Monaris Franqui

Profile Monaris’ Cinematic Streetscapes

© Monaris Franqui

“There’s a certain magic in being able to freeze those fleeting moments, to immortalize the raw, unfiltered essence of humanity.”

─── by Josh Bright, June 12, 2024
  • Monaris is a Puerto Rican-born, New Jersey-based photographer, known for her captivating, cinematic depictions of everyday life in her home city and beyond. 

    Street photography by Monaris: a person sitting on the ground with orange flowers

    She caught our attention with her striking depiction of a taxi driver (see cover image above), which was selected as an Editor’s Pick for our recent Street Photography Award.

    Unlike many successful photographers who became interested in photography during childhood, often thanks to a parent, Monaris’s passion was galvanized a little over a decade ago when she downloaded Instagram for the first time. This was during the app’s early days, when it was still primarily a space for sharing photographs, rather than the chaotic, video-filled platform we know today. 

    Street photography by Monaris
    Street photography by Monaris

    She remembers being “immediately drawn to the vibrant community and creative expression it offered.” At the time, she didn’t have a camera, but like most people on the app, she documented her everyday life – food, landscapes, people – using her iPhone. However, it was street photography, she says, which captured her heart.

    “I always say it was my first true love. There was something about capturing raw human emotion, everyday interactions, and fleeting moments that resonated deeply with me. Photography became more than just a hobby; it became a way for me to connect with the world around me and share my perspective.”

    Street photography by Monaris: a man in a black hat and coat
    Street photography by Monaris, couple on metro
    Street photography by Monaris

    She immersed herself in the style, becoming “addicted” to documenting the streets around her, posting her images on Instagram as a way of documenting what she calls her “visual journey’, and eventually, purchased a camera and began photographing in earnest.

    The streets of New York City have long proven fertile ground for street photographers, and so it was for Monaris, who found endless inspiration on the sidewalks, stoops, and metro cars of this energetic metropolis, developing the signature style for which she is now known.

    Street photography by Monaris, man walking under bridge
    Street photography by Monaris, elderly woman

    While the term “cinematic” is often overused, there is no better single word that encapsulates the atmospheric intensity that characterizes her work.

    “For me, cinematic isn’t just a trendy term; it’s a way of crafting images that whisk viewers away into a world of imagination, much like their favorite movie scenes, but with a twist that’s uniquely mine. I see the streets as my canvas, and with my camera, I become a painter, weaving together classic and modern elements to capture the essence of a moment.”

    Street photography by Monaris
    Street photography by Monaris, hands
    Street photography by Monaris, hands

    Each image seems to reveal but a fragment of a larger tale, inviting the viewer to ponder what stories may be hidden beneath. She navigates the streets, absorbing every intricate detail amidst the bustling urban landscape, uncovering and capturing fleeting moments that often evade the attention of the throngs who pass by.

    “This way of shooting keeps me present and open to the unexpected, allowing me to capture the beauty of life as it happens, one frame at a time.”

    Street photography by Monaris: people on metro

    Like many great photographers before her, her practice centers on her interest in others, and much of her work portrays people caught in quieter moments of joy, melancholy, or introspection.

    A master of framing and timing, she utilizes shadows, reflections, and the hazy glow of dusky lights to add layers and atmosphere to her images—a style influenced by cinema and the works of photographers like Fred Herzog, Saul Leiter, and, most importantly, Vivian Maier. However, she also credits her trademark style to her post-production process, using color grading techniques to “breathe life into her photos.”

    Street photography by Monaris
    Street photography by Monaris

    Reflecting on the past decade, Monaris acknowledges the profound impact photography has had on her life. 
    From collaborating with major commercial clients to working alongside filmmaker David Fincher as a stills photographer on his latest project “The Killer,” her work has taken her across the globe.

    “I never could have imagined how much photography would change my life. It’s been an incredible journey of self-discovery and creative exploration, and I feel grateful every day to be able to pursue my passion as a photographer and visual storyteller.”

    color street photo from a taxi in Kolkota by Monaris Franqui

    However, amidst these remarkable experiences, the passion and drive that inspired her in the early days of her career remain unchanged.

    “Ultimately, my goal with my photography will always be to capture pure and authentic emotion. It’s the heartbeat of my work, the driving force behind every click of the shutter. And it’s what keeps me falling in love with photography, time and time again.”


    All images © Monaris