Meet Your Merchant: Photo studio sees families grow up through lens of camera |

Meet Your Merchant: Photo studio sees families grow up through lens of camera

Jim Grant/Nevada AppealToni Langson, left, and Shelly Plaut are the co-owners of Little People Portraits located on North Carson Street.

Dozens of portraits line the walls of Little People Portraits, and many are of people co-owners Toni Langson and her daughter Shelly Plaut consider friends.

“We’ve seen families grow up,” Langson said. “We’ve seen the babies come in and some of the kids are graduating from high school now who were really young when we opened. We’ve just seen a lot of Carson City families grow up over the years.”

While Langson takes care of the business side, Plaut handles the photography.

The Langsons got their start in the photography business when the family moved to Carson City from Texas in 1984. They had considered opening a mobile home park, but when the interest rates spiked on their loan they were forced to choose a new path.

Plaut’s father and Toni’s husband, Don Langson, had worked as an art photographer so the family decided to open Back in a Flash One Hour Photo in Frontier Plaza.

“We just sort of stumbled into photography,” Langson said.

That business lasted 18 years – the digital camera did it in – and shut down shortly after they opened their portrait studio in 1999.

“Shelly had small children and she was going to Reno to get pictures done,” which meant two-hour waits, Toni Langson said. “So she decided that we needed a portrait studio for children in town.”

The family moved the portrait studio to Northtown shopping center in 2000 and have been there ever since, catering to countless Carson City families over the years.

“It’s been really good, we’ve won the Best of Carson for several years,” Langson said. “We’ve been really good up until the economy started going down.”

The business started out focusing on children, but has since expanded to include portraits for families, high school seniors, business and pets.

Plaut has photographed thousands of people over the years, traveling to parks, schools and backyards to capture a family. Some of those portraits stand out.

“I had one couple come in with six dogs,” Plaut said. Another family had chickens they wanted to include in their portrait.

And despite the occasional crying baby, Langson said: “We always get the shot.”

“You have to be quick,” Plaut adds.

Langson said they go to conventions to learn about photo trends. She said more customers are straying from props and are going for a more traditional portrait nowadays.

“The trend is more close up, head shots and not so much the full body sitting on a motorcycle anymore,” Langson said, although, they still offer the toy motorcycle for children who want it.

“We pretty much do anything the parents want,” she said, adding some parents will ask to have a photo from their childhood duplicated for their child.

The studio also is hosting a Halloween costume contest through October, which includes two photo sheets for the price of one for those who participate. At the end of the month they announce the winner, who will receive a photo package.

Portraits start at about $30 and packages at $99, which include CDs.

Don Langson, who displays his photography in the back of the studio, also does portrait enlargements.

“So it’s total family, everybody does something different,” Toni Langson said.