OUR

STUDIO

Experience having your portraits created in our stylish 3300 sq ft studio.  Recently completely renovated with state-of-the art equipment and more backdrops and props than you can imagine…  A waterfall, trampoline, and fog machine just to name a few!

Wanting images outdoors or on location too? We have a bunch of great areas nearby to create just about any style you are wanting!

OUR

TEAM

BEN SHIRK
PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTIST
SARA SHIRK
STUDIO MANAGER
JAMES HETZLER
GRAPHIC DESIGNER

OUR

STORY

THE BEGINNING
Ben spends his early years drawing the people around him… always trying to capture the moment on paper.
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1996 – 1997
In high school Ben finds that special someone to draw. It was 1996 at a high school volleyball game when he asked his future wife to homecoming. Ben & Sara became inseparable...
1997-2002
Ben heads off to wrestle for the Iowa Hawkeyes and major in Art. Sara joined him at the University of Iowa a couple of years later to major in Accounting. What do they say - opposites attract?!
2002-2004
Ben & Sara get married and move back to Wilton. Drawing remains Ben's creative outlet until shortly after their first son is born. Ben picks up a camera and never touches another pencil!
2004-2007
Ben spends his days working as a graphic artist for a newspaper, honing his design skills on the computer. He spends his nights and weekends photographing family and friends in the living room!

Very quickly Ben's hobby begins to fill more and more of their time. He creates an in home studio above the garage. Ben makes the leap to full time portrait artist upon the birth of their second son Mason in 2007.
2007-2009
Ben invests much time in improving his skills and mastering his craft. Sara invests much time into the business, which continues to grow faster than they ever dreamed. In July 2009 they are fortunate to have James Hetzler join the team as a graphic artist and help lighten their workloads.
2009
Ben wins his first award at the PPI (Professional Photographers of Iowa) convention. The competitive fire inside of him that burned so bright through all of his wrestling years was once again relit. It gives him the drive to not just win awards but to become the best at his craft.
2010-2011
The perfect opportunity comes about to purchase a downtown retail location and begin a complete renovation of the property. In the midst of all of the construction, Ben & Sara's first daughter was born. Sara decides to leave her outside accounting job to focus her efforts solely on the studio and their growing family. After a year of renovations, the studio was moved into the new location.
2011
Ben earns his first major awards:
Professional Photographers of Iowa - Photographer of the Year
Professional Photographers of America - Diamond Photographer of the Year
NOW
Ben’s drive and passion for creating unique images continues to create a very high demand for his work and helps him continue to win many national and international awards… 7x PPA International Diamond Photographer of the Year, including Double Diamond Photographer of the Year (1 of only 5 ever in the world). The only photographer in the world to be a top 3 finalist in 3 different categories in the World Photographic Cup with 2 gold medals.

Ben recognizes how fortunate he is to have found success in a career that is also his passion. In an effort to give back and help others achieve the same, he has been sharing his knowledge, experience, techniques and creativity with other photographers around the world at workshops, seminars and online.

GALLERY OF

AWARD WINNING IMAGES

PRESTIGIOUS

AWARDS

2011

PPI Top Iowa Photographer

PPA International Diamond Photographer of the Year – Electronic Imaging

PPA International Gold Photographer of the Year – Photographic Open

2012

Grand Imaging Awards Top 3 Electronic Imaging

PPI Top Iowa Photographer

PPA International Diamond Photographer of the Year – Photographic Open

PPA International Platinum Photographer of the Year – Master Artist

National Kodak Gallery Elite Award 1st Place

2013

Grand Imaging Awards 1st Place Illustrative

PPI Top Iowa Master Photographer

PPA International Diamond Photographer of the Year – Photographic Open

PPA International Platinum Master Artist of the Year – Master Artist

National Kodak Gallery Elite Award 1st Place

2014

Grand Imaging Awards 2nd Place Illustrative

Grand Imaging Awards Top 3 Wedding

World Photographic Cup Bronze Medal – Illustrative

World Photographic Cup Top 10 Wedding

WPPI Top 3 Commercial

WPPI 2nd Place Illustrative

PPI Top 10 Iowa Master Photographers

PPA International Diamond Photographer of the Year – Master Artist

PPA International Diamond Photographer of the Year – Photographic Open

Canon Par Excellence

Canon Par Excellence Select

2015

Grand Imaging Awards 1st Place Wedding

Grand Imaging Awards 1st Place Senior Portraits

Grand Imaging Awards Top 10 Commercial

Grand Imaging Awards Top 10 Illustrative

World Photographic Cup Gold Medal – Wedding

World Photographic Cup Gold Medal – Portrait

World Photographic Cup Silver Medal – Illustrative

WPPI 1st Place Illustrative

WPPI 2nd Place Commercial

WPPI 3rd Place Wedding

WPPI 3rd Place Portraits

PPI Top Iowa Master Photographer

PPA North Central District PERFECT CASE (4 x 100) – Photographic Open

PPA International Diamond Photographer of the Year – Photographic Open

PPA International Platinum Photographer of the Year – Master Artist

Canon Par Excellence

National Kodak Gallery Elite Award 2nd Place

Sunset Print Award 2nd Place

2016

Grand Imaging Awards Top 10 Wedding

Grand Imaging Awards Top 10 Master Artist

Grand Imaging Awards 1st Place Illustrative

World Photographic Cup Bronze Medal – Illustrative

WPPI 2nd Place Illustrative

WPPI Master Photographer

PPI Top Iowa Master Photographer

PPA North Central District Top Case – Photographic Open

PPA North Central District Top Case – Master Artist

PPA International Diamond Photographer of the Year – Photographic Open

PPA International Platinum Photographer of the Year – Master Artist

Canon Par Excellence

National Kodak Gallery Elite Award 3rd Place

2017

Grand Imaging Awards 1st Place Illustrative

Grand Imaging Awards 2nd Place Senior

WPPI 1st Place Bride Alone: Non-Wedding Day

WPPI 1st Place Illustrative

WPPI Grand Award Winner – Creative Division

Degrees

B.A. Art – University of Iowa
Master Photographer – PPA
Master Artist – PPA
Photographic Craftsman – PPA
Master Photographer – WPPI

XXV MEMBER

The Society of XXV is an elite international guild made up of the finest photographers in the world.  The society consists of 25 Active members and a number of Emeritus members.  Criteria for membership includes excellence in their field, as well as active involvement in community service, and leadership in the photographic industry.  All members are award winning photographers and artists in their respective areas of expertise.

IN THE

PRESS

Ben has been recognized worldwide as a leader in photographic art.  His work has been featured on several websites, in numerous international publications, and on major news networks such as: