One thing that makes me the photographer I am is my vision. Multiple photographers can shoot the same place, same model or even the same outfit and capture it in an unique way. When a photography mentoring group that I participate in thru The Twelfth Year  decided to do a traveling dress project, I jumped on the chance. I had no idea what the dress would look like but knew it would be fun and a quite possibly a big challenge.


We voted on a dress as a group after each person had a chance to suggest a dress that inspired them that fit the budget and was Amazon Prime. All of the photographers were to create a session around the same exact dress. As for logistics, each photographer had it for two weeks and then had to send it on to the next person on the list.  The Traveling Dress travelled throughout the summer and fall to different photographers across the country.  A small snafu occurred and we didn’t get the original color that we wanted but decided to embrace the new one(holy watermelon color!)

Once the dress was picked, I was trying to figure out how I wanted to shoot a model in it. Did I want to do an urban prom type shoot? Did I want her twirling in a field? I wanted it to be a bigger project than a normal shoot with a fancy dress.  I finally settled on a vision and a model (one of my own seniors from last year!).

Prom photo shoot in kalamazoo


Choosing a model came with some uncertainty because we all know that sizes vary so much and things ordered off the internet can bring surprises.  With only two weeks with the dress, I knew that as soon as it arrived, I had to have Lauren come in and try it on.   I was nervous that it would be either huge or tiny (anyone else ever order a TINY dress from China?).  It felt a little like Cinderella!  To my surprise, it fit her perfectly…it was meant to be!  And I knew Lauren’s talent with hair and makeup would complete the look!

Prom dress shoot kalamazoo senior pictures


For the location, I had an inspiration from the Taylor Swift video for Love Story (any TS fans in the house?).  My daughters always loved that video when they were really little.  They thought she looked just like a princess – they called it the Belle video.  I always loved the romantic feel of the video set at a beautiful castle – very Romeo and Juliet.  So I knew when I started thinking of locations that columns, arches, railings that reminded me of balconies and old doors would all come into play.  After scouting for locations, I decided on about 5 or 6 different Kalamazoo locations to find the feel we were going for.  Do you recognize any of these places?  Scroll down to see if you are right!

Kalamazoo senior prom photos


We started off at Kalamazoo College (my alma mater!) because I knew of two different spot that would be perfect for the “railing/balcony” type of shot.   After that, we ventured to the art installation in the middle of West Michigan Avenue.  The people shopping at the local corner store gave us a few looks…like they’ve never seen a girl wandering across the street in a gorgeous gown?!?  Our last stop was up by Heritage Hall on the Western Michigan University campus.  Lastly, we visited the First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo.

high school girl in prom dress in kalamazoo

I can’t wait to see the vision of the other senior photographers in the Twelfth Year Traveling Dress Project.   I can bet they will all be incredible and have their own story!

running from church photo in prom dress

Would you like to see more fun projects like this? Another Traveling Dress Project?  A Traveling Skirt or Jacket?   Wouldn’t it be fun to do a story session with your prom dress?  Check out more of my senior work here.

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