‘App Dancing’: Local Photographer Dee Kotaska Explains Her Unique Technique

by | Oct 2019

Gail Gates and Dee Kotaska

Gail Gates and Dee Kotaska. Photo: Chris Emeott

Dee Kotaska was a speech therapist for 30 years before realizing photography, her 40-year-long hobby, has always been her passion.

With classes for young children to family programs to advanced courses, there’s something for everyone at the Edina Art Center (EAC). The EAC also offers free community events, such as its monthly author series and juried exhibitions—both of which occur this month.

For insight into how the EAC supports local artists, we feature four here with different backgrounds, ages and specialties: Leslie GranbeckBlake StolpestadHolly Stone

Be inspired!

When Dee Kotaska saw a National Geographic photographer using his iPhone to shoot photos in Hawaii nearly eight years ago, she thought it was insane. “But I’d look at his photos and realized, that is exactly what I’ve wanted to do all my life,” Kotaska says. After the artistic retreat was over, she came back to Minnesota, purchased an iPhone and hasn’t looked back since.

Kotaska was a speech therapist for 30 years before realizing photography, her 40-year-long hobby, has always been her passion. Now, she’s coined the term “app dancing,” for her style of photography—which is definitely more artistic. “When I sit down and look at a photo, I’m thinking ‘how can I express the emotion of how I felt?’ So, I will try a bunch of apps, and that’s called app dancing,” Kotaska says. And when people ask her what apps she uses, she laughs and says, “I don’t know! I probably used 50 of them.”

When creating a new image, Kotaska uses her iPhone to capture striking images—and the first thing she does after is come up with three words to describe where she wants to go with the image. “If it’s a noun, it will be a documentary photo; if it’s an adjective, it will be an emotional photo; if it’s a verb, it’s a picture with motion,” Kotaska says. She then starts with one app and uses several other editing features over one another to get the effect she wants.

Her inspiration for the striking images comes from nature and other artistic photographers around the world, who she’s connected with through Facebook. Her inspiration also stems from her Digital Mischief show partner, Gail Gates. The two were first connected by the East Central Regional Art Council, after Gates was awarded a grant to study artistic photography with Kostaska. [Kostaska was later awarded a $7000 grant to study with National Geographic] Now the two feed off each other, as they both have an incredible passion for photography.

The duo first displayed their Digital Mischief show in January in Pine City, Minn. In July, it was displayed at the EAC. The show offers pieces of how each photographer bonded photography and digital artwork. And though Kotaska’s experience with the EAC is new, she says it’s been absolutely marvelous. “They were very willing to work with us,” Kotaska says. “We worked with them on the show. They’ve been very helpful.”

Though Kotaska and Gates don’t have any upcoming shows, they will be showcasing their digital photography in Mora, Minn. in December and again during the Vasaloppet Cross Country Ski Race in February. Their artwork is also available for purchase at the EAC.


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