Dan Meythaler and wife Britt bought the former Metro Club on the north side of the Square this month and are renovating it for their business, Meythaler Photography. ANDREW McGINN | JEFFERSON HERALDPhoto by Meythaler PhotographyPhotos by Meythaler PhotographyPhotos by Meythaler Photography

Picture perfect

Des Moines couple finds new home in Jefferson for their photography business


There’s no question that Dan Meythaler has a sharp eye.

He’s the kind of wedding photographer who sees the potential for a good shot anywhere, like on the escalators at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, where a reception was taking place.

“One was going up and one was going down,” Meythaler said.

He put the bride and groom on opposite escalators — and captured the moment when they met with a kiss.

“The first one they completely missed,” he explained. “They were a little drunk.”

But even a drunk uncle whose cellphone pictures are always inexplicably blurry could’ve easily eyed a building in downtown Jefferson for Meythaler Photography to call home — the century-old building they bought is the one that needed the least work.

And that’s saying something.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” Meythaler, 28, said last week as he looked around his new, 130-year-old investment at 122 E. State St. that most recently served as the Metro Club.

“Tore out the bar last night,” he added.

The 35-foot bar had to be cut into 13-foot pieces to be removed.

“And it was solid,” Meythaler said.

The arrival in Jefferson of Meythaler and wife Britt, 29, both Fort Dodge natives, runs counter to how migration patterns in Iowa have worked for about the past 20 years.

Instead of leaving rural Iowa for Des Moines, they left Des Moines for rural Iowa, selling their Windsor Heights home — and their garage, which doubled as their photo studio — for a new life in Jefferson for their young family, which includes a 2-year-old son, Cooper.

The sale of their building on the Square was final as of Dec. 4.

“We stopped in here probably three times,” Meythaler said, describing how they began shopping earlier in the year for a new home for Meythaler Photography.

Jefferson proved to be picture-perfect, geography-wise, for the Meythalers — nearer to family in Fort Dodge, close to friends in Carroll and Ames, and within driving distance to existing customers in Des Moines.

“Jefferson is dead center for all of it for us,” Meythaler said.

“And,” he added, “there’s no actual studio here.”

They’ll also soon scout out a house in Jefferson, according to Meythaler, who kicked aside an air mattress and apologized for the stray Nerf darts left over from breaks in renovation work.

“With our son, we wanted a smaller community,” he said. “This is peaceful.”

For the time being, they’re living with parents in Fort Dodge.

Meythaler hopes the business will be up and running in late February or early March, although they’ve already booked a few gigs.

The business began six years ago when Meythaler, a 2006 graduate of Fort Dodge Senior High, realized a love of photography.

He’d been working for Gannett, the parent company of the Des Moines Register, as an image specialist, editing photos to run in the company’s numerous newspapers across the country.

Entirely self-taught, he began his photo business as a “shoot and burn” operation — for $500, he’d shoot your special occasion and give you a disc of photos in return.

His first paying job was a neighbor’s wedding.

“If I could go back and do that day over,” he recalled, “I would.”

He’s since done close to 50 weddings, not to mention senior pictures, family portraits and more.

This past October, they were trying to sell their house in Windsor Heights at the height of family photo season.

“Everybody wants the fall leaves,” Meythaler said.

He and Britt did 13 family sessions that month, but ultimately had to pass another 20 sessions onto other photographers.

Dan Meythaler is the business’ primary shooter, although Britt, a 2004 St. Edmond grad, shoots weddings as well, in addition to duties keeping the business together “and making sure I’m on task,” Meythaler said.

Their work is decidedly modern.

In other words, these aren’t your parents’ wedding photos. And senior pictures have changed from the days when all you had to do was put a kid in a chair with their hand on their chin.

Meythaler is always open to new ideas.

“You can be sitting there watching a movie and think, ‘Man, that light from back looks cool on James Bond,’ ” he said.

He also takes cues from the music he plays while working.

“It can completely change everything,” he said. “Things just pop into your head.”

One of the best things about moving to the country?

He’s looking forward to being able to use smoke bombs, which give off a cool effect for four to five minutes.

In Des Moines, they were frowned on by the fire department, he said.

And why is Des Moines so cool again?

Come to rural Iowa, where there’s enough room for everyone to burn something.

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Jefferson, IA 50129

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