- The Studio
Carolyn Monastra is full of adventure and an outstanding photographer. We are excited to share her portfolio, along with a peek into life outside of shooting weddings. Take a look at her interview!
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Years in NYC: 18
Outside of Christian Oth Studio, how do you spend your free time?
Traveling when and where I can. I recently returned from a nine-month around-the-world trip where I was photographing landscapes affected by climate change. Needles to say, it was a life-altering experience. I met so many amazing people and got introduced to a variety of cultures. In the city, I enjoy going to art exhibits, concerts or movies, riding my bicycle around Brooklyn, doing yoga, swimming, and reading.
When did you begin to have an interest in photography?
From the time I was nine or ten I always remember taking pictures with a little plastic camera. I became a devotee when I got my first 35mm camera for my 15th birthday and my father set-up a darkroom in our basement. I started taking photography classes for high-school students that same year at the Cleveland Institute of Art. At Fordham University, even though I was an English Literature major, I kept taking photo classes and a couple years later I was accepted at the Yale School of Art and received my Masters of Fine Art in Photography.
What is the most important thing you bring to a shoot besides your camera?
Almonds! They are the perfect power food to get me through the day. But more importantly, I bring my relaxed nature and sense of humor. I think there can often be some stress on the day of the wedding and I keep a light-hearted attitude to put people at ease. I was a social worker for my first few years out of college and I think that training allows me to deal easily with all kinds of people and situations. It also helps that I come from a large family (one of 23 cousins) so I am energized by the activity of big events.
What is your favorite moment to shoot in a wedding?
It’s hard to pick just one isolated moment but I do love the activity of the bride (and the groom too) getting-ready. There is a heightened sense of anticipation – both nervousness and excitement – in the air. I love the unexpected tender moments that can happen between family and friends during those hours before the ceremony. I feel privileged to be a witness to those moments.
If you were not a photographer, what would you be doing?
Maybe I would be a pastry chef. I enjoy baking breads and sweets and seeing the expression on people’s faces when they eat them. (Which is why I also enjoy the cake-cutting at weddings.)
If you could pick anywhere, where would be your favorite place to shoot?
Antarctica. I had the pleasure of going there last year and it was a photographer’s dream-scape. The light was ever-changing and the landscape is breath-taking. I am lucky to be going with the Arctic with same expedition company this summer as their artist-in-residence. So if anyone wants to plan a destination at one of the Poles, then I'm your gal!
Where do you find inspiration?
In New York City there are so many places; in the streets, the parks, and restaurants. I enjoy observing people’s gestures and the way they interact with one another – especially young couples in love. I have recently become a fan of the social media sites Pinterest and Instagram because I like the surprise of seeing what other people are looking at on the web and out in their daily lives.
What is your most memorable New York moment?
That’s a tough call. Having lived here for so many years, I have many. I do remember one stormy summer night when I was attending a concert downtown. I had to fight strong pre-storm winds just walking to the venue. But when the concert was over and the crowd spilled outside, we were treated to the most glorious sky filled with cotton-ball shaped clouds. In awe, everyone pulled out their cameras while exclaiming how we’d never seen such clouds. A few months later, I was doing an engagement shoot with a couple and the groom happened to pull out his phone to show me some pictures he'd taken. It turns out, they has also had seen that magnificent sky from another location in the city. It was a great New York bonding moment!
West Chelsea, New York
Lake Como, Italy
The Bowery Hotel, New York
Sea Island, Georgia
Half Moon Bay, California