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Ben Shirk

I am a graphic artist who has stumbled into the world of photography and fallen in love with it. The challenge and love of drawing people throughout my younger years slowly lead me to photography. After a year of building my client base, in 2007 I left my job as graphic artist for a newspaper and started full time in photography. I was named PPI Top Iowa Photographer in 2011 and 2012 and also PPA Diamond Photographer of the Year in 2011 and 2012

10 points that make my business unique.

  1. I photograph each session with the mindset of creating my best, most creative portraits yet – and not thinking about how fast I can get my session done.
  2. No two sessions are ever alike. I rarely do the same thing twice… if I do it’s just for the challenge of doing it even better than the last!
  3. My background is in graphic art so I feel I have a heavy advantage when creating and designing images.
  4. I also have a background in construction. Having a background in both design and construction gave me a huge advantage when creating a unique high end studio.
  5. I was a Division I All American wrestler which I think helps gives me a good feel for athletes, what their mindset is, and the kind of images they are looking for.
  6. I create sports posters for teams that are much more visually intense than what most people are capable of and it helps me to attract seniors that are very passionate about sports or extracurricular activities.
  7. Those seniors that are heavily invested in sports or activities are looking for something exceptional and so a large portion of my clients are willing to travel great distances and invest more in order to get those exceptional images..
  8. Because of the unique images I create I have not yet needed to do any sort of formal advertising – mailers, specials, senior model programs and such yet I drew seniors from more than 25 schools last year.
  9. Our pricing structure is set up to reward clients that invest in the types of products that I feel they should have – large wall portraits, collages, and albums, which helps make our sales averages much higher than most photographers.
  10. My studio is based out of the same small town that I grew up in. So I know just about everyone and nearly everywhere in the town is available as a place for me to photograph.

Dave and the mentors at After Dark were who helped me get to where I am at today.  When I first started attending I knew nothing but I listened well and worked hard to apply what they were saying.  I am honored to be a mentor and included with such amazing people.

From Ben:

“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake by day to find that it was their vanity; but the dreamers by day are dangerous men, for they may act upon their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible” I have been to eight after darks and each time I feel that my skills increase. There is always something new or something to inprove upon, or something to be inspired by. If you’ve never been to After Dark Before remember, make a list, be prepared to not sleep and have lots of fun. I think some of the coolest things happen very very late at night (or early in the morning). Don’t be shy, ask questions, tag along, create!

How many After Dark Events have you attended and what’s your favorite moment?

All except 2! (North Caroline both times). My favorite moment was going out to eat with everyone at Hell’s Kitchen in Minneapolis.

Top 5 skills?

  • Compositing
  • Posing
  • Lighting
  • Sales
  • Wrestling


Contact Info:

Shirk Photography



Fun Facts:

  • Canon Shooter
  • 1/2 InStudio & 1/2 OnLocation
  • Built a new studio as of Aug. 2011
  • Most sessions are within 5 miles of the studio

Majority of Business:

  • HS Seniors


  • Off Camera – alien bee with beauty dish