COLUMNS,  News,  Streets Ahead

Streets Ahead Interview: Cecily Mariece Caceu – Mobile Street Photography

This week, the Women’s Street Photography Collective (Streets Ahead) is pleased and honoured to feature Cecily Mariece Caceu in our interview segment.

Cecily’s was one of the artists whose work was included in the book The Art of iPhone Photography (authors, Bob Weil and Nicki Fitz-Gerald). She was one of the winners of the Mobile Masters Proof Competition (2014) and was included in their e-book. She received Honourable Mentions in the IPPA awards (2013 and 2014) and the MPA awards (2012 and 2013). Her work has been featured on various websites including The AppWhisperer, iPhoneography Central, Mobiography, P1xels, The Art of Mob, The iPhone Arts and 1,000 Words Wearejuxt (GYYRO).

Her work has been exhibited in various places, both virtual and real – Newspace Gallery (Portland) and Lightbox Gallery (Astoria), The Art Centre – Expanding Vision: The Contribution of Mobile Photography (Corvallis) Oregon, the IPA Quarterly show in Santa Monica and Spirit of the Northwest Mobile Photography show in Seattle.

In late November she will have an image included as part of a digital display for the Portraits of the Planet Ocean exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of History.

I highly recommend a visit to her galleries

You can find Cecily on Instagram @cecilyc

Cecily Mariece Caceu

Image of Cecily Mariece Caceu – ©Cecily Patterson

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. Have you always been interested in photography?

I grew up in Oakland /Berkeley in Northern California and I went to college in San Luis Obispo on the beautiful Central California Coast. I have lived in many places including Brooklyn, New York City, Aix-en-Provence, Toulon (France) and now Portland. Each place I have lived has left a mark on me. I worked as a Paralegal (aka Legal Assistant) my whole working life and now I am trying to figure out the next step which has been much harder than I thought it would be.

’14th of July’ ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

Where do you currently live? Is this a place that gives you energy and inspiration for your street photography or do you have to travel to find it?

I have been living in Portland, Oregon now since late 2000. Portland is not a very urban city and I don’t find myself in the downtown area very often. I don’t do a lot of traditional street photography in Portland  I am more inspired to do street photography when I am in a big urban place like Oakland, San Francisco, New York or better yet Paris or London, places with beautiful architecture and interesting people inspire me very much.

‘Portland’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

Does your location, be it a big city, a small town, or the countryside, heavily inform all your photographs in general, not just your street photographs? How do you choose the places that you go to photograph?

I am really drawn to run down, rustic, vintage and old places. I love the history that I feel resonating from old buildings. It really makes me wonder about the people that used to live there and what their daily lives were like. I love small towns, the countryside and very urban settings  each of them inspire me in different ways. There is no doubt for me that my geographic location sets the tone for my images.

‘Lunch at Ottos’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

What first drew you to street photography and how did you discover it? What is it about street photography that compels you go out to shoot on the street? What are the subjects that are of the greatest interest to you?

I love the classic works of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brassai and Doisneau and that is what I was first exposed to through books and then later museums. Now I am drawn to women street photographers and I am fascinated (and baffled) by the fact that women have been shooting street photography for a very long time but never seem to get much attention from the world. Street photography is interesting to me because of its dynamic and transitive nature  I love how these moments caught in a frame are so fragile and remind me of movie stills. As far as subject matter goes I am all over the place  it really depends where I am physically  the images I shoot in Paris are completely different from the images I shoot in Portland. Geography has a huge influence on me.

‘Afternoon’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

Do you sometimes secretly pose or direct the subjects in your shots or do you always shoot spontaneously? Do you think there is a “right” way to take a street photograph? There are those who feel that a photograph is only good if it follows certain guidelines and fundamentals such as “the decisive moment” or that street photography should never be posed. How do you feel about this?

I always shoot my street photographs spontaneously and try to be extremely discreet so as to not influence my subject matter  sometimes this can’t be avoided, especially if you are spotted! I will “direct” my photograph since I am the one determining where I should stand and what angle I want to capture. I strongly believe in searching for the “decisive moment” but also believe that moment will be different for each of us!! Lately I have been drawn into street scenes that look to me like they are movie sets  I enjoy playing around with dramatic lighting and shadows.

‘Spotted or not’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

How do you feel about shooting from the hip as opposed to looking though the viewfinder?

I love it! Wish I could do it more! Just need to get out there and practice more.

‘Big man in Paris’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

These days, the genre raises many questions with regards to the morals and ethics of taking photographs of strangers in a public environment. It is becoming increasingly difficult to shoot freely as a street photographer. What are your thoughts on this?

I do find that people are less excited about being photographed these days  all the more reason to be discreet! I enjoy taking photographs of strangers and feel that as long as I am respectful of my subject matter I am not violating any moral or ethical codes.

‘Cheeky’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

How do you feel about using model release forms and re-publication of images of the public? Are we morally, if not legally responsible?

It seems to me that if we have to use model release forms it would be the end of “street photography” as we know it. However, if we are using the street photography to sell something that would entail different guidelines and is not really street photography anymore.

‘Caught’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

Do you have any personal rules when it comes to street photography? For instance, are there any situations that you feel are morally unacceptable?

We have an enormous amount of people living on the street here in Portland. I find the situation very alarming especially when I see so many young people and war veterans living on the street. To me it is a statement on how out of balance our society has become. I know there are people out there doing very important work documenting the homeless population and believe it is too important of a problem to ignore. My intentions are always to treat my subject matter with respect and dignity.

‘Heading Home’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

Do you think women street photographers share a different perspective to men? If so, can you elaborate on your thoughts?

I definitely believe women street photographers view the world differently than men simply because of the fact that men and women are built differently both biologically and physically! However, I don’t like to generalize beyond that because I feel each person has their own unique perspective regardless of their sex.

‘Be my Peggy’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

As a woman street photographer, do you find yourself drawn to shooting other women and children or do you prefer to shoot men or is this irrelevant? Would you feel uncomfortable if a male street photographer were to take a photograph of you?

My street photography is more spontaneous  I am drawn to a scene because I like what I am envisioning  to me it doesn’t matter who is in the image but if it is a “scene” or “movie set” that I like. I don’t think I would be uncomfortable if a male street photographer took my picture.

‘Me, myself and I’ –  ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

Do you think women street photographers are more accepted by the public when taking photographs or do you think they are more likely to be challenged? Do you have any experience of this?

I don’t have much experience with this  however, I do feel that women photographers will probably meet less resistance if they are trying to capture children. I have been yelled at a couple of times and have tried to just not let it bother me.

‘Hotel de Ville’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

Which street photographers have influenced you?

I have a huge list! I already mentioned Brassai, Doisneau and Henri Cartier-Bresson  I also love Tina Modotti, Berenice Abbott, Dorothea Lange, Lisette Model, Martine Franck, Margaret Bourke-White, Dora Maar, Inge Morath, Helen Levitt, Marion Post Wolcott, Sally Mann, Sylvia Plachy, Ruth Orkin, Alice Austen (Staten Island) and Vivian Maier. I really feel women street photographers have been ignored throughout history and I’d love to see more research/ coverage of women street photographers  from our past up to the present day. I really enjoy following David duChemin’s blog  (a world & humanitarian photographer) his “Study the Masters posts are very informative. Locally, I very much admire Joni Kabana and her humanitarian photography.

‘Heading Home Too’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

Which mobile device do you use to take your photographs? Do you post-process your photographs? If so, what are your favorite post-processing techniques/apps? If you post- process on your mobile device, do you usually transfer the images as soon as they have been processed to social sites (in other words, capturing and editing the image while in situ) or do you prefer to have more time to work on your images? Please share some examples of your workflow process.

I first started with the iPhone 3 and am now using the iPhone 5s  which I am really enjoying. I usually process my street photography images very minimally  I am a Hipstamatic and Snapseed addict. Almost every image I post is fine tuned with Snapseed. There are other apps I like to use with my street photography such as: Phototoaster, Camera+, VSCO cam, Mextures, Faded, Image Blender, and Stackables. I usually don’t post my images to my social sites right away  I like to edit separately from when I am out shooting and I also like to edit some of my images on my iPad.

‘Coiffure’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

“I was in Paris this past summer and tried as much as possible to get out of the main tourist places. I love the old store fronts in Paris which are disappearing quickly. The green facade of this building and the font caught my eye  as soon as I saw the woman walking by with the umbrella I knew I had to capture her. I used Hipstamatic the Jane lens and the C-type plate film which instantly adds a lovely vintage look. I also fine-tuned this in Snapseed to add some light and return some of the colour saturation”.

‘We’ve seen it all before’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

“This image is from downtown Portland and I found the disconnect between the hard work of the silver juggler man vs. the obliviousness of the pedestrians quite interesting  nobody wanted to make eye contact with him. I took this image with Hipstamatic (JohnS lens and Blackkeys SuperGrain film). I also did some minor adjustments in Snapseed to adjust the brightness and contrast”.

‘Rue Cambon’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

“I love mannequins and their mysterious nature! I saw this one in a lingerie shop and was drawn to the reflections of the beautiful old Paris buildings. I took this in Hipstamatic with the Jane lens and Blanko film. I next converted it to black and white in Snapseed and did other adjustments and then blended it back with the original colour image in Image Blender. I wanted a slightly faded look here with a retro/vintage feeling to take the edge off of the original colour image”.

Do you pre-mediate the capture of your images? Do you have a plan or structure in place or do you prefer to act spontaneously? Please share your thoughts about some of your images  what you were thinking, or felt when you shot those photographs.

Almost all of my photographs are shot spontaneously. I usually just try to go with the flow and try not to get too structured when I am out shooting. If I trust my intuition it usually works out well.

‘Quinceañera’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

“The traditional Quinceañera (Sweet 15th birthday) party includes photos and I happened to stumble on this photo shoot in a Portland park. I really wanted to capture this scene but also wanted to be respectful. I searched for a place to capture the scene but ended up being spotted…”

‘You must be my lucky star’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

I’m mildly obsessed with the Eiffel Tower and have found that there are always great scenes unfolding at the Place du Trocadéro. I loved this woman’s outfit, elegance and style. It was a done deal for me. I shot with Hipstamatic, converted to black and white in Snapseed and turned it into a polaroid using the Instant app.

‘London with Veevs, Jen, Fiona, Cara, Shayna and Saskia’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

“One of the highlights for me this summer was to meet up with some friends from my mobile photography online world! I wanted to capture images of our meeting without a posed look. I took this image with Hipstamatic and fine tuned it in Snapseed to make the green polka dot dress brighter and to adjust the brightness. (apologies to Cara, Shayna and Saskia who are not in this image!)”. Editors note – I’m so sorry I missed this meet-up Cecily, next time for sure – Joanne

What is the importance of street photography within the entire body of your work? To what extent is street photography a major focus for you?

The importance of street photography to my body of work all depends on where I am physically  as I said above I am more inspired by big urban settings where I can blend into the background. I love very urban street photography and I just wish I had more opportunities to do it. Portland is experiencing a huge growth spurt and I would like to document the small neighbourhoods before they are all gone and developed.

‘Hunting for Dinner’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

Who do you think is the audience for your work? Is this who you want your audience to be? What is it you hope to achieve, either on a personal or professional level, with your body of work?

I hope my audience is someone who appreciates my quirky view of the world. It would be fantastic if my work made connections with everyone but I know that is not possible. My goals are quite fluid and ever changing  I would like to narrow down my interests and really focus on one project that tells a beautiful and compelling story.

‘Rose Parade’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

What do you think distinguishes your street photography from others in the group?

Perhaps my sense of humour and my love of vintage cars?

‘London’s Burning, Paris’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

Where do you show your work? How has social media played a role in your photography? Which platforms are you most active on?

I post my work to Flickr (I started on Flickr in 2005 and used to post my film images there!), IG, Eye’em and sometimes to Facebook. I also posted on IPA ( and that is where I met most of the mobile artists that I follow today.

My work has been shown in various places both virtual and real: Newspace Gallery (Portland) and Lightbox Gallery (Astoria) The Arts Center – Expanding Vision: The Contribution of Mobile Photography (Corvallis) Oregon, the IPA Quarterly show in Santa Monica, Spirit of the Northwest Mobile Photography show in Seattle.

In late November I will have an image at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History as part of a digital display for the Portraits of Planet Ocean exhibit. Social media has played a big roll in my mobile photography work because that is how I have been able to meet so many talented artists from around the world. I truly think we are living in a very unique time right now in the history of photography  we now have instant access and exposure to artists from all over the world. Our ability to connect with people globally and collaborate on projects is truly an amazing step in the history of this art form.

‘Jardin du Luxembourg’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

Do you have any tips that you would like to share with us? Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would just like to thank you and Joanne and Gina for all the time and energy you put into keeping the Women’s Street Photography group going. I enjoy and learn so much from the postings! I guess my tip would be to keep practicing, don’t worry about taking breaks from your photography and study the masters of photography from the past that you are attracted to.

‘Summer Storm’ – ©Cecily Mariece Caceu

Cara is a Graphic Designer and amateur photographer with a passion for mobile photography. Born in Hong Kong to Filipino parents who moved there in the early 60s to work in publishing, her early life was spent in Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines. She studied graphic design in London and spent more than 20 years here before returning to Hong Kong, where she currently resides. Cara brings to her street photography a wonderful international and cultural perspective.