Ames EDC

Ribbon Cutting Feature: McClanahan Studio

Posted on September 4, 2019 at 9:00 AM by Guest Writer Guest Writer

McClanahan Studio was founded in 2009 as a fresh alternative to traditional photography. The husband/wife team of Dan and Alex McClanahan began as wedding photographers and their work quickly made waves for its unique fusion of artistry and authenticity. Weddings took them all over the USA, culminating in 2015 with winning the Grand Imaging Award for Best Wedding Album (the biggest wedding photography honor in the country). In the background the McClanahan’s were branching out into high school senior portraiture and commercial photography. Upon deciding to start a family, the duo retired from weddings and refocused their efforts on local portrait commissions. In the past few years Dan’s images have received the top awards in the USA (PPA, WPPI) for senior and family images photographed right here in Ames, IA. He also received the top commercial award in the USA for imagery created for the Iowa State Cyclone basketball program. To top it off, Dan has been asked to represent Team USA in the World Photographic Cup for the last 3 years and his medaling image helped the USA bring home the World Cup in 2018.

Learn more about McClanahan Studio in this Q&A from Co-Owner, Alex McClanahan!


What is your business celebrating? Why are you hosting a ribbon cutting?

We turned 10 years old this year! We have a great facility with an updated gallery we’d love to share with members. Large prints of Ames icons and Dan’s World Cup images are on display, and our shooting space is in one of the most historically charming structures in all of Ames.

Why Ames / Story County? Why this location?

Our photographer Dan grew up in Ames, so we have deep roots here. We met in undergrad at ISU and ended up staying in Ames after college due to the recession. We decided to take a stab at opening a business and quickly became hooked on the unique culture and charm of the downtown area. We’ve now lived and worked downtown for 10 years and love regularly taking our kids to the library and farmers market! We’ve traveled abundantly and now matter where we go, we always look forward to coming home to Ames. Our plan is to focus on this community for the duration of our career.

What does your business provide?

We provide family portrait and high school senior commissions as well as branding and advertising photography. On the portrait side our specialty is creating custom heirloom artwork. On the business side, we provide everything from modern headshots to full blown advertising campaigns (local, regional and national).

What makes your business stand out?

Unrivaled creativity and craftsmanship, and we are one of the only full service studios in the area. So beyond taking pretty pictures we are experts at designing and crafting archival heirlooms that preserve family history. We are the only studio in Iowa with two M.Cr.Photog. and have a combined 5 degrees from the Professional Photographers of America. In the words of a client: “This studio rocks! Dan and Alex engaged with my daughter for senior pictures in a way that was amazing. I was impressed with the approach even before we showed up for the shoot for getting to know her personality, style, and what it was that she was hoping to capture in her pictures! From the time we hit the studio until we left the junkyard shoot, the experience was a blast! Dan and Alex offer something special for those who are looking for the experience to remember! Thanks both to sharing your amazing talent and style with my daughter at a time she won't ever forget. Plus, the pictures are truly AWESOME. Dan must have been born with a camera in his hand...WOW!”

What motivated you to open or grow your business?

We first fell in love with photography because of the editorial imagery we consumed in magazines and album art. We saw potential for traditional portrait photography to become more like a major magazine production using modern technology. The concept boils down to giving every day people attention to detail and production value that showcases their individuality. No two people are the same, nor should there portraits be!

What some key things have helped your business grow?

Social media was instrumental in spreading brand awareness in the early stages. Now most of our growth comes through delivering great client experiences that result in organic world-of-mouth referrals.

Who is your target market?

Families that want to celebrate their clan or children through artwork. Professionals wanting their brand to stand out from the monotony of sameness and stock imagery

What can customers look forward to?

A fun and personalized experience resulting in images you will enjoy for the rest of your life!

Why did you join the Ames Chamber of Commerce?

We joined the Chamber to broaden our local network and raise awareness of our brand within the community.

Any final words you'd like our readers to know about you or your business?


We’d love to meet you and invite you to stop by our studio anytime even if you’re unable to attend our ribbon-cutting! Or at the very least, take a look at our web site and send us an email of introduction if you feel inclined!

Where can we go to learn more about McClanahan Studio?


McClanahan Studio will celebrate joining the Ames Chamber of Commerce and their 10-year anniversary on Thursday, September 5 at 210 5th Street in Downtown Ames.

If you or your business is interested in hosting a ribbon cutting, reach out to us today at 515-232-2310!


Categories: Ribbon Cuttings

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