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Monica Castellano @darhacastellano78

I can only look at what the soul possesses.

I am Monica Castellano, I was born in Havana, Cuba in 1978. At the age of 4 my family emigrated to Venezuela, A country that I feel so mine that if you ask me, I will tell you that I am Venezuelan. I currently live in the province of Tarragona, located in Catalonia, Spain. Photographer in development, I mainly make portraits of pictorial and conceptual style. . Through photography I learned that without shadows you will not be able to appreciate the light.

I’ve been taking pictures for less than a year with a Canon EOS M50, I call her Sally and it was a gift from my husband. My preferred target is 85 mm; I also use the kit lens of my camera, a 15-45mm zoom. I have a conviction about photography; I think it doesn’t matter what equipment you have, the important thing is to get the most out of it, 
learn to work with your limitations, meet yourself as an artist, enjoy what you do and share it with others. That’s what photography is all about, sharing. And for this we use the language of images written in light.

I was always passionate about artistic movements such as Preraphaelism, tenebrism and Flemish art. The influence of them can be seen in many of my photographs. Colors, lighting, art in general is my greatest inspiration in terms of composition. It characterizes me to leave spaces with no light to create an ethereal and empty appearance. Outdoor photography is often a challenge I face, I’m not afraid of hard lights and I usually use them to support the context of my portraits. For studio sessions I prefer to use continuous light, but sometimes if the room is well lit I took pictures with natural light And I support myself with a softbox. I always try to make my photos come out the way I need them from the camera. I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop for editing. I do not have a formula for all my photographs, each one is special, it is different. I usually do several versions if I like the concept a lot, and the lighting allows it. I am the queen of improvisation, I get involved in each session, and I let myself be carried away by what I am feeling in the moment, at the same time that I connect to the maximum with the person who is in front of my lens. At first I photographed with my smartphone. Nature, landscapes and almost anything. Every photo I have taken has a meaning to me.

When difficult, painful, unfair things happen around you, you want to show them to the world. But you can’t always do it. On many occasions in my life I encountered situations of this kind, even situations that affected me.I immersed myself in the beautiful things that art offers to balance all the negative that was happening around me. Sometimes looking away allows you to see a flower growing on the asphalt, while there is a demonstration where young people die fighting for their nation.  But at that time I didn’t have a camera, so I keep those images for myself. So what I do is create those images that kept me safe. Beauty can also be a way of telling a not-so-beautiful story.

When I found my style, I understood that I identified with the portrait, and mainly, it is what I do. Subtle portraits, with strong meanings. Many of them related to nature, art, love and freedom. I do not like to literalize the concepts.

I am a feverish admirer of documentary photography, I love the work of Eugene Smith. I think that in Agora there are many notable photographers in this area, perhaps this was in principle what attracted me the most to this platform.

I started participating in Agora in 2020. It is a dynamic community that allows you to connect with people who have the same interests as you. I have been selected five times in the top 50.It is the most rewarding thing that has happened to me since I started photography, since I have very little time doing it, and because you also compete with incredible photographers.  The first time I was selected was  Best of week 29, I was competing for the first time with “Liberty”, a photograph inspired by the romantic works of Alfons Mucha, which embodies the female spirit as a free goddess. From the same Photo session “Sunset” was in the top 50 of Light2021, this photograph is very natural and has no editing. I did it with my daughter in a hazelnut field in the middle of autumn.Also top 50 photoofweek41 with Invidere, which is a pictorial photograph taken with two theater students. Top 50 photos of the week44 with “XVII”, this portrait are inspired by a tarot arcanum that represents the hope of the human being.  In top 50 Photo of week45 participate with I left, a black and white full of mystery. The best thing about being in Agora is that it allows you to expose your work, you meet people from all over the world who share their vision with you,you make links with other human beings, and when you see it this way you understand that you are not the only one, that everyone we feel the same way no matter where you come from, or where you have been. In the end, you don’t feel like you are from one country or another. You feel human. 

I thank all my Agora colleagues for their support, you help me feel that I must improve everyday. For those who are starting in photography, I will only say this: if you go down the street and see something that seems exceptional, that you must make eternal in an image, do not stop doing it, perhaps it is a reflection of your soul.

Agora : @darhacastellano78

Instagram :  mocastellanophotos

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