Shane Wynn, the photographer with the movie star name, has won two Knight Arts Challenge grants. The first, #overlooked, led to her installation of 6-foot-high portraits of empowered women at the Towpath Trail Bridge over Route 59 in Akron. The second, shared with Karen Starr, is for an upcoming local history book. Wynn, 41, who has a degree in fine art photography from the University of Akron, also co-hosts the Spoils of Akron podcast. She lives in Highland Square with her husband, filmmaker Josh Gippin, and their two children. For more information, visit

Love of photography

When I was 13 years old, my mom realized that I was artistic, and she said, “Go talk to your art teacher after school.” So I went to the art teacher and said, “I really want to do ceramics.” And he said, “Well, my ceramic wheel is broken, but here’s a camera.” He handed me his camera and showed me how to use a darkroom, and that’s when it all started.

Love of Akron

I moved here from Canton my senior year of high school and went to Firestone and started my big love affair with Akron. I’m a huge Akron fan. When I got here, it was like the doors opened. The people here were my people. It was very cliquey where I was before. Here it was more diverse and accepting.

Getting started

During college, I worked at the fStop camera store and I started shooting weddings. I had mentors and help from these older men who were passionate about photography and passed all of that down to me.

Weddings part I

I shot weddings for 20 years. That was great at the time because I wanted to have a family, and when I had young children, I could go out and shoot on a Saturday and then still be home with my kids. But shooting weddings has an expiration date. It damn near drove me crazy.

Weddings part II

I would deliver a thousand images, and then they’re like, “Where’s the one of me putting my veil on?” It’s extremely high stress. I didn’t really have a lot of Bridezillas. It was usually other members of the family. There are particular archetypes you keep running into — the Drunk Uncle, the Jealous Sister, the Overbearing Mom. One of them is showing up. With that many people, somebody is always crazy-pants.

Saying yes

I can shoot almost anything, which is really fun and satisfying. Some of that was just to pay the bills — say yes to everything and figure it out later. I shoot burn victims sometimes, I shoot dogs and people and cars and buildings and sauerkraut balls. I couldn’t survive working for one publication, so I work for like 10.

Civic activism

I’m trying to do more civic activism through photography. I align myself with the groups that are working on things that I care about, for example CANAPI and LGBTQ issues. I am working on a series with the Gay Community Endowment Fund, about issues in the gay and trans communities, and I am hoping to do something on the opioid crisis.

Supporting local artists

People don’t buy artwork here. It’s a huge problem. If you’re looking for Christmas gifts, the sale at the Myers School of Art [at UA] is ridiculous. You can buy pottery, paintings, jewelry. Get a pot made by a local ceramicist and fill it with local honey and give that to your corporate sponsors. Then you won’t have crappy paintings from TJ Maxx on your walls.

— Clint O’Connor

Shane’s Faves & Raves


I love Jeri Sapronetti. Her band is Time Cat. They headlined at the last PorchRokr [in Highland Square]. Jeri Sapronetti is just an absolutely amazing performer. The sounds that come out of that little body are incredible.


I love Moe’s in Cuyahoga Falls. Moe’s is a great seasonal restaurant. They switch their menu depending on what’s in season, and the chef does a really good job of delicately addressing all the ingredients.