but before you know it, the grandbabies are big kids and headed off to college and that whole circle of life thing starts over again! And someday, somewhere, a little girl is going to be looking at that portrait and learning her own family history.

A beautiful family portrait will always be treasured! Hanging in the family room now, or as an heirloom for future generations, no one ever regrets the time to take family photos!

This beautiful family is stretched from Nebraska to Washington, DC, and we enjoyed making a little family history with them. <3 Laura and Jamie (On the right side) is another one of my amazing wedding couples back from 2011! Now they’ve started their family and that circle of life grows…

The {S} Family - Gorgeous family with six kids lights up the studio.

Moms with their kids are one of my favorite subjects. I had this vision for Erin’s family and she met me all the way!

Erin is just an incredible human. I am sure she thinks I am ridiculous because I fawn over her, but I am so impressed with her energy and ability to wear so many hats! When I met her a few years ago, she told me all about her deep love for her sweet husband and a dream of a big family. She was on baby #4 then when we created some stunning maternity images. Now there’s six beautiful kids and each one as sweet and adorable as the next one! Three boys and three girls who charmed me with smiles and different personalities. Little Jenny told me all about the baby calves. George is dad’s sidekick. Clint is a little surly, but has these puppy-dog eyes that will get him his way. Anna wasn’t really into photos, but likes to dance and has the best laugh. Erin and John makes some gorgeous and well-behaved kiddos!

One of my personal goals in creating family portraits that are beautiful and stand the test of time. I want to work with each client to select wardrobe and talk about ideas that will make for images they are proud to hang on their walls!

Erin is my favorite kind of client! She loves photography (and is a photographer herself in her “free” time!) and she was totally on board with making my idea come to life. She knew I had a plan and together this happened…. Gorgeous beautiful images of the sweetest kids and her family.

The (O) Family - The Everlasting Gift of Photography.

Last year I was blessed to meet the Olson’s. Kacie’s sister reached out to me and told me that Dale was sick and they really needed a family portrait session. I hadn’t met them before, but I wanted to be sure that their family had images in the worst imaginable situation.

We often talk about the importance of family portraits, and it’s not just a marketing pitch. Regularly clients reach out when they know that a family portrait is something that’s no longer a want, but a need.

I personally try to document every moment in my own life, but so many shy away from portraits during the tough times, when they really become more urgent and important. For some families, these images are literally, completely, priceless.

Life can be ugly, but there are beautiful times and memories to be had. So thankful to Sara for reaching out to me, and I am glad I can use my talents for something truly meaningful.

Family portraits are important. Do them. Do them often. <3

In Memory of Dale Olson - Feb 2, 1982 - Dec 26, 2018

The {H} Family - Sioux Falls Lincoln Lakes Family Portraits

Mom’s and dads, we’ve all been there. Family pictures with the little ones can get a little crazy! A three year old, a one year old… and then throw in the family dog, and you never know what you’re going to get! This family session near Chelsey and Alex’s home in Lincoln Lakes was on a perfect late summer day. The light was ooey golden goodness and the kids… completely adorable.

Truth is, family portraits can be as stressful or fun as you want them to be. Mom Chelsey is a pro at both being a mom and as a photographer, and while the littles had their own agenda, I am not sure I have laughed so much at a session! These kids are the cutest and we still got amazingly fun images that are sure to be treasured forever!

This is yet another family I’ve seen grow from mom - I did her senior pictures, to a family - I shot Chelsey and Alex’s wedding… (one of my all time favorites, EVER!! Check it out here: Chelsey + Alex) to now a family of four. It means the world to me to see my clients year after year. I can’t wait to see these kiddos grow up into amazing humans just like their sweet parents!

If you have crazy kids, we’d love to be your photographer! Just send us an EMAIL and we’ll be in touch!

A growing Sioux Falls Family! Multi-generation family session at Great Bear

For over 15 years I have been able to photograph this gorgeous family. From years ago on the capital steps in Pierre, to this past fall when they trusted my new location idea! These are my people. My oldest — and favorite — clients. <3

I have seen it grow from four people, to five, then to six, seven and eight! Some families imprint a special place in your heart and from Miss Kait as just an 8th grader, to photographing her senior photos I have loved seeing her turn into a fantastic adult. She dotes on her sweet niece and handsome nephews. There was a few years we lived in separate cities, but I was able to photograph Miss Jorja and Mr. Beckett as newborns.

This family treasures family portraits. They make a special time each year to capture the kids growing bigger, the family growing larger, and the changes all of them have made alone the way. I am forever grateful they choose me to capture these memories year after year.

If you’re interested in your own family portrait session, we’d love to chat!

Top Five Family Portrait Park Locations in Sioux Falls - Which Sioux Falls Parks are Best for photos!!
Sioux Falls Parks for Portraits

Shalista Photography – Top Five Portrait Locations in Sioux Falls

There are so many key elements to making a strong family portrait. One of the more important factors can be location. Picking a location that matches your personality, decor and vibe is important to the longevity of your images. When you making a time and money investment into a portrait that will hang for years, make sure your location meets all your requirements! Luckily Sioux Falls has plenty of beautiful park spaces. I could have made a bigger list, but I kept it to the five most popular!

Shalista Photography created this beautiful cousin portrait at Great Bear Park east of Sioux Falls!

Shalista Photography created this beautiful cousin portrait at Great Bear Park east of Sioux Falls!

Location, location, location. What is IN a location? Short answer:  everything! Choosing the perfect location for your portraits can feel overwhelming. In no time at all the padded baby feet on the stone walkways give way to the cleats, high heels and expensive sneakers of tomorrows teenagers preparing to take those next steps into adulthood at their senior session.

I know all the best places to highlight the personalities of your tribe, locations perfect for that sunset shot you want gracing the wall, the sassy stone walls that make your Senior stand out, and those perfect rolling fields for your toddler to toddle through. Oh, and one more thing:  your location needs to have a bathroom. It’s the unglamorous side of portrait work, but those tiny rooms are useful for little ones to use and to make quick clothing changes in! The locations I suggest will fit the bill of everything you’re looking for, and below I’ve listed my very favorites for you to consider for the next time we get together!

McKennan Park

His parents were married in McKennan Park a few years ago! What a great place for first family photos!

His parents were married in McKennan Park a few years ago! What a great place for first family photos!

McKennan Park is a historical park with easy access from the city center.  Enveloped in natural South Dakota beauty, it has different blooms through the year and Chery Blossom trees in early Spring. The manicured grass and stone walkways are a plus for those tiny toddler legs to navigate easily, and the plethora of flowers makes for nice pops of color.

My favorite times for lighting up those special moments at McKennan Park is morning or evening. A favorite wedding spot, it can fun to venture back there over the years to capture your growing family on the same walkways where you first walked as a husband and wife.

McKennan Park is right in the center of Sioux Falls, just south of downtown and west of the Avera McKennan Hospital campus. Find out more here:

Good Earth State Park

South Dakota’s newest state park, Good Earth State Park, is quite literally nature’s playground.   I think back on session’s we’ve done at Good Earth and I hear that tune in my head: … “sun, sun… Mr. Golden Sun….”.  Almost everywhere you go, the sun is shining through some of the oldest habitations that South Dakota has to offer. Soft golden rays flood the fields of wildflowers and tall grasses which are perfect textures for Senior Sessions and Family Portraits. There is a river to wade through; trees literally bend over the pathway creating a fun and unique archway.  Because it is a state park, we need a park pass to enter, or we can pay for the gate. However, I can assure you that the images will far surprise the price of admission!

The Outdoor Campus - Sertoma Park

Located close to my studio is The Outdoor Campus, one of the area’s premier outdoor education centers. While we won’t be there to take a bow & arrow lesson (but you totally can if you’re so inclined!), its grounds are well manicured and brimming with natural growth. We can spend the morning following your little one exploring one of the many trails, or visit the ducks on the duck pond. Or, we might get this party started later in the afternoon to capture your entire brood gathered on the dock with the evening sun casting a warm glow on everyone.  Easy to get to, and easy to park at, The Outdoor Campus is a perfect spot for those larger family sessions. A popular Sioux Fall portrait location, it can get busy; however, my favorite times to work there are morning or evenings.

The Outdoor Campus is very easy to find, right along 49th Street and the Big Sioux River. More information here:

The Japanese Gardens and terrace park

The Japanese Gardens are simply breathtaking. Enveloped in amazing architecture and stone stairways, there are limitless posing possibilities, especially for larger family groups. Along the water's edge is a great space to reflect as a group, or as a Senior embarking on those first steps into adulthood. My very favorite spot is a pathway right along the edge of the water where there are tall grasses and green trees to fill the backdrop with natural textures and the morning sun peaks through giving everything a golden, sunny glow:  it’s magic. Add to that the Cherry Blossom trees that bloom in early Spring, and you have a fantastic location for recording all those smiles.

The Japanese Gardens and Terrace Park are a lovely piece of Sioux Falls History and you can find them here:

Mary Jo Wagner Arboretum - Perry Nature Area

Posing on one of the many bridges at the Mary Jo Wagner Arboretum makes family sessions a breeze.  Not without the usual South Dakota beauty of tall grass and woodsy trails, what sets this park apart from the others is the wood fencing and various brides which provide for a variety of poses.  Of course, a location as exclusive as this one needs a permit to shoot in, which I already have! I especially love this location in fall when the leaves create a colorful mosaic in your images.

You can learn more about the Mary Jo Wagner Arboretum on their website:

It’s always a good time for family portraits.

There are few places in the world as gorgeous as South Dakota, and our fantastic selection of local and State parks are a great way to capture your family through the years.  Family pictures, Senior Sessions, portraits are easy when the world is your natural studio. Contact me and let’s get your 2019 session on the books as summer and fall are filling up!


We’d love to chat with you!
Fill out our form and we’ll be in touch!

Name *
Why Family Portraits Will Mean as Much to Your Kids as they Do to You. - - Sioux Falls Family Photography.

Why Family Portraits Will Mean as Much to Your Kids as they Do to You.

Sioux Falls Family Photography.

For those of you who are moms who clicked on this blog post thinking about the begging, pleading and the fights you’ve gotten into with your kids before a portrait session, let me say first; I feel you.

I know how hard it is to coordinate the schedules, coordinate clothing and the prayers you say that nobody gets sick the day before the photo session. I know that you’ve taken the dog to the groomer, you’ve skipped the pedicure for yourself chosen closed-toed shoes instead, and you’ve promised non-organic, GMO laced treats that you would normally never allow to your kids after the session if they Just. Smile. And. Cooperate.

But, hear me out.

Sioux Falls Family Photographer

If you’ve ever seen the look on the face of a kid who realizes that the family portrait hanging in the hall doesn’t include them, you would understand why I’m so passionate about making sure that family portraits are kept updated.


Have you ever noticed how much little kids love to look at photos of themselves?

I hold myself to the same standard, by the way. Every year my family and I have our photo taken by another professional photographer.  And as I stand there smiling, trying to forget about how my youngest screamed at me 5 minutes before as I combed through her hair. I try to block out how my teenagers sulked in the car resenting every hair on my head and how my husband grumbled about wasting a perfectly good Saturday….. I truly feel your pain.

This is my family in Mexico a few years ago! Photographed by Monica Lopez in Cancun!

This is my family in Mexico a few years ago! Photographed by Monica Lopez in Cancun!

When children are young, they look to their family to understand more about the world and their place in it. In this safe place, they begin to understand the hierarchy of their extended family, and where they fit in the world. Understanding these connections are the building blocks of their self-esteem.

Have you ever noticed how much little kids love to look at photos of themselves? How much they love looking at photos of their family?  This doesn’t change as they get older, though they may attempt to hide it in their teen years. You know how much you love seeing your kids grow, and they do too. Making sure they are seen in family photos matters to them.  

Seeing family photos on the walls sends a message to your kids that “You are loved. You are a part of this family.”

Seeing family photos on the walls sends a message to your kids that “You are loved. You are a part of this family.”

Seeing family photos on the walls sends a message to your kids that “You are loved. You are a part of this family.”

And as we all know, these photos will be even more treasured as they age. How many of us say that photos would be the first thing we would grab in a fire?

If you’ve been putting off family photos for “someday when…” don’t. Your family is perfectly imperfect right now. I’m currently booking late summer and fall 2019 family portrait sessions now, so get in touch!

The (G) Family - Outdoor Family Portraits

Last summer we photographed this adorable couple and their amazing dog Wild Bill! When Kathy called and asked if we could photograph their newly adopted baby boy, we were so thrilled! They were married right in the gardens of McKennan Park, so we decided the best place for their first family portraits was also at McKennan Park! It was a glorious late spring evening and the flowers were blooming. It’s my favorite time of year!

We had a blast with this family and I hope we get to spend more time with them as they grow!

Thanks for having us!

2017 Celebrate Mothers Sessions! - Happy Mother's Day Moms!

We had another fabulous year of Celebrate Mothers sessions this year! We love having the moms and their kids in the studio. As a mom myself, I know how hard it is to get in photos WITH the kids. I know I am the photographer, but it's true that mom's everywhere are generally the ones behind the lens capturing the moments as their children grow.

This is a truly special event for our Sioux Falls studio and we hope to continue to see more families through the years!

Some of our favorite images!