Combining his love of photography, sports and making his own money, at the age of 11 Ben Queen realized very quickly that there was a market for amateur photography in his hometown of Bridgeport, West Virginia.
Participating in baseball, soccer and basketball since age 5 and then running track and cross country for his middle school at the time, Ben took advantage of his "down time" during sporting events to learn photography by shooting hundreds of photographs. His teammates and friends received dozens of FREE photos from Ben taken with a 35mm film camera.
Parents would offer to pay Ben for the photos he took as a way to help him cover the cost to develop the photos and buy the film. At the time, he had never taken a photography class. Ben received lots of advice and pointers from area professional photographers like Gary Griffith, Sam Santilli, Joe McNemar, Bob Shaw of the Exponent-Telegram and Tom Mellotte.
Ben saved up and bought his first digital camera in 2006 which enabled him for the first time to see his photos BEFORE they were developed. No more processing fees associated with 35mm film! With a digital camera and long-range lenses, Ben got to keep only the best photos and then began to offer them for sale.
In 2007 at 12 years old with encouragement from his middle school teachers and principal, Ben started his first business (this website) taking photos at area youth sporting events (Little League, PONY Baseball, youth football, cheerleading, danceline and middle school games). His start up venture grew quickly and it wasn't long before he was being hired to take photos at birthday parties, car shows, dance recitals, plays, Halloween parties, family reunions, special school events and school dances.
Unlike photography for portrait purposes or for commercial artwork, Ben's "focus" is on Event Photography -- Capturing People Engaged in Life.
In June of 2008, the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce named Ben the "2008 Young Entrepreneur of the Year". With the support of his family, friends, neighbors and now the local business community, Ben and his website business, www.BenQueenPhotography.com, was well on it's way to success.
In January of 2009, Ben's photo titled "The Longest Yard" was selected in a nationwide contest to be the winner of the "2009 National Amateur Photo Contest" sponsored by Canon USA and the Professional Football Hall of Fame. The theme of the 2009 contest was "Why Do We Love Football?" and more than 10,000 photos were submitted. Ben's photo featured five Pee Wee league football players from Harrison County.
For winning the contest, Ben received a complete four-person travel package and tickets to Super Bowl 43 in Tampa, Florida. Ben, who had never before attended a professional football game, found himself taking photographs at one of the most exciting Super Bowls in the history of the National Football League -- earning the Pittsburgh Steelers their sixth world championship, using the last two minutes of the game to narrowly defeat the Arizona Cardinals.
While in Tampa, Ben got to spend time with legendary sports photographer Peter Read Miller as well as photographers from Sports Illustrated and other national publications. The trip to the Super Bowl was a "super" learning experience. Ben has referred to it as "a trip of a lifetime".
In addition to winning a trip to the Super Bowl, Ben, his family, all of the players in his photograph and their families were special guests at the 2009 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Pre-Season Football Game hosted by the Pro-Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The 2009 Hall of Fame Class included Derrick Thomas, Rod Woodson, Randall McDaniel, Bruce Smith and Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, Jr. In addition, Ben got to meet and photograph numerous other Hall of Fame inductees.
Ben's photograph was unveiled on August 7, 2009 and placed on permanent display in the Professional Football Hall of Fame Museum.
In 2009, Ben entered Bridgeport High School and took his first photography class with veteran photographer and educator Alice Rowe. Under her direction and encouragement, Ben has broadened his knowledge of photography and the use of light and images to perfect his art. He has won numerous awards in area photography shows and competitions including "People's Choice" in the annual Harrison County Photography Contest. In 2009, Ben was also retained as a freelance photographer by the Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram, the area's leading daily newspaper.
In 2010, Ben became one of the youngest photographers ever and one of only six in West Virginia to be accepted into the national organization known as SportsShooter.com. That recognition helped Ben get his sideline credentials to photograph college football at West Virginia University. Remaining active with the Exponent-Telegram as well as The Bridgeport News and other daily and weekly newspapers as a freelance photographer, Ben has now had more than 400 photos published in paid publications and hundreds more in local publications, yearbooks and annuals.
Ben is currently a freshman at West Virginia University. With help from the entrepreneurs and engineers at Citynet, Inc. (a West Virginia start up and the state's largest independent service provider), Ben is expanding his website. His goal is to create an easy-to-use outlet for other amateur photographers (students and adults) to sell their work as well as an easy-to-buy place for family and friends to purchase photographs.
Ben is the son of Michael Queen of Clarksburg and Paula Thompson-Queen of Bridgeport.
If you or someone you know would like more information on becoming an Event Photographer with BenQueenPhotography.com please email Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org.