I’ve always wanted to get into underwater senior photography, even though I have a fear of water.

Well I’m afraid of swimming in waters where I can’t see the bottom.  Swimming pools don’t really bother me, as long as they have an abundance of chlorine 🙂

Some of the most magical images I’ve seen in my time, have been people floating underwater.  There is a sense of calm and flow to each image, as if the person is hovering at the edge of another world, with it’s own laws of motion.

So when I met Elizabeth, one of our high-school senior reps at Valley High School and found out she was a diver – I decided to see if she’d be game for my first underwater senior photography session.  Only I didn’t want to do swimsuit photography, I wanted something that would help demonstrate that sense of movement that only can be seen underwater.  So I asked her if she had a dress that she didn’t mind diving into the drink with.

She did.  Two actually and they both came in very useful.  She also brought a few friends along that jumped on the theme and soon we had a bunch of movement to capture.

We had a wonderful few hours in the highly chlorinated waters of the Valley High School swimming pool.  I rented $500 worth of underwater gear to protect my camera – which if you want to see a grown man act like a kid going into the dark, scary basement, watch me put two grand worth of camera gear underwater – highly entertaining to everyone around but me.  Don’t worry insurance agent for Dreamstate Photography – the camera and lense were fine.  Mostly.

Toward the end of the shoot, Elizabeth went down deep, one more time and I got the shot that I was looking for.  The fabric of her dress hit the right levels and she posed so perfectly that what was in front of me was the same image I saw in my mind.

A few weeks after the shoot I saw a call for submissions of senior photography for a national photography magazine.  I had created a beautiful composite of that final image we captured, showing Elizabeth floating under ocean waters in rays of light.  So I figured – why not?

The image was published in the March edition of Shutter Magazine and got a full page!!!

When I walked into Barnes and Noble to pick up as many copies as I could get my shaking hands on, my heart practically burst out of my chest with joy and gratitude to Elizabeth, her amazing mother (who is the best assistant at a shoot anyone could ask for) and the imagination that I have been blessed with.

Dreamstate Photography works with our clients to create a unique experience, every-single-time we pick up the camera.  And now we can add underwater senior photography to that offering as well.

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Let’s get the dresses, the tuxes and the stylist together with some of our high school senior reps for a fun morning of senior fashion photography – featuring the pomp and circumstance of prom…in March.

Yes.  Yes.  Let’s.

We took our ladies to Pure Bridal in Ames, Iowa where they got to go through some of the most current fashion on the market for prom.  With a haul of three dresses total (which Pure Bridal was kind enough to donate for the day) we then set out with the fellas to Skeffington’s Formal Wear, in Des Moines, Iowa to find the threads to match the ladies fashion.  Skeffington’s set our two guys up with great pieces, really giving credence to their style and taste; the seniors were ready for some fun fashion photography.

Our location for the day was Vintage Love, Rentals & annessi, a store that is quite literally filled to the rafters with vintage furniture and props of all kinds.  The treasures in this store are used by the ever talented Cynthia Betts, an event designer and coordinator in Iowa and surrounding states.  Cynthia gave us the greatest gift for this fun, prom before prom styled shoot – she let us have the run of the store as our backdrop.

We had a beautiful, elegant, vintage styled session set before us.  Beautiful clothing, beautiful people and beautiful things to be photographed with.  So naturally, to stay true to the Dreamstate Photography style, we cranked up the silly and took some funny pictures.

Don’t worry – there are some adorable images in the mix as well.

A huge thank you to Pure Bridal of Ames, Skeffington’s Formal Wear in Des Moines, Cynthia Betts and Welchfilm for capturing the day on film!

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So a friend of mine has a 1956 Chevy hardtop that he lovingly restored with his family, some years ago.  We got together recently to take some pictures of him with the car, wearing the same letter jacket from his high school senior year; to reproduce a single photograph he had from the days gone by.  It was a thrill to provide “senior photography” and help him relive that journey.  I found myself wondering what the average high school senior was like in that time period – what were their worries, their struggles.  What was cool – what wasn’t?

It fired my imagination into high gear – no car pun intended. What if I could do the same thing for our current high school senior reps of this year?  What if I could show them a little bit of the styled, 1950s world that their grandparents and parents once knew?  Would they be interested in something like that?

Nah, probably not.  I mean leather jackets, slicked back hair, Coke in bottles, chewing gum, fast wheels and an over abundance of “cool” doesn’t compare to energy drinks, cell phones, Instagram and modern automobiles that talk to you.

I asked them anyway and boy was I wrong.  They LOVED the idea and went wild getting clothes and props together for the shoot.  It made my heart happy to see teenagers of today, connect with a style that in many respects is still around.  They immediately got into character, so to speak and began to portray what their vision of the 1950s teenager was.  Of course – it looked like a scene out of Grease, but to them it was a slice of history.  I didn’t have the heart to tell them that Grease was just a 1980’s homage to the 50s.  Besides, they were having a good time and that was all that mattered in this senior photography experience with Dreamstate.

Enjoy the images from our Dreamstate senior photography styled shoot: 1950s alive and rocking.

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I absolutely love it when the amazing Cynthia Betts of Vintage Love, Rentals & annessi calls and says, “let’s tell a story – this one is British Colonial meets the Hotel Fort Des Moines.”

My answer is always, “Yes.  Yes, let’s tell that story, abso-freakin-lutely.”

I jump at the chance because I know that Cynthia will not only gather some great artists, but will bring her unique skills and design knowledge to the shoot as well.  The culmination of that wisdom is Vintage Love, Rentals & annessi – a vast warehouse full (quite literally) to the rafters with beautiful, hand-selected, antique pieces of furniture, glassware, lighting and other accessories.  These items can be rented for all types of events and when coupled with her design expertise, bring a level of style and class, rivaled by none in Des Moines.

This shoot was held in the historic Hotel Fort Des Moines which provided the backdrop to build upon, for Cynthia with her design.  Add to that mix the beautiful collection of dresses and accessories of Pure Bridal and the stunning fashion of Skeffington’s Formal Wear and we have a photography story that is full of elegance, passion and the very best of some amazing Des Moines artists and designers.


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Sloan loves to laugh.  Ask her to be serious, ask her to be demure, say the word “Brian” and she just giggles.

And from a photography perspective, that’s RAD because we captured tons of smiling pictures of her during her session with Dreamstate Photography!

Sloan is a 2016 graduate of Southeast Polk High-school and a referral of our awesome ambassador Sydnee Chiri.  Sloan’s talents are all across the board – music, show choir even some athletics thrown in when the opportunity arises.


However the most exciting and scandalous of her many “skills” is her amazing ability to acquire rare and elusive Christmas sweaters that would make Santa blush with shame.  More on that epicness later in our Des Moines Senior Photography journey with Sloan!



Oh….and there was that one time she hugged a painting of a teddy bear, because it looked frightened.


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