Italian photographer Marianna Zampieri has managed to capture the beautiful bond that exists between a bride and her cat with images that convey companionship, trust and love. The magical essence that is the domestic feline comes through in all her work including one special project soon to be the focus of a book titled Cats in Venice.
In anticipation of her new book I reached out to Marianna to talk about her photography, the book and of course her love of cats.
How did you get started in cat photography?
I have a passion for cats and photography and I started taking photos 5 years ago, a little time after my cat Arthur came into my life. I’ve worked on two main projects – Passions and the ongoing C-AT Work with cats as the protagonist. Then, in June of 2017 I started with my other project Cats in Venice.
What is your first memories with cats?
I have always been a cat lover, I think I was born with the passion for these amazing animals. A very large part of my memories are related to cats, I remember that I knew all the streets near my house by the cats that I used to meet on them. When I was young I had the fortune to share some years with a cat family that arrived in my garden, so I was lucky enough to observe their lives.
Are you involved with any local cat rescue groups?
I manage a Facebook page dedicated to adoptions and food collection for cats in my city, organize information events and I also donate the proceeds to the branch of ENPA, an animal protection organization, in my city.
Please talk about your special cat Arthur!
Arthur is my joy, I owe him a lot. He has inspired all my projects, especially the idea of post-wedding services. He is a very special cat, and we’re really very attached. He was a rescue and he was very scared when I found him. Now after almost six years we are one, I speak to him a lot and I am sure that he understands even when I am not speaking at all.
What do you enjoy most about photographing cats and cats with their humans?
What I always try to capture in the photos, is the special relationship that is created between the cats and the people with whom they live or with whom they have a bond of trust. They are moments of extreme beauty that excite and move me. What drives me and always gives me great motivation is the emotion and respect towards these animals
How important is it to ensure that cats you photograph are comfortable in your presence?
It is the most important thing! When I have to go to someone’s house for a home-based service, it’s the first thing I make clear: cats must be able to do what they want, even not to participate at all if they do not feel at ease. I always bring with me objects that I often use in sets: they are fake flowers or other things that are well suited to be used as games to interact with cats in complete freedom and are beautiful as a photographic rendering. But nothing must be demanded or forced. When I go to Venice, I never know what I am going to photograph, it all depends on the cats I meet.
Please talk about your current projects
The C-AT Work project features cats that live in workplaces, and it is a project I am still working on that is leading me to visit really special and interesting places. They are environments in which we are not used to seeing cats, so the photos that come out are very curious and funny. The environments are perfect backgrounds for photographs that create amazing images.
In June 2017 I started with Cats in Venice. I live in Vicenza and the beautiful Venice is not too far from there, so I thought that I wanted to show the strong bond that exists between this eternal city and her cats. I wanted to work on something special with these two subjects, but I had to think of a way to do it.
I Asked Venetians directly about the cats that live in Venice, the cats are free to go in the streets (streets that we call ‘Calli’) and they gave me so many reports that I created a map on my navigator and I started walking in this magical city, looking for the cats they told me about.
But the most important part was that they always told me every cat’s name and something about them, so I decided to create a photographic project enriched with texts that explain something more about every cat I meet (I asked people or their owner), and I think that this is the particular difference and beauty of this project.
Cats in Venice is an extra special project as you are publishing a book
Yes, I didn’t announce it officially yet but I am really excited, before the end of March Cats in Venice will be published by El Squero Editore. This is a dream come true as I have always wanted to collect all the photos and stories in a book but it wasn’t so easy. Finally I found an editor that believes in this project and here we are! Before the end of March I will be able to see the first copy of the book and I am really looking forward to it!
Where and when will the book be available for purchase?
I hope that it will be available within the end of March and for the first print it will be only in Italian, but I hope to translate it into English as soon as possible. For all the people interested, I will post the way to buy it on my Facebook page Cats in Venice and on my website www.mariannazampieri.it.
What was the most challenging part of the Cats in Venice project?
The most challenging thing is finding the cats! I follow the reports, so it is not always easy to find the cats that are shown to me. And it is also difficult try to capture their interest as they are always very busy, so I have to be fast!
What message do you hope to communicate to viewers with your photos?
Through my photos I try to capture the personality of the single portrayed cat and their great dignity. They can adapt to any environment while remaining faithful to themselves. What I hope comes from my work is the total respect I have towards them. If this comes, I can feel satisfied.
Do you think your work can help raise the status of cats?
I hope so. I am going to start a new project inspired by some beautiful stories I found, where special cats became symbols of some cities, and I am going to take photos and information about them and share with everyone. I think we all can do something to make their life better.
What is the best thing about photographing cats?
The satisfaction that comes with it when you know you have taken the ‘perfect’ picture , to be able to get in touch with the subject and have grasped the personality. It’s not easy, but the beauty is just that.