A Quick Look into Three Photography Niches

The photography editors of “The Monarch” share appeals, recommendations, and discussion of their specialties.

Film Photography by Meredith Hastings

Meredith Hastings ’22

Over several years of shooting film, it’s become my preferred method of photography. Though it may not be as versatile, high-quality, or environmentally friendly as current-day photography with digital cameras, film offers a unique style and experience that yields a comforting, nostalgic feel. In my experience, the graininess, slight blur, and offset colors add to the specialty of film, giving the photo more character.

Most often, I use an Olympus Infinity Jr., a small point-and-shoot film camera with very minimal settings. It’s extremely beginner-friendly, yet it still provides nice quality film photos that require very little effort to achieve. For those who like the look of film but don’t want to invest in buying rolls of film or dealing with the sometimes finicky nature of older cameras, I would highly recommend investing in a Paper Shoot Camera. It’s a digital camera that fits in your pocket but takes film-style photos. It offers the distinctive style of film while maintaining the benefits of digital cameras, such as the ability to export photos directly from the camera to your computer.

Whether you use a simple point-and-shoot, a complex manual film camera, or the film-style Paper Shoot, my most important recommendation for film photography is to embrace the imperfect. Film can be very difficult to master, and the quality of the photos will never match those of a modern digital camera. However, using film cameras has allowed me to enjoy the experience of taking photos so much more, and I always feel a stronger emotional connection to the memories I capture on film.


Portrait Photography by Kiley Stephens

Kiley Stephens ’23

We all should be familiar with the popular iPhone camera setting called “portrait mode.” Whether you love using this setting to create high quality photos, or if you accidentally landed on it while your phone was in your pocket, this mode allows your image to focus on a particular object while blurring the background. Originally added to the iPhone in 2016, this mode has been used by all standard iPhone photographers to elevate their photos. While the iPhone makes achieving portrait photos seem simple, this form of photography has a lot more aspects that make it so intricate.

Portrait photography is usually about capturing a picture of an individual with added elements of background, lighting, colors, posing, and emotion to create a captivating piece of art; this is what makes portrait photography so engaging. Trying to achieve and fulfill all these aspects within a still photo may be challenging but yields a satisfying image. Though portraits are often disregarded as mundane or boring, this sophisticated style of photography holds a lot of relevance to our lives. For example, at the beginning of the school year when you get ready for your student ID, the use of portrait photography is present. That family photo hanging in your living room, trendy Instagram photos, headshots for that life changing audition– all examples of portrait photography.

This art form has many important aspects that help create such fantastic photos while also being applicable to our current lives, and better yet, it can all be captured on the simple device in your back pocket. 


Wildlife Photography by Erin Chung

Erin Chung ’23

If you love animals and the outdoors, wildlife photography is a perfect way to capture your passion through a visual medium. This form of art can be executed with any camera; whether you use an iPhone, Android, or DSLR camera, you can successfully capture the lives of animals. But like most hobbies, it may feel difficult to start, especially when viewing the sometimes intimidating works of famous wildlife photographers like Paul Nicklen or Frans Lanting.

However, like many others, I started taking simple photos of flowers, bugs, and birds, searching for beauty in any crevice of my backyard. But here’s the real challenge: if you’ve ever tried to get close to a wild animal, you know how skittish they can be near unfamiliar humans. This is arguably the hardest part of wildlife photography: you must understand an animal’s habits and behaviors in order to help them feel comfortable around you while a photo is taken. It’s difficult to get close to an animal while trying to respect their natural way of life. This is why I prefer to use a DSLR with a 600 millimeter lens, which helps ease the burden of needing to get close to animals. But while expensive equipment may make the process easier, it certainly isn’t necessary, and anyone with a smartphone can produce the same type of work!

I love this form of photography because it helps me physically connect with nature and interact with a plethora of animals I would have never had the opportunity to see otherwise. From spotting Golden Eagles in Yellowstone National Park to observing Scarlet Macaws in Costa Rica, I will never forget the complex relationship that I have formed with nature through my camera lens.