A perfect 400 print case

So I had a lot of people really like my entries this year and in competition the District judges scored all four of my prints as a perfect 100 which has only happened twice in history. They also did really well in PPA's International Competition - below is the press release for those portraits!

Ben Shirk of Shirk Photography was named a Diamond Medalist during Professional Photographers of America's 2015 International Photographic Competition. Shirk’s work will be on display at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, Jan. 10-12, 2016.
A panel of 43 eminent jurors from across the United States selected the top photographs from nearly 5,200 total submitted entries. The level of the award is determined by how many of those four images receive the highest possible honor: acceptance into the PPA Loan Collection, which is displayed at photographic exhibitions, conventions and other photography events. Shirk was named a Diamond Medalist, meaning that all four of his merited images entered the PPA Loan Collection.

Shirk also set records in district competition this year with all four of his Photographic Open prints receiving a perfect 100 score. Only two other people in history have had a perfect print case. In competition Shirk was awarded First Place in Portraits, First place in Wedding, and First Place in Illustrative, the Canon Par Excellence award, The Kodak Gallery Award, and the Best Print Award from Sunset-Lexjet. Shirk was also named 2015 North Central District Photographer of the Year and Iowa Photographer of the Year by the Iowa Professional Photographers Association.

I was challenged to create an all in camera image because so much of what I have done before has had a lot of post processing to them. Besides a slight bit of toning, this was all created in camera. Thanks to the beautiful model Rose Couch for modeling for me!!!

I photographed this model (Twig Noir) while hanging out with some friends in Wisconsin. She has some amazing costumes so I created an image in my head as I was photographing her and then created this entire scene later on the computer. It is play on Alice in Wonderland and the Queen of hearts. Much of the wrought iron fence is hand shaped to inlay lots of hearts. The castle in the background was pieced together from Images I took in Ireland

I photographed this in my studio about an hour before I shot Mirror Mirror. It was originally going to be an all in-camera shot also but I decided to add more hair later. I spent a few days gathering old books and melting candles all over them. You wouldn't believe how much work went into getting the candles just right. There are lots of little details (like in most of my images) I even included a half eaten brown apple core, unwatered dead plants, dead flowers, and if you notice the binding of the book near her elbow is titled "knots" - which in my head aided in her escape later from Rapunzel's tower.
a cool shot of one pile of books that was part of the scene I created 

a detail shot I took later to allow me to add more hair 

I don't know which image I spent the longest on - there is certainly a ton of time invested into each but this one has been haunting me for awhile. I was unsure of who I wanted the subject to be but I could see the scene. From the door, to the door's frame, the sign, the words, the light, each and every element that you see was photographed separately and placed into the scene, then shaded, highlighted, toned, corrected for perspective and in some cases drawn to match.


The Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI)  holds their annual convention in Las Vegas every year.  They also host a very prestigious print competition where photographers from around the world enter their best work.  This year I placed in the top three in four different categories. Here are my winning portraits!
football, team, sports, poster, football poster
Titled "Turf War"

Titled "To Fetch a Pail of Water"  

Titled "Twisted Dreams"

Titled "The Last Menagerie"

Team Sports Posters

We have been cranking out a bunch of team sports posters again and having a lot of fun with them!  Teams come into our studio to be photographed on green screen then we extract them and create an awesome scene around them.  Eventually the posters get turned into layered photoshop templates that can be reused for other teams around the nation.  If you are a photographer you can see some of our designs and options for photographers at http://shirkphotography.com/for-photographers/distance/.

The girls had a bunch of fun having a mud fight at the studio to get ready for their photoshoot!  I had them do a cool action shot then created a bunch of mud splashes around them to give it a cool mud volleyball look.

This has some special meaning - It is meant as a tribute to Boston College's #19 who lost his life in the World Trade Center Bombings helping to rescue others.  He always wore a red bandanna.  ESPN did a cool story on him that you can view on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWKPjSirbcU.  The poster was sent to Boston College and also  Welles Crowther's Mother  who loved it.

Created from a scene I captured in Ireland at Giant's Causeway - this is a real place!
 This is already a template on our website.

The coach came up with this theme but I had to do some creative thinking to come up with a background.  Sometimes that is the hardest job is just figuring out what to do with their theme.