Behind the Scenes at dsm

Alaina Stifel, a sixth grader featured in “Mini Makers.” Read the story here. 

Mini Makers

“Kids do cool things,” Des Moines photographer Paige Peterson says. “Often what they’re doing is pushed aside to make room for the adult things in life. We should pay more attention.” 

That realization prompted Paige to pitch a story based on the concept. The result? “Mini Makers” (read here), for which Paige partnered with writer Brianne Sanchez to showcase entrepreneurial middle schoolers who are turning their creativity into side businesses. “It was a joy to meet these three inspiring kids who took an idea and made it into a reality,” Paige says. “Kids really are the future and can remind the rest of us to have more fun, laugh more, play more, be silly, be colorful, be loud.” We couldn’t agree more.

Taking the Cake

The dynamic team of local stylist Sammy Mila, photographer Dera Burreson and writer Karla Walsh collaborated to produce the story on wedding cakes (read here). “I loved brainstorming the vibe of the shoot—everything from the lighting (ethereal or dark and romantic?) to the propping and the angles that would best capture the desserts,” Karla says. 

Indeed, Sammy and Dera collaborated on every aspect of the shoot. “We pick out props, surfaces and backgrounds and come together on a unified look and style,” Dera says of their process. “It was fun to try a couple of new techniques I had been itching to execute. I wanted to make sure each baker’s goods were lit and showcased well, making them all the star.” 

“Supporting locals is such a big passion of mine,” Sammy adds, “and so I want to make sure everything I do for them really makes them shine.” 

The most challenging part of the shoot, all three say, was the logistics of coordinating the schedules of all the bakers and making sure the desserts survived transport to the studio—and, as Sammy puts it, “not eating every single dessert we shot.” 

Left to right: Paige Peterson, Brianne Sanchez, Sammy Mila, Dera Burreson, Karla Walsh


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