• Cara Cilento

Why I Have Four Favorite Types of Photos and Never Stop Taking Them

Updated: Sep 7

When people ask me what kind of photos I shoot, I say, “Whatever I feel like” because it is through photography that I can generate more innovative concepts and ideas. It's a visual representation that can be understood even when no words are used to describe it. I want to create a reaction through photographs that will interest people. They must touch their hearts and thoughts so I can capitalize on the inspiration behind them and the emotions they elicit. It helps to support my writing as an author—even though I have never taken official photography training. I find that the types of photography that elicit the most reactions are street photography, landscape, photomanipulation pieces and found objects.

Street Photography

Street photography is, at its core, the candid photography of people and other aspects of society. A street shot must be taken in the course of everyday life and must not be posed. Which means that street photographers are watchers. Not in a creepy sense but in a loitering sense. The street photographer uses their people watching skills as a way of connecting with the world and bringing back the memories of their experiences. It can be compared to a visual type of poetry — while beauty and shape are significant components of street photography, excellent street images often have something going on beneath the surface that is not visible to the untrained eye. It sounds easy, but it isn’t.

Street photography requires a lot more from the photographer than taking a typical still. I needed to develop good eye-hand coordination, timing and stealth. Many people do not want their pictures taken in public. Even though it is legal in the U.S.A., I check the laws. I am not a lawyer, so I usually cover all my bases with pre-planning a scenario. If a person objects, I am up front and tell them I am working on a photography project. I offer a release for them to sign. I am open to showing them the picture and deleting it if they ask but usually, they are okay with it. Many times, I take pictures from behind but sometimes it is the expression that makes the picture.

Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is the art of capturing images of nature and the outdoors in such a way that the viewer feels as if they are part of the subject being photographed. From expansive landscapes to minute details, I try to relate my personal connection to nature and capture the soul of the environment in which I took the picture. I do landscape photography because it forces me to get outside and appreciate the natural beauty surrounding me. Even if I don't come back with any photographs that I'm really excited about, I usually feel better for having gotten out into the sunshine. It also encourages me to discover new areas that I might not have otherwise explored.

Landscape photography encourages me to go to new locations, and to venture outside during those times of the day when we are typically cooped up inside, like sunrise, sunset, and nightfall. Sunrise and sunset are when the most intriguing light is ready to be discovered. It encourages me to set my alarm in the morning rather than sleeping in, and to stay out until and past sundown. It also inspires me to seek out a dark area at night and gaze at the stars.

Another favorite type of photography of mine is found object. When something is discovered by coincidence and I think it has artistic value, then it becomes “found object”. Objects and items that have been discarded, forgotten, dropped, or misplaced – such as shoes, a fork, shopping carts, signs, doll heads, abandoned cars, clocks, mementos, or any object that can be reimagined through the lens of a camera – may be considered found art as long as I think it possesses an aesthetic quality.

It is easy to become inspired when I shoot found object photography. You can be anywhere at any time and discover a piece of art. A journey to an old, abandoned house, or in my case, a prison, can yield great photos. I decided that a correctional facility would be the ideal chance to capture and remember the people who languished there. So, I explored and photographed until I came upon a room that was dilapidated yet set in the window corner was a book about Christian heroes. I thought it was the perfect depiction of hope in such a desperate place. I probably could have staged it to be more appealing, but the prison is rumored to be haunted and I was too chicken to touch anything.

Photo Manipulation

Lastly, I create pictures using photomanipulation. Photo manipulation is the process of making changes to digital photographs through the use of image editing software. Now, I already admitted in my last blog that I am a Photoshop failure, so my manipulations are basic and aesthetic. Some people feel that photomanipulation is an art form in and of itself because of the endless possibilities, however when manipulating photos, it is imperative to do so responsibly. For example, when I created my series, “Camouflaged”, I stated that I used two art forms, photography and acrylic pour and blended them together to create a new visual effect and artistic statement.

Now, I want to be clear. Photomanipulation is not photo editing. Photo editing is the process of making color or exposure adjustments to an image in order to improve the quality of the original. Things such as hue adjustments, tone curves, color balancing, and spot changes allows me to stylize images in ways that are not feasible when shooting in-camera. I use photo editing to enhance the appearance of a shot or to add my style to an image that has already been taken, but again, I rarely do so and use my photos as shot. Maybe I should re-invest in that Photoshop class. Afterall, it does enhance a photo in ways it is impossible to do with a camera alone, but I am having so much fun going places and taking photos that I see as having artistic value, I will wait.


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