Monona photographer hopes new studio will be ‘Haven’ for the community

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Photographer Megan Snitker hopes her new downtown Monona studio, Haven, can also be utilized by community members and small business owners. (Photo courtesy of Megan Snitker Photography)

When searching for a studio location, Snitker said, “I knew I wanted at least one large white wall that would be versatile for a lot of different things we’d be doing. But then adding the different textures like brick and ship lap gives me a couple other options, as well as our paper colored backdrops,” she explained. Snitker was also attracted to the building’s wall of windows and open space. (Photo courtesy of Megan Snitker Photography)

Haven had a soft opening at the end of January, with an event for the 2022 Snitker senior spokesmodels. Snitker had her first session in the studio this month. (Photo courtesy of Megan Snitker Photography)

Snitker and her husband, Ethan, did a lot of the building renovations themselves, with help from family and friends.“We ripped pretty much everything down to the studs and then built it out from there, then we’ve had a few different contractors that have come in for things we couldn’t handle,” she said. (Photo courtesy of Megan Snitker Photography)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

Photographer Megan Snitker hopes her new studio in downtown Monona will be a haven not only for herself but for other community members and small business owners. 

 

That’s why she chose the name Haven for the space located at 107 N. Page St.

 

“We had a lot of different names we polled our social media channels with. A lot of people suggested Megan Snitker Studios, but at the end of the day, I want this to be a space the entire community can use,” she said. 

 

Snitker has been doing photography professionally since 2016. Since then, she’s taken most photos on location or, more recently, in a studio at her and husband Ethan’s Monona home. Having her own space has always been a dream.

 

“But it was just never the right time,” she said. “We hadn’t settled into a house yet, then we were getting married, and then we had a baby. Now that we’re settled and know we’re staying in the area, it just seemed like I was ready.”

 

With more downtime due to COVID-19 cancellations, Snitker began searching out buildings around the area, eventually stumbling upon Monona’s former Peglow Ford property. On a whim, she messaged the seller and took a tour.

 

“It seemed like the perfect place we were looking for, and it just made it even better that it was three minutes from my house,” Snitker said. “From there, everything went really quick. We toured, and maybe looked at it twice, then put in an offer. Within a few weeks, it was ours. We started demo that next week. Here we are a few months later.”

 

When selecting a studio location, Snitker said she wanted a lot of windows for natural light as well as an open space that didn’t require removing walls. The Peglow building checked those boxes. It has a full wall of windows and needed only a facelift, no structural changes.

 

Snitker and her husband did a lot of the work themselves, with help from family and friends.

 

“We ripped pretty much everything down to the studs and then built it out from there, then we’ve had a few different contractors that have come in for things we couldn’t handle,” she said.

 

Palmer Electric updated the outlets and wiring, then Knockel’s Floor Covering did the floors and Tyler Brainard Construction did the ceiling.

 

“I was hoping for February to be using the space, so we kind of had a lot of things working against us, then with the holidays as well. I’m really thankful for the help and volunteers who got this all going,” Snitker said.

 

Figuring out the components Snitker wanted to include at Haven was admittedly daunting.

 

“I knew I wanted at least one large white wall that would be versatile for a lot of different things we’d be doing. But then adding the different textures like brick and ship lap gives me a couple other options, as well as our paper colored backdrops,” she explained. 

 

Although most of the work in the main studio is completed now, Snitker said there are plans to put counters in a side area, which can serve as a buffet area during events. She also hopes to add mirrors, providing a space for wedding hair and makeup sessions.

 

“It’ll be a dedicated area where hair and makeup artists can come in and just get to work,” she said.

 

“I want the space to be used for a lot more than just my photo studio,” she added. “We’re hoping to rent it out to people in the community to use for events like baby showers and bridal showers, as well as a getting ready space for wedding days. I’ve had a lot of people interested in doing classes or workshops, just because they haven’t had a home to do that themselves.”

 

Snitker said Haven is even more important to her because it’s a space she would have benefitted from as a younger photographer.

 

“When I was just starting, I wish I had a Haven that could help me grow—a safe space I could use to start pushing myself more. Maybe it would’ve helped that growing process start quicker,” she stated. “That’s what I’m hoping this space can be for other people.”

 

Haven held its soft opening at the end of January, and Snitker recently had her first photo session in the space. She’s excited to be part of Monona’s downtown.

 

“As long as I can remember, this had just been the empty Peglow Ford building. I’m hoping giving the space new life is a sign of what Monona is doing in general, with everyone moving back to the area and our school system flourishing,” she shared.

 

She’s also excited about the personal possibilities.

 

“There are times you get a little nervous. We bought this huge building with a hope it would turn out as nice as it did,” she said. “I’m thankful for all the members of the community who have come and talked to us and are excited to see the space finished.”

 

To learn more, check out “Haven - Creative Rental Space” on social media, or go to www.havenmonona.com.

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