Koltz employs imagination in her photography
By Donna Schuld
DE PERE – Local photographer Shanna Koltz has captured her fair share of weddings, high school senior portraits and commercial projects, such as the Ashwaubenon’s Town Planner Community Calendar.
But said she also uses her studio for creative storytelling.
With tones ranging from playful to macabre, Koltz’s work can be found in area galleries and museums, and even outside in the Nicolet Alley on the city’s west side.
Koltz owns Koltz Photography and Studio Rouge (a photography boutique) in the 400 block of Main Ave.
“I want it to be a creative space, but then also a place to show the creative work,” Koltz said.
Not one for shortcuts, she said she immerses herself in all of the elements that go into her photography.
“Technically, I’m a photographer, however, I’m doing more than just taking a photo,” she said. “I make all of my textures. I style the people in the photos, sometimes I’m painting on them, or I’m calling in a body painter if it’s more than I do. I like the process. For me the process of making that art is like a puzzle for me to put all the pieces together. It’s getting all these pieces and getting an idea and making all those pieces. That’s really fun for me. I enjoy it.”
Koltz said she photographs client sessions, fashion and events for a living – and artistic conceptual images and landscapes for her soul.
Photography, she said, has been a passion of hers since childhood.
“As long as I can remember I had a camera in my hand,” Koltz said. “When I was a little kid, I spent a lot of time in the hospital, and that’s what I did. I drew, painted, I would do anything I could.”
Mostly self-taught, Koltz said she left her work selling mortgages to get back into photography following the birth of her son.
She said the support of her family contributed to her success.
“They’re my biggest fans – they’re kind of embarrassing,” Koltz said. “They can’t go to the grocery store without telling people about my stuff, which is cute.”
Creating elaborate, emotive scenes, she said, doesn’t happen quickly, but that’s just fine with her.
“I start with little pieces,” Koltz said. “So, I start with collecting anything I’ll need for the look and the set. I break it down into the look of the model, then I pick the model, and then the makeup and hair, and I pick the people to do that, and then I collect. I have bags in the basement of stuff I’m collecting for shoots that haven’t happened yet, they might not happen for a while. They only happen when I have all the pieces together.”
When it comes to the community, Koltz said the interest in the arts is growing.
“I love it,” Koltz said. “I like that De Pere does these Art Walks, because it brings people in and shows them the work. I like that our area is starting to understand the value of art… The communities are seeing that it can really enhance your space and bring people from other areas. When I go somewhere I love to check out their local art scene, and I love that we have one now. And I’m excited about the Mulva Center coming in.”
Koltz admits not everyone likes, or even understands, her photography.
“I’m really doing it more as an escape on my own, and if people like it, awesome,” she said. “The people who do relate to it, sometimes it touches them more than I would have thought it would. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m just doing it for me, and I’m really honored when people do like it. I don’t always expect them to like it. Sometimes people think I’m creepy, if there’s a piece of work that’s creepy, but I’m not creepy at all. I like emotions, and they’re all over the board.”
More on Koltz Photography can be found online at shannakoltz.com.
For more on Studio Rouge, visit koltzatstudiorouge.com.