Speaker: Kathy Strauss, ImageWerks

Meet Kathy

Let me introduce myself… I’m Kathy Strauss and I’ve been in the creative industry all my life. I’m a photographer, an artist, and creative coach. I use my creative voice with my camera, using it to tell stories for personal branding, commercial clients, and families. Fine art is my “release”, using my camera to show the world how I see it. I am also a mixed media artist—painting, doodling, writing… anything that allows me to tap into the universal energy that surrounds us. And I’m a creative coach—when I’m not doing my photography or creating a new piece of art, I’m teaching.

I started my business ImageWerks with my husband, GC Schow in 1999. At the time, both of us were working fulltime as graphic designers for large companies—we were in the print side of the business, creating publications, presentations, logos, and I was managing the image libraries and taking photos as needed for projects or events. When we established the business, our focus was branding, marketing and web design. We loved what we did, we won numerous awards for our work and the business—but we were both burning out and we were looking for something we could sink our creative passions into. GC wanted to do only his fine art and I was okay with that. He had been experimenting with the software Corel Painter and he literally “lost himself” in the program. The work he was creating was breathtaking and I encouraged him to jump into it fully. Me on the other hand—I kept falling back on my love of photography, but I also wanted to dive back into teaching and do something super creative—aka, fine art. In 2010, I got my certification as a Creatively Fit coach (aka a creative coach). With that certification, it rounded out our business to finally be the creative studio we had both dreamed of… photography, fine art, and teaching creativity workshops.

In November 2022, after many years of health challenges and my caregiving for GC—he passed away. This left a hole in the business as my “go to” fine art commission digital artist. I still do the same, but with a paint brush. I am learning the same program GC fell in love with—but, for now I use traditional painting methods for portraits and other pieces I create. His work is filled with his love of color, love of history, travel, nature, and the great outdoors. You will see these elements represented in his pieces. He left a legacy of fine art that I intend to share with the world. You will find his work in our shop.


What Do I Do?

Photography. My photography specialties are personal branding, headshot portraits, marketing, event imagery, and family photos. I must include my fine art photography in the mix too—but business-wise it’s the latter that my clients seek me out. People know I’m an artist at heart, I see the bigger picture and that comes out in all the work I do. When I’m approached by a client, I tell them that my aim is to tell their story visually—my photos must connect to their viewers/clients. By creating custom visual libraries for them, my clients don’t have to go to a stock photography site for their marketing imagery. Family photography is just as important to me as business branding. As a visual storyteller, it’s all about creating memories and telling their story. All my family sessions are filled with laughter and creativity. My clients always remember what they were doing, how they were laughing, joking, or even crying when they look at the final images, I create. These photos will be hanging in their homes and passed down to generations to come.

Creative Coach. I always share with whomever asks me, why is creative activity important? It’s been proven that by introducing creative activity into your life, it can help improve your thinking and help you relax. But the real reason—it’s just plain fun! As a Creatively Fittm coach, I share my artist’s view of life through workshops where my students learn how to tap into their innate creativity and enthusiasm for life—aka they are tapping into their inner artist. Whether it’s drawing, painting, or learning to improve their photography skills—I have created and taught creative workshops for youth, adults & corporate clients. But, instead of my sharing more about why creativity is so important, why not come explore and play! Some of the workshops I’ve developed are: Your Artist Within; Wine, Nibbles & Scribbles; Paint Your Pet; Shaping Your Future; Vision & Perspective; & Creative Storytelling with Photos. You can read more about them on my workshop page.

Fine Artist. When I started in photography, I grew up in the film/darkroom era. I had to know what I was taking, how to compose my photos, and what the technical settings were. Then along came the digital age—that literally blew my artistic world open. The possibilities for expanding my artistic endeavors vastly improved. Besides my digital painting and fine art photography—I love creating mixed media art. I love creating custom pet portraits, as well as large mixed media art that explores universal energy. I am a founding artist at the Workhouse Arts Center and eventually ran the co-op gallery, Arches Gallery Artist in N. Virginia. I currently am an exhibiting artist at the Seacoast Artists Gallery in Myrtle Beach, SC. Over the years, I have had numerous solo shows—showcasing my fine art photography & winning numerous awards for it as well. Currently, I use my digital fine art skills to restore old photos – bringing them back to life. In addition to my fine art photography and mixed media skills—I have found a joy of tapping into universal energy through doodles. This led me to create and self-publish two original coloring books: “Coloring Your Spirit: designs to spark the creative in all of us” and “52 Weeks of Gratitude: 52 positive words that can change your life and the way you think.” You can find my books on Amazon.

If you were to ask me what sets me apart from other creatives is that I’m an artist first—a photographer second. Everything I do has an artistic twist to it, with my artistic philosophy driving everything I do. It’s this that sets me apart from others, seeing the bigger picture, tapping into their joy, telling their story, and creating memories that last a lifetime.

Artistic Philosophy & Statement

Live life, love life, paint life, create life! I love showing people that as humans, we are innately creative & everyone’s an artist. I love sharing my passion of creativity, taking pictures, telling stories, and giving back. I’m an artist, photographer… I am a visual storyteller.

Have you ever walked by a scene & what you see takes your breath away? You remember these images in your dreams, they might be clear, they might be small & slightly out of focus… but for some reason it sticks with you… you feel it’s energy… it makes you feel good. I try to capture this energy in each piece I create—allowing the viewer to feel.

My design background comes to life in my artwork. I compose my photographs with precision and harmony—sensitive to graphic composition, repetition, color, rhythm, reflection, pattern, and aesthetics—always look at what makes the scene spark. My doodle art comes from my heart—I never know where the piece is going to take me, I allow it to vibrate as I create it and when it’s finished, it always amazes me. I enjoy seeing how my heART connects to the piece. But no matter what I shoot or create, I always see the balance and composition between the elements.

. . . Is it the graphic design influence . . . or a natural appeal for composition? . . .

Kathy Strauss

Brooke Vu