Focusing on photography

Wertman displays creativity locally, in New York

November 04, 2012|By JANET HEIM |
  • Monika Wertman runs Wertman Photography out of her Hagerstown home.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

Monika Wertman has always known she wanted to work in a creative field.

In high school, she concentrated on art and wanted to be an architect, until a guidance counselor talked her out of it.

“There was no doubt in my mind. I’ve always done something artistic one way or the other,” Wertman said from her Valleybrook Drive home in Hagerstown.

It’s been a long journey, though.

Wertman got married and raised three children, who now range in age from 16 to 25.

Her husband of 27 years, Carl Wertman, was in the U.S. Army, so the family moved often. He is now retired from the military.

Monika Wertman, 48, said it was a “midlife crisis” that got her serious about a career in the arts. It was in Florida, where they lived before moving to Hagerstown in 2005, that she fell in love with photography after taking a few college classes.

“Jacksonville, that’s where I discovered photography,” Wertman said.

After getting an associate degree from Hagerstown Community College, Wertman commuted almost daily to Frostburg (Md.) State University.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts in fine arts in May 2009 and thought about getting a master’s degree in teaching, but with a shortage of teaching positions for art teachers, opened her own photography studio, Wertman Photography, in her home.

The first weekend of October, Wertman participated in New York’s 24th Annual Autumn Crafts Festival on the grounds of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City and the last weekend in October, she was part of the Craft and Fine Art Festival at Nassau County Museum of Art on Long Island. Both were juried shows.

“It was nice exposure. My work was well-received. There were pieces that moved and I took orders,” Wertman said.

Locally, Wertman has exhibited her work at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and the Contemporary School of the Arts & Gallery, as well as at a few shows in Frostburg. She is scheduled for a show at The Ratner Museum in Bethesda, Md., in January 2014.

Wertman sells limited-edition, signed prints with certificates of authenticity, either on canvas or framed and matted. Her photographs are shot digitally and worked in a digital dark room.

“It’s beyond just photography. It’s not just a portrait or still life. It turns into art,” Wertman said.

She also does portraiture and is focusing on weddings, getting ready to train a second photographer for larger weddings. Wertman is in the process of looking for studio space in downtown Hagerstown and hopes to move her business soon.

“I get to do what I want to do, and I love what I’m doing,” said Wertman, who still draws and paints when time permits.

Once her youngest, a junior at North Hagerstown High School, goes to college, Wertman would like to get her master’s degree in fine arts, most likely at Towson University or Maryland Institute College of Art. Both offer three-year programs where students live on campus for three months in the summer.

For more information, call Wertman at 301-693-3021 or go to

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