Shirley learned the most important and basic ingredients of concerned-photography from her mentor, Magnum-photographer Burt Glinn in New York. She worked as his assistant for over a year (1993), while studying at the International Center of Photography. At the same time she started her first long-term project in Harlem with inner-city kids and the Community Affairs Police. Soon afterwards, she got her first assignments in New York and from magazines in Holland.
Her self-confidence as a starting photographer was strengthened in 1995 when she was selected on her portfolio to attend the prestigious annual workshop of Pulitzer-prize winning photographer Eddie Adams.
Combined with her skills as a writing-journalist (1987 graduation from the Academy of Journalism in Tilburg, Holland), her three years of working-experience in a Dutch company as ‘Head Purchasing and Internal-Sales’ and being a tourguide in the U.S.A. for a while, she had established a solid base for a career as a freelance international photojournalist/photographer.

Inevitable with Shirley’s Jewish background the focus of her journalistic-eye was already turned to the troubled area of Israel from the start of her career. In 1996 she set up base in Amsterdam, but spent most of her time in Israel working on her self-assigned project ‘Children of Hope’, that resulted three years later in her first photo-book, published in Holland under the title ‘Kinderen van de Hoop’. The Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam presented a selection of this work.
In this same period she had not only provided Dutch magazines and organizations with different reportages from Israel and the Westbank (see Publications/RTV), but had also started to document the famous Dutch rock-singer Marco Borsato whenever she was in Holland. This body of work resulted in the photo-book ‘Onderweg’ that was published in a special-limited edition with the release of a new CD/DVD in 2002.

Another important focus of Shirley’s work is aimed at children in difficult circumstances, believing hope for change still lies in a child’s smile. It is this smile she searches for in self-assigned projects like Harlem and assignments for Unicef, Foster Parents, SamSam and Warchild.

Since 2002, Shirley is also a documentary film-maker and director of television and radio broadcasts.